The 2012 election post-mortem must be an urgent attempt by Republicans — nay, more specifically, by conservatives — to figure out what went wrong and what must be done next time for their principles to prevail.
The arguments swing back and forth from one side of Republican ideology to the other:
*Mitt Romney wasn’t really a conservative candidate, and the Republican Party needs to embrace conservatism at its core.
*The Republican Party needs to be more moderate in its approach and leave the divisive social issues with the churches of America.
Which is it?
As columnist Kevin Leininger wrote in Thursday’s News-Sentinel, with polls showing that conservatives outnumber liberals by a 2-to-1 margin nationwide, “what explains the GOP’s inability to translate supposed philosophical support into votes?”
Something didn’t work in this election. Was it really that Romney wasn’t conservative enough? As radio commentator Pat Miller mused on WOWO this week, like an optical illusion picture where you have to squint or back up to a certain distance to see the hidden illustration, if you did so with Romney you might actually see a conservative. But does he really reflect strong conservative principles at his core?
However, those who do, such as Richard Murdock and others, may have been shot down in their election bids for that very reason, holding fast to issues such as abortion that didn’t set well with the electorate because of clumsy attempts to explain the depth of their convictions.
The tea party had hoped its influence in 2010 would carry over its strong constitutional principles to swing the country right in this election. Billy Graham, who turned 94 on the day after the election, was behind a nationwide newspaper ad campaign that beseeched evangelicals to vote for biblical principles. And many evangelical pastors across the country carried that message from their pulpits.
So which is it? Does the GOP need to lean hard right and identify its platform and its candidates with truly conservative credentials? Or is it better to moderate more to the center to play it safe and not emphasize the divisive social issues? But didn’t Romney do that?
Back to Leininger’s Thursday column: He quoted Allen County Republican Party Chairman Steve Shine as saying he isn’t convinced such a dramatic makeover will be necessary.
The Republicans are a party of inclusion as they demonstrated at the GOP Convention with such diverse speakers as Condoleezza Rice, former Democrat Rep. Artur Davis, Sen. Marco Rubio, Nikki Haley and Susana Martinez. They represent successful women and minorities in the party.
“We are always working to add people to our party: young people, women,” Shine said in Leininger’s column. “We need to educate people (about where we stand).”
And thus, Republicans need to be clear about and committed to the principles on which they stand if they hope to block the nation’s alarming bent toward socialism and amorality.