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Forget Recriminations, Move America & The Republican Party Forward

Forget Recriminations, Move America & The Republican Party Forward

By Josh First

November 14, 2012

More than enough recriminations are flying around about who and what caused Mitt Romney to lose last Tuesday’s presidential election: Foolish staffers, inaccurate polling, Obama redistributing private property of America’s makers to the takers and thus buying their votes, a prolonged, punishing primary, poor ground game by complacent Republicans, uninspiring/insipid/kind/tepid/limp/weak/tame/nice/flaccid moderate Republican candidates, etc. Rather than re-hashing and reassigning the blame, let’s move America and our core, traditional values forward, analyzing things we can change to guide us.

Out of all of the reasons, causes, and excuses for last week’s unimaginable election failure, two solvable challenges do stand out: 1) Biased media reporting, and 2) the poor relationship between many Republican voters and the Republican Party establishment.

‘Media’ includes both the various faux news political advocacy outlets like ABC, CBS, NBC, NPR, PBS, NYT, MSNBC, Washington Post, etc. and otherwise known as the mainstream media, as well as the entertainment shows like Letterman, Jon Stewart, Jimmy Kimmel, et. al.

Republican Party ‘establishment’ includes the careerist elected officials, bureaucrats, pollsters, financers, lobbyists, apparatchiks, consultants, and other functionaries and rock star groupies whose often low-risk, insulated careers and financial interests comprise the don’t-rock-the-boat wing. Registered Republican voters and tea party activists are not necessarily included in this group.

Last Tuesday’s voting data show that Romney received fewer votes than McCain received in 2008, even as Obama also received far fewer votes than his all-positive campaign got in 2008. So, despite Obama’s catastrophic economy, foreign policy failures, gaffes, corruption, and bizarre running mate, Republican enthusiasm for Romney was actually lower than Republican enthusiasm of four years ago. Despite all that was on the line, Republicans were unwilling to go to the polls. Why?

As noted, the anti-Republican mainstream media artificially propped up a failed, corrupt Obama administration, and the Republican Party establishment again demonstrated its disdain for Republican voters and activists. These two issues are totally fixable. If Republican leaders want to fix them.

That the American mainstream media are political advocates first and foremost, and won’t report facts unless they hurt Republicans and conservatives, is well known and easily proven. Well, folks, stop whining about it! Fix it, change it, shape that battlefield! For all the money that goes into promoting Republican and conservative causes, why can’t we come up with more friendly news outlets, comedians (like Larry the Cable Guy, Jeff Foxworthy), and TV shows set up for them? Breitbart, The Blaze, Drudge Report, Washington Free Beacon, Frontpage Magazine, Project Veritas and other new media deserve our support and are making headway, but wouldn’t it help if wealthy Republicans purchased some of the nation’s failing newspapers and rejuvenated them to get back to reporting factual news, like the Benghazi cover-up? Wouldn’t it be enjoyable to see some of Breitbart’s investigative reporting show up in print in hometown newspapers, or on a news channel? Can no one create a conservative stand-up comedy club, or a conservative comedy TV show, to give a platform to Jon Stewart’s alter ego? Yes, we can. Richard Scaife can’t do it all by himself.

The second issue is Republican Party vs. Republican voters, sometimes called the grass roots. As in, profit vs. principle, or, “There seems to be a struggle within the Republican Party between the traditional leadership and the conservative grass roots individuals and groups that are probably more mobilized now than they were a few years ago,” said Lehigh University professor Frank Davis, back in February. “The Republican Party has used these grass roots individuals to further the party establishment’s interests, and I think these people may want to choose their own representatives, rather than rely on the leadership,” Davis observed.

The onus for reconciling the two groups is fully on the Republican Party leaders, staffers, and functionaries; the “professionals.” Many Republican Party leaders have engaged in high-handed, controlling behavior that has alienated a growing number of registered Republicans, even the most dedicated. Republican voters and volunteers have been treated as wind-up toy soldiers, turned in a direction and told to march. Party intervention in primary races is one of the worst abuses. No matter how much the establishment may want Yes men to support the establishment’s intertwined political and business interests, the final costs are just too high. Stay out and give the people a voice, and you’ll be rewarded with more inspired voters, more volunteers on the ground, more elections won.

