The failure of the Republican Party to achieve its much-ballyhooed red wave is a reflection of just how badly the GOP has failed its voters and the nation. While it is fair to lay some of the blame at the feet of former President Donald Trump, the rest of the party must carry an equal, if not greater, share of it.
This failure comes down to one thing: misapprehending the permanently changed dynamics of the electorate.
Bluntly, the United States is not a center-Right country. A Morning Consult article in August put it best when it found that, “America Has Become Less Liberal, but Not Necessarily More Conservative.” If there is a silent conservative majority, it is not a force prepared to propel the loudest right-wingers into office—as the midterm results clearly show. The American people prefer stability to chaos. Sadly, in spite of the horrible economic conditions Democrats continue to foster, more American voters prefer the sense of stability—however superficial it may prove to be—offered by the Democrats to the perceived chaotic rage of the GOP.
What we are witnessing in the aftermath of the Trump era is not a right-wing revolution at all. Instead, we are experiencing the birth of a moderate majority. The GOP had better be ready.
Still, the GOP did manage to eke out a slim majority in the House of Representatives. The wicked witch of the House, Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), was finally vanquished, to be replaced by a much less experienced Democrat, Representative Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.). It further remains true that an overwhelming number of voters are opposed to key tenets of the Democratic Party’s economic agenda. Given that fact, the failure to convert the 2022 midterms into a decisive victory was not only a major break from the historical norm but one that shows how badly disconnected from the average voter the GOP has become.
It’s just too bad that instead of understanding these dynamics in 2022, the Republicans opted to run a series of weak candidates and the national party had no real message. Think back to the campaign. Can you quickly summarize the GOP message as something other than the clearly meaningless “Biden is like Jimmy Carter” canard?
Neither can I, sadly.
“GOP beat Democrats by 3 Million Votes but Barely Secured House Majority,” blared the post-election headline in Washington Examiner. My colleague Leon Hadar brilliantly assessed that the 2022 midterm election results signified the “revolt of the normie” voter. “When it comes to urban areas and the suburbs,” Hadar wrote, “white voters who have traditionally voted for Republicans and who identify as ‘conservatives’ have rejected those candidates who insisted that Trump had won the 2020 presidential election.” This, more than anything, turned off many of those voters who otherwise would have helped to usher in the red wave that never materialized.
Rather than cry about the results, as the GOP has done since 2020, Republican leaders need to come to terms with the fact that whatever shenanigans occur in blue states during election years, the real reason the GOP didn’t storm back into power was that the average American voter is tired of the theatrics.
The Right wants to wage a culture war, but it fails to understand that the enemy gets a vote. What’s more, while Trump’s nomination in 2016 ensured that the Clinton machine could finally be vanquished from public life, the GOP failed to understand that Trump was a double-edged sword. It’s true that he achieved victory over the Clintons in 2016 when no one else could have done it. Yet Trump has become too divisive a figure in the culture war and has proven himself to be the leading reason why Democrats have won every election since 2018.
Trump simply pisses off way too many people. Even many of us who supported him, as I did, see this.
Trump’s polarizing effect doesn’t excuse the GOP leadership, though. For example, Representative Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) fantasizes about becoming the next speaker of the House. Yet he has offered no legislative agenda whatsoever, despite his party having officially achieved a slight majority. Instead, McCarthy is having the “full text of the United States Constitution” read aloud on the House floor.
Why not, instead, list your legislative agenda for ending the country’s economic collapse? Republicans in Congress never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity!
Yes, the GOP should investigate the Hunter Biden laptop story because that is literal corruption and if given the chance to see the evidence, the public will understand that. But making it the centerpiece of the GOP’s resistance to the Biden agenda is not the way. Let’s ensure that making America great again is the priority. You do that by building up the country rather than further dividing it, as so many partisans ensconced in the old way of doing things prefer.
Make America Like Florida (Minus the Humidity)
The House Republican majority should start crafting legislation that will ameliorate the inflation woes most Americans experience. They should offer several other pieces of legislation that will counteract the devastation that the Biden Administration and other Democrats are visiting upon our once dynamic and free economy.
Who cares if the Republican legislation won’t get passed? At least it’s on paper as a marker. The mere existence of these plans and legislation will drive the national discourse; it will be a perennial reminder of how much of a failure the Biden Administration has been.
What’s more, it would position the GOP in a way that visibly differs from the lies Democrats tell, and it would show Republicans are a governing party, while Democrats are the ones who squander whatever political capital they have on wasteful things like the Russiagate hoax or on policies that do little to help the American people.
Positioning the GOP as the positive governing party (as opposed to the party of endless bitching) will further set the GOP apart from the tireless caterwauling of the Democrats. More importantly, this positive positioning will reflect the way that the Florida GOP has behaved. It will, in turn, ensure that Ron DeSantis is the party’s natural nominee in 2024.
We can’t keep looking back at the past and raging about it. We can only push forward—and we must do it in a way that appeals to the new moderate majority. If we can do that, the Democrats will be unable to compete.