It would seem that the Republican establishment and remnants of the Romney campaign in their desire to see us gain more voters are more likely to divide the Republican Party. As I said in my thoughts shortly after election day that we need to resist the temptation to moderate. Tamara Scott in her post this morning echoed that call to stick to our values as well. Yet we hear those who drone on about compromise.
Are there things we can compromise on? Sure there are issues of policy where we can find some bipartisan agreement.
Marriage isn’t one of those things. It would seem that the press goes bonkers over Ken Mehlman coming to Des Moines speaking at a meeting put together by David Kochel, Mitt Romney’s top guy in Iowa, encouraging Republicans to embrace same-sex marriage.
Let’s keep things in perspective here… only 40 attended the meeting.
Wow! Oh I know, “influential Republicans” were there. 40 folks… 40. And how many people were there just out of courtesy?
The Des Moines Register quotes Kochel:
Kochel said Republicans need to recognize how the electorate feels about marriage equality “in order to move forward and field good candidates and win elections again.”
So basically we’re to abandon our principles so we can win elections. Is this what I hear Kochel saying? When has that ever worked?
The thing is would we hear him say this about entitlement spending or higher taxes? Maybe we would. News flash, the 2012 election had little, if anything, to do with marriage. Traditional marriage polled better than Mitt Romney did. So perhaps we shouldn’t be taking advice from the remnants of a failed campaign. They did shy away from social conservative issues. They also had a knack for ticking off the base.
We lost mainly because the base didn’t turn out. As I said in November:
…when you consider Mitt Romney garnered about 1.7 million less votes than John McCain did in 2008 that’s saying something. Romney needed to improve upon those numbers not receive less. President Obama had slightly more than 8 million less votes than he had in 2008 and he still won. It made for a closer race, but President Obama did a better job turning out his base than Mitt Romney did. The Washington Postexit poll shows that 38% of voters were Democrat while only 32% were Republicans. 29% were independent or third party. Why didn’t they turn out? More on that later. Evangelicals represented 27% of the electorate nationally – a record high and the same percentage of evangelicals went for Romney as did for President Bush in 2004 – 79%, but with fewer voters this time around (about 10-11 million) that 27% isn’t nearly as impressive. So I can’t say with certainty that the evangelical vote showed up like it could have. Then it also begs the question in what states did they turn out where it made a difference?
Update… the official vote count has Romney with a million more votes than McCain… the paragraph above was written on 11/9/12 which reflected a non-complete vote count. Exit polling is still exit polling. Voter turnout in 2012 was still less than it was in 2008. I still believe base voting wasn’t as high as it could have been, but as I said in November that is one reason, not the only reason. Some independent vote certainly peeled off toward Romney, but how many conservatives stayed away?
And so we’re going to alienate the base on an issue that is vital to many of them and think that we’re going to win elections? I had a friend say today that it is pretty ironic that this story in the print edition of The Des Moines Register ended in the obituary section. It is fitting because if we take this route we are dead as a party. If Mehlman and Kochel want Democrat light then go join the Democrat party.
We’re also in danger of doing this on another issue – immigration. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) has a lot to lose, as do Republicans, if they buy into the current immigration reform compromise from the “gang of eight.” I haven’t weighed in on this specifically because I have mixed feelings about it.
I did say we needed to reach out to the Latino community. You are not going to bring in Latinos when you give up on traditional values like marriage while at the same time embracing immigration reform. I also believe immigration reform needs to happen, but I don’t want to see Republicans take the lead from President Obama because it will go nowhere good. The borders must be secured, that has to be a non-negotiable, and we have to take talk of blanket amnesty off of the table. Frankly though the Senate needs to actually pass a budget before they should even touch this, and when they do they should make sure the rule of law is respected.
Whether it is marriage, immigration, the debt ceiling or spending. You alienate your base at your peril. It isn’t how you win elections. That is how you lose them. You may pick up a view voters, but you have a lot more to lose.