Some examples: First, running a gazillionaire for president during the worst economy in 70 years, where his wealth contrasted with citizens’ daily needs…does that make sense? It sure did to the Party establishment, which was long ago greasing the skids for Romney staffers into county Party offices well before the last primary closed. Sure, I like Romney, admire his business acumen, donated to his campaign, went door to door for him, blogged for him, and voted for him. But someone more blue collar, more authentic is needed to connect to and persuade regular Americans.

Second example: Grass roots candidates lost several recent US Senate races, which establishment candidates would have had no greater chance of winning, but the establishment demanded they step aside. Here in Pennsylvania, candidates hand-picked by Republican Party leaders were also disastrous failures, from the primary to last week’s general election. These candidates made perfect sense to insiders. But when trotted out into the public venue, these perfect candidates went down in flames.

The professional class of Republicans say they know what they are doing and everyone just needs to move out of their way and let them do their job. Maybe it’s true that the new grass roots activists lack professional judgment, but the professional class suffers from an inspiration gap, pushing plain vanilla, pre-fabricated, cookie cutter candidates who are “supposed” to win, but who fail after spectacularly expensive investments. The Party does actually need Republican voters to get their candidates across the goal line, so will they listen to the voters?

Which leads to the second solvable challenge — successful candidates, their Party backers, and establishment leaders must unify the Republican Party. That means putting aside egos, picking up the phone, calling their opponents, and asking to meet with them, for their support and help. Having myself run in two Republican primaries in the past three years, let’s look at how that works. In one race, the insider victor, state senator Dave Argall, graciously contacted me, asked me for help in his general election, gave me opportunities to speak in public on his behalf, and turned my hard work into a benefit, rallying the Party. Dave has had a lot of races in the past few years, and he has won all but one of them. Establishment or not, the guy knows how to treat people right, he benefits from it, and so does the Party.

Contrast Argall’s generosity of spirit with the treatment I got over the past eight months from state and local Republican officials, who did everything possible to exclude and punish me for exercising a simple American right. Despite running one hell of a strong, last-second, pick-up campaign for state senate back in January (thanks to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court), most of the establishment pros treated me like some sort of disloyal pest, with a couple guys behaving outright disrespectfully to my face. One primary voter, a supporter of my opponent, gave our volunteer the middle finger from his front door; when we looked him up on the Internet, it turned out he is a leader in our opponent’s church. You know what? My supporters noticed this stuff. The establishment candidate from my race lost in the general election, attracting far fewer Republican volunteers and votes than he should have otherwise gotten in Republican bastions. From these circumstances the Tea Party recruits its newest members, and Republican voters stay home.

If I sound cranky, let me just get an honest answer to this one question: Is there sufficient humility among our Party leaders to learn from these mistakes, to look inside, and make the necessary tough changes?

In sum, if Republicans want to win elections, they need to be the Party of Opportunity. Change the media battlefield, and also act like a good man to your Party members, including the more conservative, independent-minded ones. We are all in this together, let’s start acting like it.

Stay in the conversation at www.joshfirst.com and on our political Facebook page


  • Nov 16th 201212:11
    by Josh

    From Tom (two posts):

    Robert Reich sums it up for me:

    “I don’t know about you, but when I heard Mitt Romney’s recent comment that President Obama beat him because of the many “gifts” he made to core constituencies like African Americans, Latinos and young people, I heard the clueless voice of the Republican right — the same view Romney put forward in his infamous “47 percent” talk to funders in Boca Raton last spring.

