Exams are finished, final grades are posted either to the delight or chagrin of my students who tolerated the old prof's animated antics well enough through an election and stayed (mostly) awake through classes concerning congressional committee structures.
Now that I have a break and can be somewhat more reflective I am offering very unsolicited advice to the major political parties for the both the short and long term. After all there are mid-term elections in 2014 and another presidential election four years hence. So without further ado...
Democrats savor your victory of this past November, but be mindful of the following:
- Just because you won does not mean that a majority of the nation will embrace you continuously. The United States is still a centrist nation with perhaps a slight lean to the right, at least on economics. Stay focused on keeping the middle.
- Beware of playing too much to your base. The Republicans have been learning this lesson of late. The activist left is vital for fundraising, organizing, and enthusiasm. However, going hard left on fundamental issues will get you thrown out of office in 2016 especially if you do not have a gifted politician named Obama at the helm and a Republican opponent who does not act the part of a stereotypical plutocrat.
- Beware of the Occupy Movement. In the long run they will be detrimental to the Democratic Party as they are far too radical for moderate voters.
- Keep the voter id list that served you so well in organizing victory's in 2008 and 2012 handy! The Republicans currently have nothing that can match it.
- Work toward goals incrementally. Health Reform was a big win, but also produced the Tea Party that helped the GOP take the House in 2010.
- Continue to push for immigration reform and own the issue. This may help solidify 75% or greater support from Hispanics for a couple of generations.
- Continue to paint Republicans as prisoners of Wall Street, billionaires, and the "1%". The nation has evidently decided that George W. Bush will own most economic problems for the foreseeable future. Keep this narrative going as long as possible.
- The Tea Party faction while important in the 2010 low turnout midterm elections in gerrymandered districts is hurting the GOP among independent suburbanites. The more extreme and vocal elements need to be reined in as they are absolutely destroying the GOP "brand" in many areas of the nation. A party that cannot compete in and effectively cedes the Northeast, West Coast and Upper Midwest is not going to win presidential elections.
- The GOP would be well-advised to shorten is nominating season. The constant battles between Romney, Gingrich, and Santorum wounded Romney and contributed to his loss in 2012. Having a lively nominating process is fine, but the extreme negative advertising and attacks need to end. remember Ronald Reagan's 11th Commandment "Thou Shat Not Criticize a Fellow Republican".
- Make the Democrats own the debt issue which is not going away anytime soon. I would advise that you agree to minor tax increases for the higher brackets as it would immunize you against attacks that you are in Wall Street's pocket. You also would be in agreement with over 60% of Americans and take away a key Democratic attack.
- Pick your battles wisely. Focusing on hard right social issues at this time will mean political death in many places except for parts of the Midwest and South. Focus on economics where the GOP actually has an advantage on at least some of the main issues. Same Sex Marriage is not the issue to focus on if you ever hope to win younger voters who are well on their way to becoming behavioral Democrats.
- You will need to compromise in some areas as the obstructionist label seems to stick to Republicans more than Democrats.
- Get better spokespeople. Romney, while a very capable man was not the person to put a positive image on the GOP (the 47% remark goes down in infamy). Too many folks in the GOP come across as scolds and out of touch. Optimistic leadership (i.e. Reagan) gives a the party a far better chance at coming back.
- Reach out to minorities, changing demographics are real and here to stay.