Republicans were swept into power in a wave election that shifted control of Congress back to the red. The two narratives from the right that followed were these:
- This is a mandate from the people and a complete repudiation of President Obama and the Democrats!
- Republicans won by default.
As with most things in life, the truth borrows a little from each and lies somewhere in the middle. Yes, Tuesday was a clear message to the president and his party that the people do not trust them or buy into them anymore. But it was because of our two party system that Republicans took their place in power. If we had another major party on the same level, rest assured that it would have been they who celebrated Wednesday morning, not the Republicans.
It's kind of like dating someone who is decent in many ways, but just not inspiring. After a while, there's no spark, there's no excitement, there's no passion and so you start to wander.
In comes the excited, passionate and visionary girl who ignites some life into you. You run in her direction and get caught up in it all, mainly because you were so dulled out from before, and the next thing you know, you come home to your apartment on fire and she's swearing to you that the bonfire she tried to start in your living room, in order to create a more rustic atmosphere and décor of course, had nothing to do with it.
You're staring at the flames in disbelief and now all of a sudden the dull and uninspired girl from before looks pretty damn good. She doesn't ignite that fire in you, but she also won't ignite it in your living room either. She's not exactly what you want, but she's safer, less crazy and less dangerous than the other. But if nothing changes in a couple of years, you very well might be rethinking that rustic décor again.
That, in an odd-shaped nutshell, is what happened Tuesday night.
The truth in the middle is this: It's not exactly the vision of the Democrats that people voted against, it was their means of getting there and their ability (or lack thereof) to competently carry it out.
The Democrats have many end goals that the majority of Americans and even Republicans agree with. They want everyone to be able to afford health insurance and health care. Who doesn't agree with that? They want jobs for Americans, clean water and air, better schools, healthier kids, assistance for those in need, etc. These are all end goals that are universally desired in America, regardless of party.
It wasn't those goals that cost the Democrats the election. In fact, it was those goals that gave them victories in the first place. Their plan to achieve those goals and their bumbling incompetence at carrying out those plans is why it was a difficult night for Democrats.
This lesson, above all others, is the one that Republicans should heed in the coming years. The American people crave vision, big and fantastic vision, but they want a different way to get there without all the progressive side effects.
Democrats promise universal health insurance for all - side effects will include loss of coverage, loss of doctor access, increased rate hikes, bureaucracy, higher taxes, longer wait times, possible intrusion into medical records, lack of security, incredible sums of wasted money and the risk of early onset single payer syndrome.
The vision is why the Democrats had power. The side effects are why they lost it. The lack of anything substantial after that question mark is why they don't trust the Republicans and worse than that, aren't inspired by them at all.
Republicans need to aim for the same end goals that the Democrats campaign on and that everyone wants to achieve. Focus first on setting a goal to reach, and make it big. Point out that we all want many of the same things, find that connection and commonality with every American, but explain how the left does not have a monopoly on the directions to get there.
We all share the same end goals, but knowing the difference in how Republicans want to get there is vital. We believe that you, the people, know best how to achieve those goals that we all want as a country; that you do not need to be controlled from a central point in Washington to achieve them; that 300 million minds are far better than 535 and always will be. That's the honest difference, and it not only needs to be said over and over, but it needs to be followed.
Republicans! This is your chance to reshape your image, to reshape the party and to come in to 2016 with some big time mojo on your side!
First, explain the desire to achieve the same things that Democrats want to achieve as mentioned above. It is their vision that excites and inspires people and it's time that you had one too.
Second, honestly point out the difference in how to achieve that grand vision. Don't demonize people or, quite frankly, anything. Honestly show the difference and let the people figure it out.
Third, get your act together as a party. If you cannot agree with each other, the American people will never be able to agree with you. Unless you are a united front, you will fail.
Fourth, lay out your plans to reach those lofty goals. Be bold, be unafraid and be principled. Create legislation that people take notice of and talk about, that take big steps in the right direction. Dismiss attacks from the left rather than defend against them because you give merit to the attacks you defend.
Last but not least, smile a lot more. This may seem like a trivial thing, but it's wildly important. If you are not happy and excited about your own vision and plans, then no one else will be for you. Find some joy in the challenge ahead, have confidence that it can be done and show the American people that this is a direction they can get excited about!
Two years time will be all it takes for America to get bored of the drab and uninspiring girlfriend again. You have a limited time frame Republicans, but you have the opportunity to do something amazing if you follow these steps.
It's time to get to work. Let's see what you've got.
For other articles and writings by Darrell, please visit the Milk Crate.
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