Dear GOP establishment,
I don't know who to address this to. For the past 4 years it has been confusing to watch you grasp at straws hoping to grab onto something, anything that you can use as a weapon against the other side. My side. To be blunt you have no leadership. It's partially George W. Bush's fault. By choosing Cheney, a man who was never meant to run for President, he left an empty slot in which the next leader of the party should have been standing.
As a result it appeared as though you defaulted to George W. Bush's primary opponent John McCain in an attempt to distance yourself from the Bush years and move the party in a new direction. When that didn't work you were again left without a leader. So filling the void came Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and a parade of people who make a living pushing your party into an ideological corner. The end result was the failed candidacy of your most recent standard bearer, Mitt Romney.
You used to the party of Dwight Eisenhower. Now you are the party of Sarah Palin.
While I am probably the last person you would listen to for advice, and while I am not generally prone to trying to help my "political enemies" this is not simply "concern trolling" on my part. I genuinely want to help you. Follow me below the fold if you're ready to at least consider some real advice from a concerned citizen.
Between now and 2014 you have a chance to show the American people that Congress has their back. That the GOP cares about this nation in a direct and very real way. If you are able to do that you will have another chance in 2016 to save your relevancy as a Political Party.
Barack Obama cannot run for President again. You do not have to campaign against him ever again. The White House will be an open contest. The Democrats will put forward a candidate, you will put forward a candidate and the people will decide who deserves the job. I don't know if Joe Biden will be running in 2016 but we do have a wide range of serious candidates ready to go.
Chief among them is none other than Hillary Clinton.
That feeling you're experiencing right now is called fear. Not only is Hillary herself a strong political voice with instant name recognition and a Presidential campaign or three under her belt but she has as her top advocate the man who would be her "First Dude" as Todd Palin once dubbed himself. While it will never be overtly stated, electing Hillary Clinton is practically electing a 3rd term for Bill Clinton. He will be her closest confidante and no doubt just as active in her administration as she was in his. They are the definition of a power couple and they have a record of success.
I don't say this to discourage you, or to gloat. I am warning you of the uphill climb to come. Particularly if Hillary Clinton resigns in the second term you can bet your butts that she is running in 2016 and will have just enough ties to the Obama administration to take credit for the good and distance herself from the bad.
As such you cannot simply run against the Obama administration in 2016 and expect to win. It didn't work on Tuesday it won't work in four years. Particularly if your party is still seen in the eyes of Americans as the obstructionists standing in the way of progress. The Republican Congress has an approval rating of just 13%. Voters widely blamed Congress for the stalemate in Washington, whether you agree with that verdict or not, it is the reality of the situation.
So my first piece of advice would be to stop running against Barack Obama. He won. You don't have to run against him ever again, and trying to win the last campaign is never a good strategy for the next. He can leave office with a negative approval rating in four years and it won't make a bit of difference because Hillary Clinton has her own record of success to run on.
Her career is not tied to Obama's success.
The only way your party has a chance of winning the 2014 Mid Terms and the 2016 Presidential campaign is to show the American people that Congress can actually do something. I am sorry to say it, but that means working with the President. Working with Barack Obama. It may even mean passing his legislation without compromise. In some cases to grow the economy, so that you can take equal credit for the success of the nation. In other cases it may mean giving the President just enough rope to "hang himself with" if his ideas fail.
And that's really a key point in all of this.
If you truly believe his ideas are so bad that they cannot work, you're not doing yourself any favors by protecting him from those failures. Give him what he wants, show the American people that his ideas don't work (if you truly believe that) by letting them go into effect. Otherwise it just looks as though you are holding our nations future hostage. That doesn't help anybody, but it does give voters a reason to replace a whole lot of GOP members of Congress.
I am speaking to you as a Political activist who found myself in your exact position in November of 2004. Here at Dailykos we hadn't deluded ourselves quite as badly as you guys did this time around about our odds of winning but there was a large portion of people here (myself included) who felt that everything had broken our way. We nominated a war hero. We won the debates. The public support for the Iraq War was cratering as were George Bush's approval ratings. Everything seemed to suggest that Bush had overstepped his bounds and the voters would deny him a second term.
Having spent 4 years actively working to stop George W. Bush from winning that second term it seemed like we couldn't fail. But we did.
The difference is that instead of continuing to attack George W. Bush as if he would forever be our mortal enemy we quickly pivoted. You see old George would never face re-election again, so any and all energy spent attacking him was a waste. We immediately began to focus on the mid terms and individual races. We turned away from George W. Bush the man, and began making an argument against the Conservative ideology he subscribed to.
We believed that the Democratic agenda contained a better vision for this nation.
