What Went Wrong? And Where Do We Go From Here?

  It has been a week since the elections here in Delaware. For the most part the GOP had its hat handed to it. We fared better down here in Sussex County then we did state-wide.  I have for the most part stayed out of the back and forth over why. I have heard the expected blame game of what went wrong.  I have heard that it was this candidate’s fault or that leader’s fault. I have listened while fellow Republicans have blamed each other for not doing enough. And maybe there is a grain of truth in all of these assessments.  The question we must ask ourselves as Republicans is how do we move forward from here. I happen to believe that even though we lost some offices as Republicans, we made gains as conservatives. We motivated the conservative base of the party to get involved. That is a good thing.   Many people are talking about “how” we are going to move the party. I feel that first we must decide “where”  we are moving it to. What are the goals of those, like myself, that feel that a change is way over due. Do we want change just for change sake? Do we want change just to settle old scores within the party? Or do we want change to better the party, so as to create a strong party that can actually represent the will of the voters?   Our goals also should include more than just winning elections. This has too often been our only goal, and it leaves the party without an ideological direction. I believe that ideological direction should be a straight line conservative movement. Those who have followed my writing know that I hold to the belief that straight line conservatism will actually bring more people to the GOP.   So what is “straight line conservatism” ? In my view it is a three-legged stool. Those three legs represent what I believe are the three building blocks of conservatism and a strong society. You have fiscal conservatism, you have the conservative values and principles that hold to the Founding documents(Declaration of Independence and the Constitution), and you have a conservative view of how to handle social issues. These are the three legs of the stool. Remove any one of the three and the stool falls over.   I think that this is why the GOP in Delaware has been on a road to failure for too long.  We have been told that in Delaware you can’t be elected if you talk about conservative social issues. Why? I’ll get to that later. Right now let’s look at the last election, and of course we will naturally have to talk about the two top of the ticket races. Christine O’Donnell and Glen Urquhart. These two races are held up as being the agenda setting races for the down ticket races. Most people know that these two candidates are strong Christian candidates. Most know that they hold their faith close to their hearts. Most voters who supported these two candidates knew where they stood on the social issues. But what are the social issues?   This is where I think we lose the message war. In this cycle our candidates carried the fiscal conservative banner high and proud. We heard about taxes and spending and waste. Our candidates talked about the constitution and about how we must adhere to our founding principles. But no one ever really put the third leg on the stool, social issues.  Now when I say social issues, all of the moderates and liberals immediately start thinking abortion and gay marriage. The liberals will start screaming women’s right to choose and equal rights for homosexuals to marry. And we as conservatives have tended to become defensive and get down in the weeds with them. But in my mind social issues encompass much more than those two provocative issues.  When we talk about social issues we must include issues that affect families. We have single mothers raising children, some with the help of their families but all too often with the help of the government. Many of these single mothers are a result of unwanted teenage pregnancy. These teen pregnancies also too often end in abortions. Social issues include crime and drug use, alcohol abuse,which can and do lead to the unwanted teen age pregnancies. Social issues include the conditions of the schools and the fact that many of the poorest among us are trapped in the worst schools because they can’t afford private schools. When we talk about social issues we must understand that this term includes anything that affect society.   We must understand that the three legs of the stool are not separate. They must work together and if one is weak, then the other two will buckle under the strain. Let us look at what is almost always considered a fiscal issue, jobs and unemployment. I believe that unemployment is the number one social issue. Why? Because it has the greatest effect on our society. If people are unemployed then they will make desperate choices. Some will turn to government for support, short-term this is not a bad thing. But when it becomes a way of life being handed down through generations, it becomes a drain on the society. Some may turn to crime. This may include stealing, and also assault. People who are unemployed may turn to drugs and alcohol, again leading to bad choices in their lives that may lead to more bad choices. Let us not forget that financial pressure often is the leading cause of divorce, so once again unemployment can be the cause of creating broken homes. This in turn creates more women and children who may be forced to turn to government for help.   So from a fiscal conservative point of view, it is right to work to help put people back to work, or to get them working for the first time. It is also right to do this from a social conservative point of view, to reduce the amount of crimes, drug use and bad choices and broken homes.   As for the other leg of the stool, those all too important Founding values and principles of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution, well that is where we must look to for guidance in how to solve our problems. Those documents are our road map to individual Liberty. That Liberty is what allows us to achieve all that we are willing to work for. Those values and those principles that are encapsulated in those documents have been what has made this the greatest and freest nation in the world, it is only when we stray from them that we falter as a nation and a society.  So, how do we use this three-legged stool to move the Delaware GOP forward? I feel that we must give equal time and value to all three legs. I feel that in this last election we gave great amounts of time to spreading our message of fiscal conservatism and our belief in our Founding principles. But we gave little or no effort to spreading a message of social conservatism as I have spelled it out. I believe we left a lot of people home who may have been motivated to come out had we been better messengers.  Much has been said about getting out the vote and the ground game. Well one would have to think that 80% or more of getting out the vote is about the message and the messenger. We know that we failed to win over voters in New Castle County. That county has many of our poorest neighborhoods, our highest crime rates. Drug use is so bad in Wilmington that we have a needle exchange program there. We have large minority communities in New Castle County. These communities suffer under some of the highest rates for drug use and alcohol abuse. Teen pregnancies, abortions, single mothers, broken homes and unemployment. Their schools are some of the most dangerous and poorest achieving within the state and yet the Democrats argue against school vouchers to protect the teachers unions.   These are the issues that I believe can bridge the gap between what has been historically separate worlds when it comes to elections. But we within the GOP of Delaware must have the courage of our convictions and be willing to take this message to communities that in the past we may have written off as being unchangeable. I happen to think that in these communities there are parents that want their children to grow up in homes with two parents. That they want their daughters to have educations before they have children. I don’t think any woman “wants” an abortion. These citizens want schools that are safe and that actually teach, and not just warehouse their children. They want to be able to sit on their front steps without being afraid of gun fire or being robbed. They want in New Castle County, that which all Delawareans want, what all citizens of the United States want, they want freedom and dignity.   I personally intend to work to spread this message, I believe it should be our goal as a party, but more importantly, it should be our goal as a society.

