-By Warner Todd Huston
There are a few undeniable facts about this last election. The most important one is that the name “Republican” has been damaged beyond repair. Millions of voters that have in the past voted GOP did not turn out to oust the most un-American, most socialist leaning president in American history.They stayed home.
It is plain that the Republican brand has been destroyed beyond repair. This is all something we really can blame on the Bush family in general and George W. Bush in particular. Not only do independents and moderates not trust anyone that has the millstone “Republican” hung around his neck, but even Republican voters themselves can no longer bring themselves to vote for members of their own party.
George W. Bush is the biggest culprit for this. His big spending and liberal governing style (No Child Left Behind, drugs for seniors, trillion dollar deficits) told Republican voters that there was no difference between Republicans and Democrats.
Now, substantively, yes there are important differences between the parties. But the perception that Bush left with his odious “compassionate conservatism ” — which was just an excuse for big government liberalism — told Republican voters that the Democrats are the party of big government while Republicans are the party for a tiny bit less big government. This is not enough of a difference to entice a vote.
If the GOP could not get out enough voters to unseat Barack Obama, the most socialist-leaning, most anti-American president in American history, then the GOP brand has been damaged beyond repair.
The low Republican voter turnout in this election proved that beyond a shadow of a doubt. Republicans stayed home by the millions not because Mitt Romney campaigned as the big government candidate, he didn’t, but because President George H.W. Bush, his son President George W., Former Speaker of the House Denny Hastert, one-time Senate majority leader Trent Lott, and current leaders John Boehner and Mitch McConnell have governed like the party of just a bit less big government for the last 20 or more years.
In fact, the Tea Party movement proves this.
You see, the Tea Party movement was not just and only a reaction to Obama’s socialist-styled, Euro-lite policies. It was also equally a response to the failure of the Republican Party to live up to conservative principles.
This is why members of the Tea Party almost never call themselves Republican. The general assumption amongst Tea Partiers is that they are Americans, Constitutionalists, and conservatives before they are Republicans. In fact, they are only Republican by default because no Democrat in the country is to the right of a Soviet apparatchik.
Mitt inherited the millstone of the name Republican. It was a drag on his candidacy that he could not rise above. While Ronald Reagan was able to rise above the name Republican, Mitt Romney hadn’t the charisma to do so.
Further, no future Republican candidate will be able to win the White House unless he seems more than a mere Republican. Not to be too flippant, but he’ll have to be Candidate X (who is also sort of a Republican, but please ignore that).
A future Republican winner will have to be seen as a principled conservative who has risen above his party. Just like Ronald Reagan did. If he’s seen to be just another, run-of-the-mill Republican he will not and cannot win.
The Republican Party itself is at fault.
Unless the party itself truly becomes the party of fiscal responsibility, the party of small government, the party of individual liberty. But if the party won’t turn away from its big government direction it won’t even be able to turn out its own members in sufficient numbers to beat future Democrats just as it couldn’t turn out to defeat the biggest socialist-leaning president this nation has ever seen.
The Republican Party committed suicide. Not with Mitt Romney. It happened long before Mitt Romney even ran the first time in 2008. Mitt Romney wasn’t the cause. He was just its latest manifestation.