    That’s the narrative they want to believe — not that the GOP is out of step with the direction of America, not that its reverse Robin Hood policies are offensive to most of the electorate, not that its attacks on women’s reproductive rights and marriage equality and immigration reform are demeaning to most people, not that its regressive approach to regulation and shilling for the rich and big corporations are repugnant — but that it won because it paid off blacks, Latinos, and the young.

    Not to be outdone, Bill O’Reilly, the Fox News host who accused me several months ago of being a communist, said last night he found Romney’s analysis “right on the money. When you get a tremendous amount of money flowing out of Washington into certain hands, the hands receiving that money are not going to want it to stop,” he said. “Mr. Obama said quite clearly, ‘if you vote for me, I’m going to give you money.'”

    I don’t care about Mitt Romney. He’s gone forever. But if the rest of the GOP wants to believe his bizarre narrative of what happened last week, let them. Then they’ll continue to lose elections.


    Sorry Josh, but there are so many inaccuracies in this missive that I don’t know where to start!

    If you think that the GOP needs to become even more conservative because of this election, then you sorely missed the Real Message from the American people. And you can welcome the political wilderness that will become the Republican Party over the coming decade. And I can’t say that I will miss you, because the country doesn’t need more kowtowing to big business when the country is sliding towards banana republicanism.

    Us hippies probably saved America in this election. I only hope they grab enough balls to tell the GOP leaders to STFU, sit down for two years, and get some goddam work done.


  • Nov 16th 201211:11
    by Josh

    From Another Democrat Friend of Josh:


    You are in a self created bubble my friend and you have many friends on the right in there with you.
    Not that you care, but I’m not the only one who thinks so: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1112/83704.html (would be interested in (a) whether you will actually read a critique on Politico; and (b) whether it has any chance of influencing you.

    Going after and blaming the media doesn’t help you, it isolates you.
    The deeper you go, the more you will guarantee that you (R’s) can’t win elections.

    This election, like all elections was about ideas and your ideas lost.
    To the extent to blame it on anything else, you will keep losing. On the surface this makes me happy, but on a fundamental level I don’t think it is a good thing for one political party to lose touch with reality. If your party listens to you and double down on Breitbart, etc, that is exactly what you will do.

    Best wishes,


  • Nov 16th 201211:11
    by Josh

    From Don:
    Well stated Josh, and directly on point! Several points that do need corrected and vastly improved on in short order 2 years, and more importantly in 4 years if the Grand Ole Party is to survive and regain it’s popularity for the right reasons for us over 40 white men. However even much more importantly are those population demographics that the GOP Republican Leadership need to embrace to be successful. Embrace through Change in scope and direction and leadership but not Ideology.

    US Constitution
    Bill of Rights
    US Citizens
    Balanced Fiscal Budget
    Reduced unbalanced trade agreements
    Just to name a few… …

    And so many more issued that the GOP can be successful on with citizen based platforms.

    Your work has just began! I have faith in you, while being in either PA or AZ or a dozen other states spring gobbler hunting.

  • Nov 16th 201211:11
    by Josh

    From Mr. Analysis:

    Agreed 100%

    There is one more place we can impact the so called “main stream media”,
    and that is the bottom line. There is a reason why the mostly fair Fox
    network is the most watched network for news, the country knows and wants
    to hear the fair information. Businesses that advertise and viewers keep
    watching the “main stream” keep these guys alive. Simply taking our money
    and viewership elsewhere will close them down or at the very least severely
    reduce their impact.

    Locally the situation with McNally.. I don’t think the Republicans stayed
    home, I think they either voted for Teplitz or just left the slot empty on
    the ballot. The fact the Sue Helm still won, speaks volumes. It wasn’t
    that the voters were not out, it was that they rejected the establishment
    altogether! I think the Dauphin County Republican machine really angered
    the voters this year. Between Seeds’ and your supporters, I think many
    cried foul and voiced their opinion at the polls, and now we have Democrat
    representing us.