26 thoughts on “What Went Wrong? And Where Do We Go From Here?”

  1. The focus of the GOP should be on winning the upcoming special election for the 23rd when Schooley finally fesses up she is moving. Also, the GOP needs to bag that NCC Prez race which is an doable race if they choose wisely, if they do the sameo sameo it is a lost cause.

    I hope they branch out from the HQ’s favorites. I hear Spence said NADA but it has to be someone with working class/reagan dem appeal.
    And please someone who can talk to and listen to minorities not the usual lawyer/Greenville/Country Club candidate. Someone who can wrestle up the Tea Party people minus the hopeless extremists.

    Will they see the light? I doubt it, I really doubt it.

  2. anonymous, in your comment #2 you tell me to move on. I know it was a long article and your finger may have gotten sore following along as you read out loud, but please go back and read the entire article. Moving on is exactly what I am proposing. Also I clearly state that there were mistakes in the message of the GOP campaigns. I am not defending the past here, I am suggesting a path for the future.
    Pragma, in #4, who did I condemn and the entire article is about persuading others to my point of view.
    Jason, I don’t know what time of day you wrote your piece, but we are close on how to move forward. One difference, you say that one size doesn’t fit all. I believe it is when we attempt to mold the message for the audience that we are speaking to,that we water down the message and create the image of not being committed to conservatism.
    And pandora, it’s not about whether the party is conservative enough, it is about being true to values that the party has held up as its guiding principles. Do we believe that every child has a right to a good education in a safe environment? If so then we should work towards vouchers and not to protect the teachers unions. Do we believe that all citizens want to live in communities that are safe from crime and drug use? Do we want to reduce the number of teen age pregnacies? These are the things that we allow the Democrats to hold the high ground on when we talk about social issues. As I said I believe that a straight line conservative message can attract more people. You can’t cherry pick, either you believe in the core values and principle of conservatism or you don’t. If you do then you should and must apply them in all areas.

  3. “Pragma, in #4, who did I condemn and the entire article is about persuading others to my point of view”

    My comment wasn’t about the article, but the way that “consecatives” campaign and the rhetoric they use.

    Just to provide one example, consider these two questions.
    1. Are Muslims inclined to be “conservative” or “liberal” voters?
    2. Should a “constitutionalist” be telling them they can’t practice their religion on private property they lawfully own?

    Right wingers have a knack for driving away people who actually agree with them on basic political questions. Why is that?

  4. Frank, while you make good points about moving on and fixing things, the notion that a good conservative MUST be both a fiscal conservative AND a social conservative is the sort of close-minded, small tent thinking that got our party into trouble in the first place and led to the disaster that was COD.

