Beyond commentary and analysis and getting to the cure

The learning moment provided by Jim Oberweis’ loss in the special election continues.

Last December, former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Newt Gingrich had this to say in a live interview on C-Span:

“On the really big things it is repetition that matters. I think our leadership has to get back in the habit of understanding that if you truly want to have a dialog with America, with over 300 million Americans, you have to pick a handful of big ideas, you have to talk about them endlessly, and gradually, over time, you’ll build an echo effect and a resonance and the country will learn and you’ll have a genuine dialog.”

The statewide and national blizzard of commentary and analysis about how and why the 14th Congressional District was won by a Democrat has been helpful. More people in Illinois and around the country are realizing the problem that is the Illinois GOP. Among the articles worth noting are Dennis Byrne’s, David Freddoso’s in National Review, and Michael Barone’s in U.S. News.

The Oberweis campaign had this to say after its failure in the special election through its “spokesman” Bill Pascoe:

“One of two things is true, either we had a problem with our message, or a problem with organization.”

Pascoe’s list needs to get a lot longer quickly if his client is to avoid even a bigger wipe out next fall. But don’t expect that list to change. Oberweis, on cue, gave the same answer to the press a day or so later:

“We’re still trying to figure out if it was a failure of organization or if it was a failure of message.”

As much commentary as there has been, some important basic topics have been over-looked, and more needs to be said about things such as:

  • The IL GOP’s problem extends well beyond Hastert’s old district.
  • Voters aren’t buying Democrat policies as much as they are rejecting an entire generation of failed Republican leaders.
  • There’s a great irony in the fact that the side supporting greater funding for the failed status quo is beating what is supposed to be the party of reform.
  • Republican fortunes can be turned around in short order with principled leadership that knows how to communicate.
  • A Republican reformation of the civic and political culture is needed to counter those profiting at taxpayers’ expense.
  • A domestic troop surge is needed and a Republican renaissance is underway.
  • The primary and special election in the 14th C.D. provided a terrific example of everything that’s wrong with current campaigns and Republican thinking.

Let’s face it, thinking has never been a strong suit for those in Republican political circles. How else can you explain the party with the better ideas continuing to fail to even try to win public support for them? Think tanks from coast to coast have provided ample evidence that what the Democrats offer can’t be made to work, yet Democrats win elections anyway.

It’s pretty clear that few Republicans know what to do next. Most have some vague notion of where we’re at, but not enough understand why, or how we’re going to get where we need to be.

In that same C-Span appearance, Gingrich talked about a bright future and what it’s going to take to get there:

“We are on the edge of a renaissance comparable to Florence in the 16th Century.

I think we are going to have a four-to-seven fold increase in scientific knowledge in the next 25 years. I think we are going to have an explosive increase in our ability to learn. I think we’re going to have an extraordinary transformation of our health system. I think we will fundamentally change our energy system towards hydrogen and towards composite materials.

And America thirty years from now will be the leading country in the world and we will actually be pulling away in net wealth and capability.

But it will only come by going through an enormous transformation of our current failing bureaucracies and requiring that we move from the world that fails into the world that works, and that is going to be an enormous political fight.”

Note the words “enormous political fight.” A timely example for Illinois GOP reformers is being provided by like-minded people in the state of Alaska.

It’ll be rough at times, but worth it. Thomas Paine put it this way: the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. If you’re an activist and you don’t have the stomach for intramural battle, it is best you retire to another activity and get out of the way.

Breaking with a failed past is an American tradition. Republicans need only do it again.

Up next: The GOP’s problems extend well beyond Hastert’s old district.

©2008 John Francis Biver

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