Thursday, 8 November 2012

After The Presidential Election, Next Steps For Republicans

So, incumbent American President Barack Obama has been elected for his second, and final, term.

In some ways, the Republican situation reminds me of the Conservatives in the period of about 1998 to 2003. And, so here are my thoughts about how to reoover.

Look like the America you want to represent.

Look at the Conservative benches in the House of Commons. They are diverse- in terms of race, in terms of gender, in terms of class, and in terms of sexual orientation. No, I'm not calling for affirmative action or quotas, but the Conservative MPs of even 10 years ago came across as nearly uniformly pale, male and stale.

The latest figures I have to hand give 93% of African-Americans who voted voting for Obama, along with 73% of Asian-Americans and 71% of Hispanic-Americans. The demographics of the USA are changing- how are Republicans going to reach out to non-whites and show what Republicanism means in a mutli-racial America?

Hug a husky- or something similar

When Prime Minister David Cameron was derided for hugging a husky and coming up with the "Vote Blue*, Go Green" slogan, his critics missed an important fact- that it was under the Conservatives that the Clean Air Act 1956 was passed, and that the world's first Department of the Environment was set up.

Yet environmentalism became seen as something on the Left.

Find a policy area that is identfied with the Democrats, yet was once a Republican one, and take it back.

Remember that it was a Republican President, not a Democrat, who was responsible for the Emancipation of African-American slaves.

[*In Europe, red is used for socialism and blue for conservatism]

One more heave is not the answer

There was one viewpoint in Labour circles developing between their fourth successive defeat at the April 1992 election and Tony Blair becoming leader in July 1994. And that was the "one more heave" view. Labour had done some changes in policy, and all they needed to do was wait for the Conservative Government to screw up.

Wait for the next general election, then just "one more heave" and victory is assured.

Although this is an example from the Left, Blair understood that things had moved on, and that Labour had to change policies without changing its principles.

Republicans should not look back at any golden era, even that of Ronald Reagan's Presidency, and try to re-create it. Instead look at the guiding principles that have formed the basis of Republican administrations and ask how those principles apply today.

Europe is not a four-letter word

OK, pet grouse here. If Republicans wish to condemn a Democrat policy, which word is the worst insult in the Republican lexicon? "European" of course. Just describe a Democrat policy as European and you cannot come up with any stronger criticism.

Hmm, remember former Governor of Florida Jeb Bush talking about the Swedish education system and calling it "voucherized"?

Yep, Sweden. Supposed hotbed of European godless socialism, coming up with an education system that is a Republican dream.

And no need to imagine how a flat tax system would work- just ask Hungary, Estonia and Lithuania about it.

Focus on the big picture

A party can come up with all sorts of dreams and plans. But these are worthless if you don't win.

If you believe the election of a Republican President and a Republican Congress is what the USA needed then that should be the focus, with there being no room for shilly-shallying around with personal egos. If a candidate for an elected federal post is an embarrassment and/or a liability, cut them loose. Their are higher priorities than their career. For the want of a nail, a shoe was lost. For the want of a shoe a horse was lost. For the want of a horse, the battle was lost.

Choose the next Presidential candidate now

2016 will begin with Des Moines being crowded with politicians, but why wait?

In Westminster-style democracies, an important figure is the Leader of the Opposition. And a good one can successfully portray themselves as the Prime Minister-in-waiting, biding time till the next election.

So, why not in 2013 give the USA a de facto Leader of the Opposition? Someone who is the ultimate visible face of the Republicans, rather than have it come across that shock jocks or politicians who talk about "legitimate rape" are the Republican mainstream. Someone who will develop a national, and international, profile as the person whom the Republicans wish to take office in January 2017. Someone who could go as far as drawing up a Shadow Cabinet, e.g. a Shadow Secretary of State who draws up the Republicans' foreign affairs policies, a Shadow Treasury Secretary who draws up the Republicans' finance policies etc.

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