In 2006 we won. But even with our new found margins in the House and Senate we didn't obstruct the Bush administration because we knew that if we did, the blame for his failures would be shared by us. When someone is trying to Govern and you do nothing but get in their way, suddenly you look like the asshole.
There's an old saying you have probably heard before. "If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem." Another great saying you should remember is "Either lead, follow or get out of the way." This is universal advice that applies well to this second term. The economy is on the rise. The indicators are showing a real shift in consumer confidence and retailers are gearing up for their biggest Christmas season in years.
2013 Will be the start of the American Rally. The start of our return to greatness.
In 2006 you as a Political Party were seen as a Rubber Stamp Congress. In 2012 you were seen as the Road Block Congress. In 2014 you can either be seen as part of the coalition that's bringing America back to greatness, or you can be seen as the guys who dampened that effort. Who held the recovery back, made it less than what it might have been. And for what?
Holding up Barack Obama's agenda may have been the only viable option for you when the top goal was to stop his re-election. But that battle is over and you lost. Holding up his agenda now doesn't do you a damn bit of good. It just makes you responsible for any and all of his legislative failures. He tried, you stopped him. Guess who gets blamed? This isn't rocket science. A passive, low information voter can figure this out.
When the Dream Act doesn't pass Congress, guess who Voters are going to blame?
Hint: It's not the guy who sent it there to be passed!
While we're at it, obsessing over what happened in Benghazi doesn't do you a damn bit of good either. Sure if something went wrong we need to know what. We need to know what should be fixed but a witch hunt designed to try and dig up some sort of scandal, one that most likely does not exist- is pointless when the only person such a scandal could hurt is a man who cannot be Un-Re-Elected.
While you're wasting your time dealing chip damage to Barack Obama the rest of the very strong, very capable Democratic candidates for President will be building a network of donors and former Obama for America volunteers for 2016. The entire Democratic party will also be organizing for the mid term elections and guess what- your obstructionism is going to be issue #1. Wasting time on witch hunts while real issues await solving will be issue #2.
That is if you aren't so stupid as to actually try and impeach the second Democratic President to win Re-Election in a row! Cementing forever an image of sore losers who throw a hissy fit every time you fail to unseat a President. If you are that stupid, expect to have your ass handed to you so quickly, and so painfully that you may never recover.
The 2016 Election could be between the Democrats and the Libertarians.
You see while you mock people for voting Democratic because they "want stuff" the fact of the matter is the Government is there to serve The People. A political party that doesn't accomplish anything meaningful for the vast majority of the population has no reason to exist. Politics is not simply a battle of ideologies. It's not an intellectual exercise of competing world views. It is a debate about specific ideas for solving problems and making life better for Americans.
Sometimes that means giving them "stuff" like access to health care. Like financial assistance while they are between jobs. Food for their children and perhaps a job when they get back from serving overseas. Until you realize that Governing is about directly helping those in need, you will not be able to convince the American people that you are on their side.
No amount of culture war, religious fundamentalist distraction will overcome the basic fact that there are actual problems to be solved and they don't require roundabout, trickle-down solutions. They require direct action.
They require Congress working with the President to get things done.
I suggest you heed my advice. As I said I am not generally in the business of helping my political opponents but I feel their is a greater good to serve beyond the mid term elections and 2016 race. This nation and it's economy are turning a corner. I want the recovery to soar. I want America to be great. I also see a great deal of value in having two competing sets of ideas on where to go from here.
I don't want to live in a single party America, even if it is my party that is in power. It's not healthy for our Democracy to have such a lopsided political landscape. We need a competition of ideas to ensure the best solutions are found and we keep this nation movie forward. I miss the Republican party of Dwight Eisenhower. I miss the Republican party that wasn't overrun with religious dogma and Ayn Rand objectivism.
I want a Republican Party that hasn't backed itself into such an extremist political corner that if it is again entrusted with the highest office in the land, I don't have to worry about it resulting in a religious theocracy. I don't have to worry about it engaging in Oil Wars. I don't have to worry about it shredding the social safety net that keeps crime low and society from descending into chaos during hard times.
The choice of President of the United States should not be a high stakes decision. It should be a simple choice between two equally good, capable people who have the best interest of this nation at heart and who will work to preserve what has been accomplished.
We shouldn't have to worry that a Republican Presidency will result in a Government so small it can be drown in a bathtub and is thus useless. Government works because unlike private enterprise, it can be held accountable. Government can be a force for good if good people are Governing. It is ironic that Karl Rove's failed SuperPac was named American Crossroads.
The GOP is at a crossroads. We need a minimum of two functioning political parties in this country. It is up to you whether or not the GOP is one of them.