Part One: Leadership
There is no simple answer to this very simple question. The problem is the GOP is divided against itself. Let’s face it; the social conservatives have issues ( and vice versa) with the Log Cabin Republicans and GOProud, the conservatives have issues with the GOP establishment, and no one knows if the Libertarians will fully support any agenda outside of their own.
The first thing the GOP has to address is Leadership. There really has been a dearth of leadership for several years; to the point it appears to be nonexistent. Former Chairman Michael Steele enjoys taking credit for the 63 House seats gained in 2010. However, the reality is he had very little to do with that accomplishment. It was the engine of the TEA Party that actually accomplished that result. In fact, the only thing Steele and the GOP tried to do was co-opt the TEA Party movement. This bit of dishonesty frustrated many members of this nascent movement. Michael Steele also had a frustrating habit of insulting conservatives to make the GOP seem palatable to left-wing audiences. Attacking Rush Limbaugh using Democratic Party talking points is not leadership; it is the height of inanity. Rush Limbaugh has never been the problem of the GOP. At least, he has a message.
Steele was replaced by Reince Preibus. Priebus seems like a nice enough guy, but, he exasperates the problem with the GOP by not addressing the problems with GOP political strategy combined with the lack of strategic discipline. The former is a result of poor personnel. The latter resulted in the abysmal showing this November. The areas where the GOP lacked strategic discipline were numerous. I will attempt to address some of the problems.
The first issue is quality control of candidates. The 2012 GOP primary process resembled a cross between a three ring circus and Dante’s nine circles of hell.
In my humble opinion, there were three candidates who had absolutely no business running for the office of president; Michelle Bachmann, Herman Cain, and Ron Paul. All three were uniquely unqualified to be president of the United States.
Bachmann, a three term Congresswoman from Minnesota, is more of a ‘show horse’ than a ‘workhorse’. Her political accomplishments have not been stellar and I believe she is part of the GOP trying to usurp the TEA Party movement. The Movement has been focused on government overspending and government control/regulations. Bachmann, zeros in solely on Obama. It should be noted that several TEA Party Congressmen have lost their positions from the House Financial Services and House Budget Committees this week. Bachmann, as chairperson of the TEA Party caucus, has said nothing. She is an opportunist and I would not weep if she were to lose her congressional seat.
Cain, is a libertarian radio talkshow host from Atlanta, Georgia. Outside of a failed run for the Senate in 2002, he has no legislative/government experience. As described, he is a libertarian. As a true libertarian, he tries to be both pro-life and pro-choice. What eventually ended his campaign were a couple of accusations of infidelity and appearing utterly clueless about events in Libya.
Paul, who tends to be a free-market libertarian (which I like), has no reality when it comes to US foreign policy. He views foreign-policy as a combination of ‘It’s not our problem’ and ‘we caused the problem’. He ran on slogans like, “End the Fed” but when asked for specifics for what would replace the Fed, he did not know. During the debates, he appeared whiny and petulant; the crazy uncle one has at family reunions.
However, all three wreaked havoc on other contenders (Tim Pawlenty and Rick Perry) and none really challenged Mitt Romney on any issue.
Quality control of candidates also means making sure they have the staff and organization to run a campaign. Outside of the aforementioned Tim Pawlenty and Rick Perry, as well as Mitt Romney and Ron Paul, no other candidate had much of a staff and organization to run a campaign. In the end, it was Romney’s superior staff, money, and organization which allowed him to outlast all of his competitors. It also failed to prepare Romney for the general election.
Romney was the beneficiary of a lot of SuperPAC money which was used to attack his chief competitors. This insulated Romney from being seen as the attacker but it also led to the consequences of Romney not being able to hone any political skills with regards to Obama. Every mistake Obama made (and there were many) during the general election was met with little or no response from Romney. Romney became so dependent on the SuperPAC attacks that he became neutered and clueless when he was on center stage.
This leads to the next issue of money. The RNC raises a lot of money. However, it has serious competition for these political dollars from Karl Rove’s outfit American Crossroads, as well as other SuperPACs. Rove raised and spent approximately $400 million this election cycle. The election results showed his efforts were fruitless.
To be fair, I doubt the RNC could have done better. One of the biggest problems with the GOP is they are infested with political consultants/strategists who have either no concept of political history, no political beliefs, or are more concerned with money and power than principles. It is time for these individuals to be exposed and sent into the political wilderness. One pair of consultants from Minnesota was paid $64 million by the Romney campaign. It appears from the final results that this money would have been better spent elsewhere.
There is a lot of self-dealing among RNC staff and consultants which results in no-bid contracts being made to various vendors for mail, phone banks, and GOTV programs. Romney spent over $134 million to political firms with ties to his senior staff, for consulting and other services.
And you wonder why the GOP lost. There will be repercussions from this disaster of election. The GOP establishment was given the opportunity to lead. The GOP establishment should be told to either follow or get out of the way.