    One can be a strong fiscal conservative without necessarily believing that women who are raped must bear the child. One can be a strong fiscal conservative without thinking that those who believe in separation of church and state are nazis. Quite frankly, until Roe v. Wade is overturned, there’s not much to be gained (but much to be lost) by using abortion as a brightline litmus test the way so many “true” conservatives want to. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and strictly insisting that any candidate must be a pure social conservative in a state like Delaware is a receipe for irrelevance at the state level. COD and Urquhart both demonstrate this to a “t.”

    We need to start with strong fiscal conservatives and make fiscal conservatism (which, at least in my view, implies limited government faithful to constitutional limitations) the focus of our statewide efforts. That is a broad unifying message.

    As to social conservatism, at this time, in this state, it is not a winning message. One only need compare Bonini’s statewide vote total to O’Donnell’s. But, if the fiscal conservatives we elect are more center right, than just center, so much the better. Electing social conservatives at the statewide level is going to be a longterm process, but it will only happen after we elect fiscal conservatives and folks see that responsible fiscal conservatism works and become comfortable with the idea of electing conservatives to begin with.

  5. Frank, let me add a fourth “leg” to your “straight line conservatism” “stool” if I may.

    (The way in which you lead your personal life needs to reflect these conservative values.)

  6. It is bogus analyis. The GOP would not have even been in play without the reinvigorated conservative movement. Reid wouldn’t have even been close in the first place without the Tea Party. Remember Sue Lowden, she fell apart before the primary in both the General and primary polls. Sharon was a stronger candidate. Of course, the local Tea Parties and this blog supported Danny. Sharon Angle was a flawed candidate and there was a stronger conservative available who would have whipped Reid by 8 points or more. If the establishment would have gotten behind him and joined the local Tea Parties instead of trying to pay back a weak Sue Lowden, we would have won the seat. I am ticked at Tea Party Express for not backing the local tea parties. They split the tea party vote and gave us Sharon.

    CO, was always a neck and neck race in polling regardless of the candidate. The local state GOP is in shambles like Delaware. Buck proved to be a strong candidate. He was an elected prosecuter not some kook off the street. If the GOP were not falling apart around him, he would have won. It had nothing to do with “his extremism”.

    Delaware, there was no other conservative candidate. Sure Mike Castle would have won, but then he would have joined Tom Carper and been another Voinovich at best, Snowe or Chaffee at worst. The national party is better off not having him there gumming up the works. I would rather take a chance with COD than be certain that I lose with MNC regardless of the vote tally.

  7. As to the ‘social issue’ question, it might be wise to point-out that BO’s bipartisan ‘debt commission’ has concluded that the Socialist-Democrat welfare state has pushed the United States to the verge of bankruptcy, and that in fact the United States will be bankrupt in the near future. And what has been the reaction to the findings by Pelosi and the Socialist-Democrat ‘leadership?’ Just what you’d expect from ‘liberal’ ideologues. Denial.

    I understand that dedicated leftists, particularly academics and bureaucrats, have a sincere belief in socialism- they are willing to bury their heads in the sand, ignore historical reality, and dream of utopia. What I don’t understand is how seemingly rational, ordinary people could possibly support a social agenda which is a proven failure that will bankrupt their children and grandchildren. These people are either naive, stupid, selfish, or all of the above.

    This nation was founded upon a few simple tenets- and one of them was that no man has the right to demand the fruit of another man’s labor. If you, Mr. or Ms. Socialist-Democrat, feel compelled to clothe, house and feed able-bodied individuals, then feel free to do so- with your own money.

    Marx was a fool and so is anybody who adheres to even a watered-down version of his fatuous, unrealistic economic model (‘socialism’). Have you seen the riots in Greece, Italy, Britain and everywhere else where the government has been forced to confront the cold, hard reality of the failure of socialism? So, let’s just blithely plod along, right Socialist-Democrats?

    Dedicated Marxist-Socialists will never change. The goal of the Republican Party must be to educate the general population as to the inevitable disaster awaiting this country if Socialist-Democrat policy is allowed to persist unimpeded. The expanding welfare state needs not only to be resisted, but rescinded. The welfare state has failed. And thanks to the radical, socialist BO/Pelosi, a lot of Americans are beginning to figure it out.

    In Atlas Shrugged, Rand described the future- one possible future. And it’s ugly. We already have a president who seems to subscribe to the decline of America doctrine. Unless Americans wake-up and face reality, Obama’s- and Rand’s- vision of the future will be a reality.

