After the outcome of Tuesday's presidential election, I have a couple of suggestions for the Republican Party in the wake of two consecutive unsuccessful campaigns for the White House: Stop grabbing lightening rods and pay attention to what people are saying and what's going on around the country.
Sure, things like the United States economy are important, but so are the rights of its citizens; things like women's rights to make their own medical decisions. Forget the lame attempts at commercials featuring obviously paid actors worrying how they will talk to their children about the huge deficit (like their children's eyes won't glass over when they broach the subject).
And here was former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney bemoaning the fact that Florida was in dire straits, while that state's governor was on CNBC touting Florida's business fortunes. Didn't you wonder why he wasn't climbing aboard the GOP bandwagon? And the gall of wanting New Jersey's governor to take time out from the disaster that left thousands devastated from the destruction the most recent storm. I mean, really? And you were miffed that Gov. Chris Christie offered a warm welcome to President Barack Obama who showed up to pledge the nation's support in time of need? Please.
Both Christie and Florida Gov. Rick Scott were talking but the GOP wasn't listening.
In the case of lightening rods. consider the vice presidential running mates selected by the campaigns of both Sen. John McCain and Romney.
First, look at who was tabbed to be a heartbeat away from the presidency should something happen to McCain: the moose-hunter from Alaska, then Gov. Sarah Palin. Yeah, like that was a smart decision. Can you imagine how the rest of the world would react to her shrill, high-pitched rantings?
Maybe someone in McCain's camp thought that was a good idea, but it's hard to imagine the senator had much to do with the choice.
Then, rather than meet the Hispanic issue head on and name someone like Florida Sen. Marco Rubio to join his crusade, Romney's camp picked an even more polarizing U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, whose ideas threw the fear of God into retirees, who worried that their Social Security and Medicare entitlements would be in jeopardy. And while both Romney and Ryan pledged to repeal so-called Obamacare, neither offered an alternative health care plan.
Former President George W. Bush understood and could relate to some degree to the growing Hispanic population and did fairly well with that constituency. At one point McCain crossed party lines to propose a plan to deal with illegal immigrants. But McCain's willingness to deal with the issue was quickly overshadowed once Mama Grizzly Palin came aboard. And that discussion became lost in the fiscal rhetoric of the Romney campaign.
So here's the deal. In the future, the GOP needs to avoid lightening rods. They are dangerous to a candidate's political health. And, pay attention to what's really going on in the country; listen to what is being said and be cognizant of what really matters to people. Oh, and try to be more inclusive. You aren't and haven't been for some time.
Will these suggestions pave the way to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue? Maybe, maybe not, but what's been tried in recent campaigns haven't.