    Sadly, I am not terribly optimistic about anyone waking up locally. The
    rot in central PA’s Republican establishment may be beyond repair. On a
    national level, it might take another cycle or two, but there has to be a
    change. Bottom line, if a moderate, articulate, easy on the eyes, mostly
    gaff free candidate like Romney couldn’t beat an ineffective, inexperienced
    Obama with Gas prices at near $4/gallon and the economy sucking oxygen on a
    defibrillator, I am not sure the GOP is truly viable anymore as a national
    party in its current form.

    One more comment:
    As a strategy, I think beating the Bengazi story hurt Romney towards the
    end of the campaign. Without trying to sound too elitist, those Americans
    that care about that issue and can find Libya on the map and who would
    care about how our people were treated there, were already voting for
    Romney. He and his supporters, proxies etc… should have continued
    hammering the economy story isntead.

  • Nov 16th 201211:11
    by Josh

    From Democrat Friend of Josh:
    You guys just don’t get it…but you keep doing what you’re doing and let those right wing nut jobs take you off the cliff. To blame biased media as a reason is a ludicrous. I mean….did you see the Republican debates???? Obama kicked Romney’s ass under the worst possible scenario for the Dems. And some of the clowns with their hands on the steering wheel think the problem is messaging. If you wrap a turd in pink ribbon, its still a turd. And if the entire party thinks global warming isn’t something that is for real, then its no wonder folks will start looking elsewhere. AS for me, I really enjoyed watching Fox news on election night!!!
    Now if we can only bring the people in central Pa back to their senses.

    But I completely understand why you have chosen the two points mentioned….at least you’ll have McNalley lookinig over his shoulder for the next couple years.

  • Nov 16th 201210:11
    by Josh

    From Frank:
    There are two words that could best describe why we lost this election.

    Sarah Palin.

    The truth is that we go beaten because we listened to the media and consultant crap and shied away from picking a bold fresh VP nominee that would excite motivate and drive the base. A Romney candidate is fine when paired with a spark to energize the ticket. Romney missed HUGE openings on foreign Policy and the economy but would still have won had he done what McCain did in 08.
    Sarah Palin was a new face straight talker and wowed the crowds even if she was light on experience.

    Enter Marco Rubio. Articulate. Bright. Florida. Hispanic. He wasn’t picked because he was too new in the senate and the party pros said that he could be seen as the new Palin —which was the problem in 08 and Romney listened to them… MISTAKE. Ryan was not good on the stump and no one wanted to hear him speak. Smart good looking and great family. yes but we had that in Romney (generically) If you look at successful republican tickets in the past you always have one that is a leader, charasmatic, good speaker, that excites the base and one that is seen as good solid steady businesslike etc… Sometimes we get both. We lose when we have dont mix it up, or if its a wash year when the voters just want a change.

    Florida and Colorado would have been moved with a Hispanic and a large group of people would have got off their asses in Ohio, Wiscon. VA, Iowa and PA if we had a bright articulate and charasmatic VP candidate. So my answer is: Sarah Palin.

  • […] –FB[caption id="attachment_7084" align="alignleft" width="201" caption="photo :CNN.com"][/caption] Mitt…ublican nomination for president. At this point, Romney has over half the delegates needed to clench the nomination, and there really seems to be little that can prevent him from becoming the nominee. However, his chief (only) rival for the nomination, Rick Santorum, continues to have his Reagan fantasy and refuses to bow out. Unelectable though he is, Santorum just will not quit. Mitt Romney won all three of Tuesday's Republican presidential primaries, putting more distance between himself and his closest contender, Rick Santorum, who indicated he plans to fight on to his home state of Pennsylvania and beyond.   Romney's wins in Wisconsin, Maryland and the District of Columbia put him past the halfway mark to the 1,144 delegates needed to clinch the nomination and add to a wide delegate lead that he holds over the other major GOP presidential candidates, according to CNN estimates.   Yet Santorum indicated Tuesday night he would compete in the April 24 primaries in five states, including Pennsylvania, where his campaign hopes a win would be a gateway to a run of May primaries in states where he can capitalize on higher percentages of conservative voters. […]

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