    “Stop the Stinkin’ Marxist Bastards!”

  8. ….but it will only happen after we elect fiscal conservatives and folks see that responsible fiscal conservatism works and become comfortable with the idea of electing conservatives to begin with.

    I don’t really care about all the disagreements on the Right anymore. If the monetary system collapses and there are riots in the streets that will be one heck of a social issue. If everyone begins acting like moral degenerates and stealing other people’s stuff that will be one heck of a fiscal issue. Etc.

    At this point I don’t care if people who are for limited government are for it because they’re kooks who believe that we’re governed by alien reptilians. Don’t tread on me is enough. It’s the people who need to be wise as serpents, symbolically speaking. And I don’t care how you get to the point of emphasizing the Right, just get there. “I’m fiscal.” “I’m social.” Who cares if your civilization may collapse?

  9. (The way in which you lead your personal life needs to reflect these conservative values.)

    You can just keep waiting for your ideal candidate while people who are wise enough to try to correct the Left with the Right here and now carry on the fight in the real world.

  10. So Uniter not divider, the establishment just got finished a string of loses that make your head spin. They ruined the Delaware GOP and if were not for the heroic scrambling of Ross and DuPont would have given absolutely no support to our winners. As it was, they were 4 weeks behind the 8 ball.

    Yet the election is somehow a repudiation of Urquhart and O’Donnell and all they stand for. Then what were the last 5 elections? Live up to your choosen nick name.

    We are actually on the right track finally. Let’s not get off because we haven’t made the entire trip in on stop.

  11. David the establishment is O’Donnell and Urquhart???

    They were the 2 biggest losers statewide this year and yes their losses would make your head spin. Long time Castle supporter Tom Wagner was our only statewide winner. The so called establishment was beaten on September 14th. After that it was O’Donnell and Urquhart who needed to put things together. Your attempt to blame the people who left the train for the train wreck is inane. Man up and accept the fact that our top of the ticket were weak candidates.

    The statewide election was a repudiation of O’Donnell. It was not necessarily what she stood for.

  12. O’Donnell was a weak candidate, but not Urquhart. Weakest of all were Castle supporters who refused to support the top of the ticket.

    I have news for Delaware RINO’s- you can forget any notion of a ‘cross-the-aisle’ appeaser ever winning the GOP primary. Sussex and Kent will see to that. We’d rather have a real ‘D’ than an ‘R’ in name only.

  13. MY GOD PEOPLE ! CAN’T YOU GET PAST IT? I have tried to lay out a plan to attract new people to the party and to encourage Democrat voters to cross party lines in elections. And all you people do is sit here talking about the past. As invested as I was in the O’Donnell campaign I realize that that chapter is closed. What the future brings for Ms. O’Donnell will be up to her.
    I am talking about the future of the GOP and the state and the nation. If we do not find ways to make people see that conservatism is in their best interest then we will fail. We do not do that by trying to change what conservatism is. We don’t do that by trying to fool voters into thinking conservatism is something that it isn’t. We do it by showing how conservatism can actually be beneficial to all people.
    UniterNotDivider says in #10,”the notion that a good conservative MUST be both a fiscal conservative AND a social conservative is the sort of close-minded, small tent thinking “, I feel that it is you that is close minded. First of all my point is that you are not, nor can you be either or a social conservative or fiscal conservative. You either are or are not a conservative. Conservatism is a set of values and principles that you choose to live your life by. You can’t pick and choose when you will adhere to them and when you won’t. If you do then you are not being true to those principles or yourself.
    As for the fact that we have the same problems down in southern Delaware as they do in New Castle is true to a certain extent, but I will be willing to compare the murder rate in Wilminton with that of say even Dover and adjust for population and bet you that percapita Wilmington has a higher rate. I would take that bet on drug use and any of the other issues I listed. As for those high schools you mentioned, which are they and where are they located ? But in Sussex we choose to elect more Republicans, we are a more straight line conservative area. Unfortunately the population in New Castle keeps giving controll of the state to Democrats. This is why I believe we in the GOP must work to make our message clearer on the issues I laid out in the post. But not a message of social conservatism, but as a message of conservatism.
    I believe that straight line conservatism is the center. A straight line conservative message has the ability to attract all people. Those who are more concerned with fiscal issues will be attracted, those who are more concerned with social issues will be attracted and those who hold the Founding principles of the nation will be attracted.
    I also want to thank UniterNotDivider for demonstrating in the #10 comment exactly what I ment when I said if we mention social issues, the liberals immediately start screeming about a womans right to choose. UND also tried to make it seem that I was saying that abortion was the end all in choosing candidates. This is how liberals attempt to drive a wedge between conservatives. UND did this even though I made only a passing mention of abortion while laying out my ideas for a new conservative message in the state. Thank you UND for making my point.

