I arrived at the state Republican headquarters at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 1, and no one was there. I was trying to replace a “Veterans for McCain” sign that had been torched in my front yard the night before. I pounded in frustration on the door for so long that finally someone emerged from the attic and supplied me with a more generic McCain sign for the future amusement of my neighbors.
The whole episode seemed symbolic of the problems this year for the Republican Party: A near-empty office the weekend before the election, campaign workers the subject of a future “Without a Trace” episode and McCain going up in flames.
It certainly raised the question of where the GOP should go from here. My first instinct, after the election results, was to invite them to my basement to join me in a sulk. But even as small as the party now seems to be, I knew they wouldn’t all fit. So instead, I thought I might offer a few suggestions on things we could do differently.
First and foremost, stop trashing each other and the opponents during the campaigns. If our tent is an umbrella, most of us are going to get rained on. And our opponents don’t need us to tell the voters that they’re idiots. The voters will eventually figure that out. We need to be making a case for why we will do things better.
Second, we need to re-establish the basic tenets of the Republican Party, both with ourselves and with the electorate. Too many of us have forgotten them in recent years. Just as a reminder: Republicans oppose big government and the foolish spending of taxpayer money. As is stated in the New Hampshire motto, we want to live free from excessive government interference (i.e. no “nanny” state). We believe in taking responsibility for our own actions, rather than blaming government for our failures and waiting for them to bring us our successes. We are proud of our history and our country and aren’t afraid to protect and defend it.
Third, we need to put up good candidates for every position. We had some good people run this time around and no one noticed. (Special apologies to Tom Reid.) But we also had some candidacies that left me wondering what we were thinking. In the future let’s try to avoid teenagers and family tickets. It makes us look a little … desperate.
Finally, we should avoid the divisive caterwauling and partisan histrionics that have been so shamelessly displayed by the other party in recent years. We have troops in the field in two wars and many difficult issues at home. Let us stand behind President Obama against all foreign threats, and be respectful and civil in our disagreements.
I think the Republican Party will have some opportunities in the future. They can only blame Bush for everything for a few more years, and then the Democrats will have to do something positive. Good luck with that. But perhaps the biggest plus is that much of the country now thinks that all of New England is just part of Massachusetts: one big liberal voting block where not a single congressperson can even be considered moderate.
We all know that no self-respecting New Hampshire citizen wants to be tagged with the insult of being just like Massachusetts. Even the liberals moved up here to get away from that accusation. So I am hoping, from the bottom of my basement, that this will be enough to cause our proudly independent voters to see red and turn the people who burned my sign … blue. NH
This article appears in the January 2009 issue of New Hampshire Magazine