The 2014 election cycle is now in the books, except in Louisiana. The GOP had one of their most successful years in electoral history, even more historic than the 1992 mid terms when the GOP took over the House and Senate. While the Democrats are trying to figure out what happens and the Republicans are basking in their victory, there are three important lessons that Republicans need to heed.
1. Permanent majorities are built over time, not overnight. The last couple of election cycle, it has been easy for the victorious party or pundits to say that it is the end of either liberalism or conservatism. The fact of the matter, it is not. As these last election cycles have shown, that is not the case.
What Republicans need to understand is that they have a two-year window between now and the next cycle to earn the voter’s trust. So long as the Republicans consistently keep their promises and do not over promise, their majority may become permanent. But always remember that window is open only two years and after two years, Republicans have to explain why they should earn the voter’s trust and continue to be in the majority.
2. Be proactive. Knowing that this window is short, Republicans need to take the initiative on offering solutions or as Senator Mike Lee recently wrote, “Ryan-ize the Committees”. I anticipate that the next two years, the White House and Congressional Democrats are going to be playing the equivalent of trench warfare. In other words, gridlock.
Instead of playing the blame game, focus on the solutions that are coming from the House and place those bills up to a vote in the Senate. Also, Congressional committees should begin to assess the current regulatory framework and propose legislation that would make the federal government more efficient and effective by eliminating regulations that are impossible to comply. At same time, challenge Democrats to provide a better alternative. The American voter is tired of a government that is more interested in bickering than providing solutions.
3. Heed the lessons of 2006. The 2014 mid terms were very similar to the 2006 mid terms. In 2006, Republicans and conservatives were mad at the Bush Administration and Congressional Republicans for their straying of their conservative convictions. Congressional Republicans made the mistake of relying only on their get out the vote (gotv) strategy. The consequences of ignoring their base were a low turnout and a loss of both the House and Senate.
In 2014, Democrats made the same mistake. They thought that they could rely on their gotv program, despite the general public’s dissatisfaction with the state of the country. Relying only on a gotv program is a disaster waiting to happen. Interestingly enough, most of the media blamed this election disaster on Democrat voters. See here and here. Blaming low turnout on the voters is a perfect excuse. Using that argument is as absurd as a business blaming a product’s low sale on the sole fact that customers did not like their product. That mindset without digging deeper would get business’ executives and managers fired. The mindset of blaming the voter and not looking at their message or their policy position is a sure guarantee that Democrats will be a permanent minority party.
The lesson for congressional republicans is to stay humble, be proactive, and avoid the hubris. If they overreach by over promising, or ignoring the voter, or play the blame game, or flip flopping, the lessons of 2006 mid terms will be administered with a vengeance.