Wrapping up

It isn’t hard to see that people are still processing this week’s election. That’s a good thing: quitting cold turkey might lead to withdrawal symptoms. Of course, the results mean different things to different people, meaning post-election analysis has been diverse and educational. Here are my favorites:

Down in the dumps? Ten reasons why you shouldn’t be. Fellow UMass alum and conservative author Dan Flynn has five reasons why he’s excited about an Obama presidency. The Next Right‘s Karen Soltis is looking for five positive outcomes from Tuesday’s results.

What happened? Like C3PO talking to the Ewoks, Colin Delany of epolitics summarizes the Obama camp’s revolutionary online tactics and superior infrastructure from the primaries and caucuses through election day. Republican online guru Patrick Ruffini finds that Obama’s appeal among black and young voters translated into 73 electoral votes.

Good for a laugh. Townhall.com’s Matt Lewis kicks off the long-predicted post-election GOP soul searching with a thank-you memo to conservative pundits who trashed McCain. But the best and most insightful summary of the election came from my brother Mike.

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The Road Ahead

It doesn’t feel like a great morning to be a Republican. But in reality, last night might have been the best thing to happen to Republicans – and, more importantly, for the conservative base of the Republican party.

Is the GOP too conservative? The left-leaning pundits like to say so, because it tacitly paints their victorious candidate as a centrist. He isn’t – Barack Obama simply ran a campaign that painted liberal ideas like government-orchestrated health care and wealth distribution as “common sense.”

But the problem for the Republican presidential candidates this time around was that they tried too hard to identify as conservative in their tight primary battles by using the word “conservative” and constantly quoting Ronald Reagan – despite the fact that every candidate had glaring non-conservative credentials. This was not only an insult to the intelligence of Republican voters, but to those waiting for the general election GOP debates were stages full of buzzword-bandying empty suits.

As a colleague of mine said the other day, Ronald Reagan didn’t call himself the “next Barry Goldwater” when he ran for president in 1980. He didn’t need to claim the conservative mantle because he had been banging the drum for decades. He had walked the walk, so he didn’t need to talk the talk. That is why conservatives worship Ronald Reagan, but today’s Republican candidates simply don’t understand Reagan’s governing philosophy – at least, not enough to break it down like Reagan did when he said famously called government the cause of, rather than a solution to, America’s problems.

It’s not time to panic yet. Four years ago, pundits were asking if the Democratic party was dead – they were painted as a party devoid of ideas that could only react to their opponents. Two years after John Kerry’s failed presidential bid, the donkey-shaped tombstone had been chiseled, the Democrats were in power and driving the agenda. So the pendulum will swing, and it can happen sooner than expected. But depsite cries about the political environment being one way or another, a saying by my old boss Morton Blackwell rings true: in politics, nothing moves unless it’s pushed.

Now is the time to push – and it isn’t going to happen in smoke-filled backrooms and it’s not going to come from political celebrities who will deliver a new platform from on high. It’s up to us, to the grassroots, to make conservative ideas mainstream again. And given the challenge of a dynamic and charismatic champion of liberalism on the national scene, the right has no choice but to elevate our game – and not wait for national GOP leaders to do so.

Reagan would be the first to say that relying on big, national institutions for change is a mistake. The online media environment today gives us our window: never have such institutions (party leadership, national media) been less relevant. But to paraphrase fellow UMass alum and former Boston Celtics coach Rick Pitino, Ronald Reagan ain’t walking through that door.

We have our work cut out for us, but this should be fun.

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Predictions

Since my office constantly looks for opportunities to gamble, we have a small pool about the electoral college results. Just for fun, here’s my best guess on how tonight is going to go:

Electoral tally: Obama 349, McCain 189, with Virginia, Ohio, and Florida the most notable states going from red to blue.

Senate: Look for the Democrats to pick up at least eight seats – Alaska, Colorado, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, and Virginia.

House: The Democrats will gain as many as 20 seats, but look for an all-politics-is-local moment in Pennsylvania’s 11th District, where Paul Kanjorski will fall to Hazleton Mayor Louis Barletta, largely over Barletta’s reputation for standing firm on illegal immigration.

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Paranoia may destroy ya, but McCain’s health care plan won’t

I have seen tons of Barack Obama commercials plugging his health care plan and telling me that John McCain’s plan will tax my health benefits. Predictably, it’s not true; what is true is that McCain’s plan would shift ownership of health care coverage to me and away from my employer – so if I change jobs, my health coverage comes with me. (It’s a concept that was championed by Thomas Friedman in his best-selling book, The World Is Flat.) Barack Obama cribbed the major pillars of his program from Mitt Romney, who instituted it in my adopted homeland of Massachusetts.

