A party in crisis

Republicans must look hard to find the problem and fix it

In sports, they say that winning can sometimes serve only to cover up a team’s shortcomings.

The same might be true for a political party or even a nation.

In losing the election Tuesday, the Republican Party has had its considerable flaws exposed.

The depth of the loss wasn’t breathtaking, but the breadth of it was sweeping. Few expected a battered and reeling president who is presiding over the worst economy in generations to win in an electoral landslide.

By that measure, the outcome was, as Mr. Obama once described his 2010 midterm rebuke, a “shellacking.”

One cannot discount the media’s role in it. They gave the president a pass on innumerable problems, from the lies over Libya, to Fast and Furious, to billions in losses on Democrat-crony green energy clunkers, to his handling of the economy, and even to a dismal response to Hurricane Sandy – although history will record the storm as a net plus for the president, based essentially on fleeting images of him strolling the devastation with a Republican governor.

“I’m so glad we had that storm last week,” a jubilant Obama-cheering Chris Matthews of MSNBC even said after the election. He later apologized.

All the while, the working press smiled blithely as President Obama bypassed them to campaign on safe, friendly, nurturing talk shows.

America re-elected him based mostly on how he makes his supporters feel – and how his campaign was able to make them feel about Mitt Romney. Republicans tried to win on the issues. We see, now, which approach wins presidential elections.

In addition, liberal Democratic policies of bloated social programs – even as Medicare and Social Security and the rest of the federal government are headed for insolvency – attract large constituencies that are all-too-happy to wallow in the short-term security of big government. Never mind the cost to future generations!

Conservative pundit Rush Limbaugh concluded Wednesday, “Conservatism, in my humble opinion, did not lose last night. It’s just very difficult to beat Santa Claus.”

He’s right and he’s wrong. It is hard to beat a guy giving out free stuff. But he’s wrong about conservatism. It lost on Tuesday. Any conservative who tells himself otherwise is whistling past the graveyard, and only putting off conservatism’s necessary soul-searching.

Conservatives – this page among them – believe our principles of self-reliance, individual responsibility, liberty, thrift, morality and more are what made America great, and are what’s needed to make us great in the future. But on Tuesday – the one day in our lifetimes that a conservative message should have prevailed – it was rejected.

Wake up! Either the message or the messenger needs changing.

Moreover, liberal crowing since Tuesday that Republicans have problems connecting with minorities, women and youths is absolutely indisputable.

The Republican Party is in crisis.

It had better figure out what’s wrong with the conservative message or how it’s being put forth. At the same time, the party had better figure out how to appeal more to African-Americans, Latinos, women and youths.

Meanwhile, Democrats also should be mindful of the “winning covers up shortcomings” adage. They need to be careful not to overstate their mandate from Tuesday; a media darling was re-elected amid an unprecedented (in this country) cult of hero worship. The jury is still out on its overall judgment of liberal orthodoxy – though why it is, heaven knows: It’s been in full bloom in major American cities for decades of Democratic rule. How’s that working out?

And will the media ever tell that story?

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Rick McKee Editorial Cartoon