13 November 2008
Dear Republicans —
I know that you’re going through a hard time at the moment, so let me offer first a few words of condolence and sympathy. As a Green Party member, I can’t say that I know what it’s like to attain nearly unlimited, unchallenged power and then feel it slip from my fumbling hands due to my own personal failings and miscalculations – but I do know what it’s like to have to start over from scratch. So as you are undergoing what we might call an “agonized reappraisal” I hope you will take the following to heart and consider these suggestions carefully.
First and foremost – accept responsibility for your situation, both individually and organizationally. You did this to yourselves, pure and simple – your losses weren’t because of the “liberal media” or “elite intelligentsia” or any of the other bugbears that you have used as facile and convenient excuses in the past.
Second – recognize (and admit to yourself, and to your followers) the true nature of what you are competing against. If you really think that Obama is a “radical socialist” or “left-wing extremist” as so many of your spokespeople are still insisting, then you will continue to “misunderestimate” your opposition, and you will keep making mistakes. When you persistently mislabel someone with inaccurate but incendiary labels, eventually you make your own rhetoric meaningless, and give citizens the impression that you are hopelessly stuck in your ideological blinders. Stop trying to scare people with obvious untruths, unless you are satisfied with receiving only the support, votes and participation of credulous people who lack critical thinking skills.
Third – as individuals and as a party, realize you have some decisions to make about who you are and what you want. You are not a unified party, of course, but a coalition of various interest groups, wearing only the thinnest patina of unity. Part of your problem is that some of the interests of your constituent parts are actually contradictory – laissez-faire capitalism and Christian morality, for example. If you are truly united by economic issues, then run on those and leave the social issues to someone else – or vice versa.
Fourth – give up notions of attaining hegemony, or a permanent majority, or the destruction of your opposition. You live in a pluralistic democracy, one that is only going to get more diverse in the future – so get used to it. Disavow the legacy of the “K Street Project” – and its authors. Embrace and welcome the diversity of the American people, and try to create a political system where all points of view can have a place at the table. (You know, the Golden Rule – if you don’t want to be shut out and isolated when you disagree, don’t isolate and shut out others when they disagree with you.)
Later I might think of some more, but those are going to be a tough enough bill for you to fill for now. Good luck.