Post-midterm autopsies are being conducted on failed Democratic campaigns around the country, and the causes of death are no mystery: the lockstep voting record with Barack Obama, the debacle of Obamacare, and the general sense that the country is on the wrong track with the current leadership are the most cited reasons. The GOP won a huge victory not so much because they proposed bold new ideas, but because they simply got out of the way and let Democrats dig their own graves. Lost amid the wreckage of the Democrat midterm Hindenburg is the almost once-in-a-lifetime opportunity the Republicans now have to peel off votes from blocs long considered the exclusive property of the Democrats.
With few accomplishments to run on and a growing sense of discontent in the heartland, Democrats engaged in one of the most substance-free campaigns in the modern age. The problems in our country are not the stagnant economy, open-door immigration and an exploding foreign policy, the meme went. The problems are a virulent, ubiquitous racism against blacks and Hispanics throughout the land and a war on women by Republicans to presumably take away their birth control.
The strategy actually worked for Democrats in 2012, but the intended recipients of the message weren’t buying it this time. Exit polls showed that turnout among blacks, Hispanics, single women and millennials – all groups upon which the Democrats count — was down from 2012. While mid-term and presidential elections may be apples and oranges, there was a palpable sense of apathy among the Democrats’ core voters. Democrat candidates went to the well once too often with the same old tricks.
While Democrat bigwigs may classify their losses as simply a messaging problem that needs to be retooled, the GOP can turn disenchantment with Democrats into electoral dominance. For generations, Democrat politicians and their “black leader” allies have scared black voters with scenarios where lynchings, race-based voter disenfranchisement and even slavery might come back if Republicans were elected. Meanwhile Republican presidents, senators and congressmen have come and gone, and none of those dire predictions have come true.
The Republicans are so racist they now have the first black senator since Reconstruction and have sent a black woman born to Haitian immigrants to Congress (from Utah, no less). Combine that with the huge expectations Black America had for Obama that have been largely unfulfilled and it is easy to see how the latest round of scare tactics did not motivate heavy numbers of black voters to the polls.
The message that the GOP should be pushing is not just that Obama was simply a false messiah whose presidency was a wet firecracker, but that the vision of government he and the Democrats advance is harmful not just to all Americans but more directly to the minority and women groups they claim to protect. More black voices have begun speaking up how inner-city blight is the result of Democrat, one-party rule and not a shadowy racism conjured up by campaign mailers.
The point is that, once one goes beyond the demagoguery of Democrat campaign rhetoric and looks at results, liberal policies have been a disaster and will continue to be no matter the candidate. For all the race- and gender-oriented trinkets liberals dole out to target groups–affirmative action for blacks, abortion on demand for women, amnesty for Hispanics –the things all Americans want are jobs, national security, competent government and a better future for their children. After six years of Obama, Pelosi, Reid, et al, there is now hard evidence in most people’s lives that the experiment in hard left Big Government simply doesn’t work, both now and in the future.
Republicans should be commended for running smart campaigns with competent candidates this time around, but that should just be the beginning. The next challenge is to educate voters on why Obama failed and how conservative ideas are the remedy. The “permanent campaign” concept introduced by Pat Caddell in the ’70s and later advanced by Howard Dean should be co-opted by conservatives to teach the electorate to remember the Obama years as a cautionary tale against the false promises of liberal utopia.
Women and minorities indoctrinated for years by liberal pabulum may not abandon the Democrats en masse, but the GOP may have its strongest case ever to make those people reconsider their blind allegiance to a party and ideology that has promised so much and delivered nothing but malaise.