  14. …the liberals immediately start screeming about a womans right to choose…

    Why don’t stinkin,’ coward ‘liberals’ call it what it is- abortion? Who do you people think you’re fooling with your euphemisms? I guess prevarication is a building block of the ‘liberal mindset.

  15. Rick, first we need to get the voters who have historically supported the liberals to understand that it is a package deal with social issues. The drugs and broken families are in large part what is driving the abortion rate. The fact that the public education system is failing our children, leads to unemployment , which leads to divorces and crime. Anyone of the issues I listed can create a breeding ground for one, two or more of the others to occur. This left unchecked becomes a generational downward spiral.

  16. Which is why I can’t stand the SOB’s, and I won’t apologize for it. The Socialist-Democrat Party is the Hate-America Party. Those who want to destroy my culture are not my ‘friends.’

  17. Agreed Rick, this is why we need people to actually become involved in the GOP. We need to take part in driving the bus, and not just sitting in the back yelling, “WRONG TURN, WRONG TURN!!”.

  18. The discussion above reflects a fundametal divide. And we really cannot rebuild a party without coming to terms with it.

    Those who want the Republican Party to be ONLY fiscally conservative (yet curiously that never translates into actual outcomes and results in Congress, as we saw during the Bush years) while locking the door and keeping social conservative issues out have ALWAYS in ALL places in ALL races been willing to destroy the party to get their way. This has been going on for decades all over the country.

    The theory is that the GOP should be fiscally conservative. Yet the Republicans in the late 1990’s and under Bush went trillions into debt, expanded government, and vastly expanded the government.

    Where is this elusive fiscal conservatism?

    Or is it that a certain faction will say and do anything they imagine will keep them from being criticized? They think that if they *SAY* they are fiscal conservatives, they won’t be criticized. Yet they never actually ACT as fiscal conservatives.

    When a conservative wins the nomination, the anti-social-conservative faction *ALWAYS* sabotages the conservative. When Ollie North ran for Senate in Virginia, the anti-social-conservative crowd ran a spoiler candidate to ensure North’s defeat. I could go on for pages.

    Ironically, in this election, Christine O’Donnell ran as a fiscal conservative. She emphasized the issues of concern to the voters of today: Jobs, the economy, taxes, deficit spending, over-regulation, expansion of government by ObamaCare, and cap-and-trade.

    Her opponents tried to inject social issues into the race, as part of a N A T I O N A L Democrat strategy (leaked earlier in the year) to try to make the GOP candidates sound extreme. (A memo early in the year encouraged Dems to ask candidates about Obama’s birth certificate, to create a divide between those who question Obama and mainstream voters.)

    POINT IS: Will there EVER be ANY election where opponents don’t try to spread negative attacks on our GOP candidates?

    Moderates chase after a formula that will prevent anyone from ever criticizing the GOP candidate. Aint gonna happen. Never. If you are taking power away from the other Party, they will fight back.

    SO the question is can we as a Party close ranks, the way Democrats do, and RESPOND to the inevitable misrepresentations and attacks on our candidates?

    Campaigns will NEVER be about whether our opponents say bad things about us — they always will.

    Winning elections will ALWAYS depend upon the Party’s ability to RESPOND to the attacks and put them into proper context and refute the falsehoods.

  19. It’s very difficult to overcome the proven fact that you are a witch. What’s more important- the economy, the deficit or the paranormal?

  20. Jonathon, the fight before us now is to forge a message based on what the voters want. I believe the GOP voters clearly want a more conservative message and GOP leadership. We can’t pull the party together as long as the leadership is unrepresentative of this movement. We need leadership that understands how and why it is needed to represent the different factions within the party. We can’t afford to exclude any of them. We need the fiscal voters, we need the social voters and we need the strict constitutionalist voters. In the recent past the leadership has attempted to keep the social voters happy by telling them that we don’t need to talk about social issues and to just trust that the candidates are socially conservative. That doesn’t work as we saw here in Delaware. All three must have equal time and importance, so that none of the factions feel left out.

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