Republicans need to reinvent themselves to stay relevant as a party

ORLANDO -- Questions arise. As the days wind down in 2012, we need to look at why the election turned out the way it did. Republicans will have to figure out why Romnet lost.

They'll need to do it quickly too, or they will cease to be relevant as a national political party in our times. Further, all historical precedents weighing on past incumbents pointed to a loss for Barack Obama. Obama won. Why? Political pundits are scratching their collective heads to figure it out.

The basic summation seems to be America has changed - demographics, then, having defeated Republicans not just in the presidential race, but also congressional races across the nation.

Elections are about numbers, and numbers are votes. Those numbers do not add up to an overall demographical cause for Republican defeat.

Simply put, Republican challenger Mitt Romney did not exceed John McCain’s vote tallies. President Obama, likewise, netted 2 million less votes on Tuesday, Nov. 6, than President Bush gathered in his march to reelection in 2004. Hardly a major demographic shift. Moreover, some 14 million people did not vote in 2012.

The votes that Mitt Romney did not get in Florida, Virginia, and Ohio (states that if won, would have elected Mitt Romney president) were not linked to demographics hostile to the Republican Party, traditionally.

Had candidate Romney equaled John McCain’s vote totals, he would have run neck and neck with President Obama. Republicans now are beating their chests about how a nation can reelect a failed civil servant of impeccable economic incompetence. But that is not where the focus should be. It is not who voted for President Obama that matters.

What matters is, why did the Romney-Ryan ticket get a full 2 million votes less than McCain-Palin. Given the economic realities, and given Obama ran stitched to an awful economic record, it seems Republicans and voters they depend on were disconnected somehow. Could it be possible Republicans and like-minded voters were not crazy about Romney?

Voters in Republican primaries were never crazy about Mitt Romney. The entire mantra of the flip-flopping attack upon Romney was situated in Republican circles, not Democratic ones. This explains the oscillating loyalties between Gingrich, Santorum, and Cain - "an anybody but Romney" culture animated itself throughout Republican ranks.

Voters in Republican primaries were never crazy about Mitt Romney. The entire mantra of the flip-flopping attack upon Romney was situated in Republican circles, not Democratic ones. This explains the oscillating loyalties between Gingrich, Santorum, and Cain - "an anybody but Romney" culture animated itself throughout Republican ranks.

Republican leaders figured once Romney was the nominee, the failure of Obama in terms of the economy and foreign policy would be enough to turn a wave against the incumbent.

Obviously, that assumption was overly optimistic. Romney did not get the support of voters leaning Republican - not like McCain did and certainly not the way George W. Bush did.

The sensation gripping me concerns competent governance. Republicans in the past were the default political party when it came to major issues - economic expansion and freedom, and foreign policy stability.

Republicans lost that default position during Bill Clinton’s presidency when a so called tax and spend liberal triangulated on economic policy and creating economic agility.

Under President Clinton, economic expansion boomed. Then George W. Bush entered the presidency. By the end of his two terms - following a titanic economic collapse and rising unemployment, Republicans no longer seemed competent to voters when it came to the economy.

Likewise, because of President Clinton’s economic success, balancing budgets, and rising wages, voters now had an economic alternative in the Democratic Party. In terms of foreign policy, two wars - the Iraq War becoming highly controversial and misguided to many Americans - Republicans lost their competency reputation in regards to foreign policy.

The two biggest reasons, then, Republicans were an electoral juggernaut, were gone. And many non-partisan voters turned their sentiments to the Democratic Party. There are two reasons why I think my theory bares credibility.

On foreign policy, the isolationist view of America’s role in the world echoed by Ron Paul and Gary Johnson continues to grow. These candidates and their voters did not support Romney and even more so, have abandoned the Republican Party in droves.

But 30 years ago, these voters did support Republicans in the past, particularly Ronald Reagan. Secondly, almost 55% of voters according to exit polls during the election, still hold George W. Bush responsible for the economy Obama is steward over.

If Republicans seek to win the presidency in the future, they will need to fuse all these dispirit groups together into a coalition akin to William F. Buckley’s mission that erected the edifice that gave rise to Ronald Reagan. They will also have to win and after winning, govern competently.

That means enacting policies consistently, that expands economic freedom and expansion, and individual liberty.

Republican policies if instituted, will build a vast and popular Republican coalition - with a diverse population within Burkean islands of separation. Republicans lost because they failed to govern competently for many years. Too many Americans under Republican policies and neglect, in contradiction to classical liberal philosophy, did not improve, but worsened. It’s that simple.

Republican policies if instituted, will build a vast and popular Republican coalition - with a diverse population within Burkean islands of separation. Republicans lost because they failed to govern competently for many years. Too many Americans under Republican policies and neglect, in contradiction to classical liberal philosophy, did not improve, but worsened. It’s that simple.

Without governing competently, there is no wave - not for Republicans, and not for Democrats.

David Beilstein Picture

Short Bio

David "Daniel" Beilstein, spent the better part of a decade in Central Florida, in New Smyrna Beach as a reporter for the former daily community newspaper, the New Smyrna Beach Observer, in 2008, and later attended Full Sail University. A kidney issue forced him to return to Essex, Vt., in November 2014, but he has agreed to continue writing his community column, the "Lion's Den" for HeadlineSurfer.com, owned and operated by award-winning journalist and Online News Publisher Henry Frederick. Beilstein currently lives in Waverly, Ohio, and is awaiting a kidney transplant.