Clinton Made Democrats Winners
Conservatives and Republicans need not despair this holiday season when we take stock of our fortunes and look ahead for opportunities and success. Conservatives are, and should always be, an optimistic lot who understand the long road of history is filled with divots of extreme disappointment. We think the world has gone mad - that the America many of us knew has almost evolved overnight into an ominous crowd of strangers who do not cherish the principles of hard work, trust in God and respect for those who take risks.

It is not the case. An Election was lost because one side presented it's narrative in a clearer, convincing manner based on relentless messaging, unlimited resources and changing attitudes about government. These shifts are understandable but not permanent, unless Conservatives and Republicans over-react and abandon the principles which will prevail in the future.

Thanksgiving affords this unique country the opportunity to regroup with friends and family or in solitary repose, to appreciate many aspects of our lives we often forget to acknowledge in the Hurley Burly of everyday life. When we are done with that, we politico's start scheming.

If you are a liberal, Democrat or someone who was vested in the success of Barack Obama, this has been a very good year indeed. Your man was returned to office despite the worst economy since the 1940's, largest debt ever, slow housing market and looming problems in the Middle East, Asia - almost everywhere. Despite hundreds of millions of dollars in Republican Independent Expenditures, Obama and the Democrats made gains in the House and Senate when everyone thought all three might be firmly in control of the Republicans. You even got to watch Karl Rove implode on FOX News. Doesn't get better than that!

Liberals feel validated over the Affordable Health Care Act, higher taxes on the rich and long overdue investments in education, alternative energy and same sex marriage. America is becoming a more generous, fairer society and while much work needs to be done, those who have been down the lower rungs of our economy are now being given a chance to do better.

Conservatives and Republicans are not feeling thankful. They are buying gold and going short. They feel like they have been sold another bad used car. Mitt Romney as every bit a bad candidate as they knew him to be, but Republicans usually can count on their candidate to run a mechanically solid operation. That didn't happen either as the Election Day GOTV effort collapsed like a Florida land deal. Romney was finished before he started and his endless stream of out-of-touch comments made John McCain look like William F. Buckley, Jr. Who would have thought the McCain-Palin ticket did better?

Republicans have not broken 300 Electoral votes since 1988. It's bad.

Here is where we should be thankful. We still live in a Republic where freedom of speech and assembly cannot be deterred and that will always generate political alternatives to the status quo. We also live in a country where men and women each day volunteer to defend it, in places that are dangerous and hostile to the concept of freedom and justice for all people.

We should also be thankful that there will always be another Election and the time necessary to make our case to voters, old and new one's, if we have the courage and diligence to ask the voters what they think - first. Republicans and Conservatives still have the winning message because it is an American message and we should be thankful that we have a strong line of leaders and candidates waiting in the wings.

But Conservative fellow travelers first must admit the challenges ahead and how we got here. We have allowed our Party to become a victim of its own bubble and to kowtow to the factions that made the loudest noises but do little to expand the universe of support the Party needs to win a national Election. Republicans also made a disastrous change in the way we nominate our Presidential candidates and allowed the process to be dictated by those who were interested in our defeat, We walked right into it

Republicans now are the Democrats of 1972 - and we can take a page from the Bill Clinton playbook to get back into the game.

For starters, Republicans nationally need the equivalent of the Democrat Leadership Council, a group that Clinton and other moderate/Conservative Democrats founded in the 1980's to focus the Party on winning national debates by marginalizing their most extreme elements which turned off unaffiliated or low-participating voters. Those elements still were involved but agreed to lower their profile to make the Democrat brand more palatable to swing voters.

All Republicans have to do is look at the cross tabs of any major poll. The GOP has lost its edge on taxes and is only marginally ahead on the issues of size and scope of government and spending. The Social Conservatives have been a successful partner in winning many Congressional and U.S. Senate seats, but Republicans need to be consistent on the "freedom" message to grow our ranks with the new Americans coming to our land to make their lives. Freedom means getting in front of the Immigration issue and dropping our opposition to gay marriage.  Abortion should be a matter of personal conscious and we should be promoting adoption and women's health alternatives rather than being seen as vindictive moralists.

Republicans must step up and show they are the Party of Small Business and begin the roll back of all corporate subsidy, trade protections and bailouts to prove they are with those who have gotten the shaft from the failures and hubris of big business.

It would also be helpful if the leaders of the Republican Party nationally compare schedules and make sure none of them appear on any major talk shows by offering the other faces and future stars to take the GOP message to the voters. Let the voters see and hear Gov. Bobby Jindal, Gov. Susan Martinez, U.S. Sens. Kelley Aylotte, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio rather than the solemn faces of Boehner, McConnell and Cantor.

Independent expenditures are a vital piece of the winning strategy. But the money used for such operations should be spent early, on developing local operations that galvanize popular sentiment, keep it fed with information and tasks before delivering it on Election Day. In 2012, there wasn't much to sell, but we had no way of selling it even if we nominated John the Baptist.

And Conservatives and Republicans should be grateful for Democrats, because they, like any winning Party, will believe in their own press releases and over-reach. It is then when Republicans must be ready to resume the discussion, based on knowledge but mostly humility.


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