Is it part of a disturbing pattern? Another Obama commercial quotes a Heritage Foundation policy expert – and by “quotes” I mean “flat out lies about” the expert opinion. Despite the lead, Obama is demonstrating an almost paranoid urgency. McCain HQ may want to double check their phone lines.

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Give credit where credit is YEEEAAAHHHHHGGHH!!!

CNN.com contributor Roland Martin reminds us that before Obama put Virginia, North Carolina, Indiana, and other formerly deep red states in play, Howard Dean boldly forged a “50-state Strategy” as chair of the DNC. The then-controversial plan was simple: Democrats would work to rebuild their party in every single state. Martin recalls that many influential Democrats feared the strategy spread resources too thin and would cost the Democrats their change to win a Congressional majority in 2006.

It obviously didn’t, and the statement was clear: Dean felt his liberal policies would improve the life of every American, so he would ask every American for their vote.

In the six years since Republicans staged historic gains in the 2002 elections, some conservatives have gotten sloppy when talking about the red state/blue state divide, assuming that “elitist” urban areas wouldn’t support conservative policies instead of finding a way to sell conservatism to those areas. We built a base of support in rural and suburban areas, but never made the case of why conservatives could run cities better than liberals.

The pendulum will shift, and in a few years Republicans will likely be in a stronger position than they are today. But to really rise from the ashes, we need to take new ground – rather than simply reclaim what we had.

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Me? I’m supporting McCain’s redistribution of wealth…

This is a couple weeks old, but a friend just showed it to me. King of All Media Howard Stern interviewed Barack Obama supporters in New York City and asked them if they supported Obama’s “pro-life” stance, or his call to “finish the job” in Iraq. They enthusiastically agreed with many of McCain’s positions:

It’s no surprise to find uninformed voters who support a candidate but really don’t understand what he or she stands for. This leads to two conclusions:

1. The 2008 election is not a referendum on any political philosophy, and should not be read as a fundamentaly shift to the left from the American electorate. It is a fundamental shift toward a guy who is great on TV and gives a great speech.

2. The Republicans – specifically, conservatives – need to step up the candidate recruitment, because there are plenty of people out there who will jump on board if you look great on TV and give a great speech.

But all PR is good PR, right? Right?

The Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism released a study this week that showed coverage of John McCain in the mainstream media was predominantly negative, while coverage of Barack Obama is fairly even and balanced.

(I know – I’m shocked to learn this, too.)

In fact, the study shows McCain gets more bad coverage than typical Presidential candidates received in 2000 or 2004. Pew spokespeople are quick to point out that their findings do not indicate a partisan slant to the news (although, watching the news does indicate a strong partisan slant).

They may be on to something; McCain’s negative coverage could not solely be the work of a hostile press dedicated to electing Barack Obama. Hostile press is a fact of political life. Presidents Reagan and Bush both dealt with it and were able to speak with the American people through the coverage. That’s a tactic McCain simply hasn’t mastered yet, but its an important one for the rest of us Republicans who will be talking to both national and regional media over the next few years.

Nazis for McCain/Palin

Last night’s Family Guy featured a sight gag I missed until I saw it on Digg today. Apparently, Nazis are all about McCain/Palin:

I’m assuming Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane did this because of the image of McCain’s cult of personality inspiring massive crowds in Germany last summer… Oh, no, wait, that was Obama. Well, maybe it was because of the way McCain has targeted one segment of America as having too much money, and has promised to re-distribute their wealth (as Hitler did with Jewish businessowners)? Nope, that’s Obama again.

It must have been campaign finance reform.

$600 Million? This is a change…

Barack Obama has changed politics – now it can cost you $600 million to run for President, thanks to Obama’s record-shattering $150 million raised in September.

With one more month like that, the Obama campaing would have raised enough to buy both 2008 World Series participants. He has already raised enough for his White Sox.

By raising this much from small donations, Obama has indeed changed campaign fundraising as we know it. By creating a system where people can give $10 at a time, the Obama camp is getting people to invest in his campaign – and once people are invested, they stay interested. It’s a tactic that dates back to high school: a club that charges dues can expect members to be much more serious about meetings and activities; a campaign can similarly expect its donors to be more serious about getting to the polls on election day.