Some off-the-beaten track takeaways from the 2014-midterm elections …
We all know that politics isn’t for the faint of heart, that things can get nasty, especially when you’re losing. Especially when you’re desperate.
So Democrats went to their playbook and did what they too often do. They consciously tried to divide Americans – along gender lines (rehashing the so-called GOP war on women) … along racial lines (with despicable ads whose unmistakable message was that a vote for the Republican candidate was a vote for killing black kids) … and along class lines (trying to convince voters that big bad evil businesses didn’t create jobs).
The bad news is this kind of cold-blooded cynicism has worked for Democrats in the past. The good news is it did not work this time around.
Yes, the Democrats had a lot to overcome. The landscape was ruby red this year. Many of the key races were in Red States, making it tough for Democrats who were trying to hang on to their jobs. A vast majority of Americans thought the country was on the wrong track. President Obama was immensely unpopular in those Red States (and elsewhere) for way too many reasons to go into in this space. Americans were voting against him – maybe more than they were voting for Republicans.
And Republicans had good candidates this time around. No one said “I am not a witch” or blabbed about “legitimate rape.” This time around the dumb comments came from Democrats.
But just as important is that this year the Democrats’ divide and conquer strategy failed them. Americans said “Enough!” A friend sent me an email on Election Day about how voters have finally pulled back the curtain on liberal politicians and discovered they’ve been running a con game for way too long. “Superficial arguments like the war on women and racism are becoming laughable,” he said, “particularly among young people, which leaves Democrats with very little. If division and identity politics actually start to backfire, it finally exposes liberals for what they truly are.”
But it would be a mistake for Republicans to get too giddy over the midterm results … to look at how many Democrats bit the dust and make premature optimistic projections about 2016. Rush Limbaugh has said that when voters have finally had enough of Democratic policies that don’t work, they vote Republican. But after a while, they go back to the Democrats – because Republicans don’t successfully articulate what they stand for.
I think he’s right. But I think (as I said in a recent column) the GOP also needs a facelift. Good policies won’t be enough to win in two years. The Party needs a new image because the old one isn’t attracting new voters. As I’ve said before, too many Republican leaders who appear on camera look like funeral directors. They look like yesterday. Voters only care about tomorrow.
So, Republicans need a charismatic front man or woman. Someone who is young and articulate and attractive. An African American or Latino would be nice. A conservative George Lopez – who is funny and likeable – would be just fine with me.
Finally, here’s my suggestion for what Republicans should do now that they have control of both Houses of Congress. Vote on every bill that Harry Reid wouldn’t let come to the floor for a vote: the Keystone pipeline, tax reform, and immigration policy that starts with border security. If Democrats vote “No”, fine. Let them become the Party of No. And if Republicans get barely enough support from the other side, but not enough to satisfy the most liberal president in our history, let him veto whatever they send him. Let him use his veto pen until it runs out of ink. And let him become the obstructionist, the one who is standing in the way of getting things done in Washington.
The question is: Will any of that hurt Hillary? Or will voters revert to their comfort zone and once again pick a Democrat for president? I don’t know what I’m having for lunch so I have no clue on what’s going to happen in two years. But here’s something to think about: Every legitimate criticism of the woman who would be the first female U.S. president will be portrayed (by fellow Democrats and her allies in the so-called mainstream media) as an attack on women. But remember, it didn’t work this time around. And it may not work next time around, either. Millions of Americans are saying,”Enough!”