They stood in lines, sometimes for hours, to cast their ballot for a man whose leadership vision is to do more of the same. With a vengeance. Unabated by the shaky economy, these voters are younger, more ethnic and less religious than ever before, and according to exit polls, carry a grudge for the very rich.
Stunned at Mitt Romney’s butt whuppin,’ conservatives are trying to figure out the meaning of it all; meanwhile Democrats are both giddy and cocky in their celebratory fervor. It is over, they say: 2012 marks the death of the Republican Party. For the 57 million Americans who voted for self-reliance over self-indulgence, the quick disposal of their values is a punch to the gut; in the course of a day traditionalists have been deemed culturally irrelevant.
No doubt our nation is experiencing a social sea change with entertainment, academia and mainstream media anointing liberalism as inviolable political dogma. The Democratic Party of our parents and grandparents is no more; John F. Kennedy’s challenge to “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country” has been flipped on its head. More and more of us want stuff and the Dem’s deliver. That is why Barack Obama won reelection.
In the GOP establishment, conservatives and moderates are beginning the debate—is it style or substance that fails to resonate with large numbers of the electorate? Should Republicans abandon their no-nonsense pragmatism and become liberal-lite to change the prevailing image that it’s the party of heartless old white guys?
Dismissing America’s changing demographics is not a smart option, but neither is succumbing to the identity politics of contemporary liberalism—a two-headed monster that reaps short-term benefits at the expense of a cohesive national identity. The culture behemoths will do their best to promote the status quo: Democrats = compassionate, intelligent, youthful and cool; Republicans = racist, backward, old and selfish.
What to do?
- The medium is the message. Marshall McLuhan was right—how information is shared fundamentally influences our perception. McLuhan theorized that media’s focus on the obvious lulls our capacity to perceive subtleties, a process he likened to “a juicy piece of meat carried by the burglar to distract the watchdog of the mind.” That said, the right needs to plow around the stump to communicate its message. The late Andrew Breitbart understood that; his savvy, passionate persona smashed the staid image of conservatism to the delight of his fans and disdain and frustration of the establishment press. Lesson learned: We need more happy warriors like Breitbart. Start plowing.
- Reject stock photo diversity. Nobody likes to be a token, so inviting folks into the tent to create an aura of inclusiveness is insulting and patronizing. Instead, the GOP should make an exerted, continual effort to engage new immigrants, minorities, young people and others to participate in shaping conservative principles. It’s time to challenge the Democrat’s monopoly on cultural acceptance. The values of hard work, charity, resourcefulness and entrepreneurship are not limited by gender or ethnicity.
- Watch. Wait. Respond. History proves time and again that governments built on income redistribution and womb to tomb entitlements lower the standard of living. Intrinsically, Americans are not like their European or Asian cousins; despite our growing gimme addiction, we still believe plentiful jobs, cheap energy, and quality products and service are our birthright. Republicans need to remain patient; if shared clearly and inclusively, the principles of conservatism will ultimately prevail.
The days of crying in our beer are over. Time to accept the verdict and learn and listen to what the voters are telling us. The allure of what’s-in-it-for-me has won the day, but that by no means suggests that the message of fiscal and personal responsibility is any less valid. Quite the opposite. It becomes even more imperative that those dedicated to Ronald Reagan’s “shining city on a hill” forge onward. It’s the American way.