In April 2013, Save Jerseyans, before New Jersey was buried in snow, ice, and subpoenas, I responded to a new poll showing widespread support for a minimum wage hike among voters, including Republicans, by posing a simple and practical rhetorical question:
“How will voters recognize, appreciate and response to those significant differences when Republican acquiesce or remain silent on hugely important issues like the minimum wage?”
Now you know what I did back then if you didn’t already. Trenton Republicans didn’t even try to combat the Democrats’ prevailing narrative in Election 2013.
The end result? The predictable one: a total Democratic victory. And I see more ahead if we don’t reverse course quickly…
The GOP hadn’t being doing its job – providing New Jersey voters with a meaningful, clearly-articulated alternative at the polls – and they’ve paid for it dearly.
The Christie Administration continues to pay for it as Bridgegate, Sandygate, and As-Yet-Unnamedgate drag on endlessly.
An inability and unwillingness to advance our ideas, even in defeat, is also the true sin of what happened yesterday in Washington, D.C., Save Jerseyans, when 25 non-New Jersey Republicans, lead by their leadership, joined with Democrats to raise the nation’s debt ceiling through March 2015 without any strings attached. Three Garden State Republicans voted with them. It’s more fuel on the fire for an already-raging GOP civil war.
The worst part in my humble opinion is that it was totally avoidable.
Please don’t misunderstand me: there’s a lot of truth under-girding Speaker John Boehner’s position, that his caucus’s decision to perennially fight these hard-to-message procedural battles over the budget and the debt ceiling are “losers” for the GOP in a year when they’d prefer to focus on Obamacare. “Getting the monkey off of their backs” is the popular conceptualization making its rounds on Capitol Hill.
At the same time, politics is a lot like war, and there are all different kinds of wins and losses to be had when the fighting stops and a temporary cessation of hostilities in achieved.
The holistic analysis is the best analysis. Yes, “picking your fights” is critical. Total victory isn’t realistic for the GOP at this point in time, either in D.C. or Trenton, since the other side controls too much territory. That’s where some of our Tea Party friends often get it wrong. Mass vents and purges compound the problem.
Nothing can happen without the U.S. Senate back under Republican control.
We could, however, generate more Republican tactical victories (and quite a few Democrat Pyrrhic victories, like Obamacare may soon prove to be) if our leaders spent more time ascertaining ways to win over persuadable hearts and minds than struggling in vain for the approval of folks in the media and on the other side who will NEVER join us. You don’t have to be Governor Christie to know that; anyone who’s ever tried to engage a liberal friend on Facebook knows that.
Running on the “we’ll do the same thing less, but better” platform is a guaranteed loser every single time it’s ever tried, folks. “The Party of No” can’t win unless it’s willing and able to confidently, optimistically and relentlessly market its own ideas.
Is there anyone left in either capital city who remembers how? I’m just not sure anymore. All I can promise is that we’ll keep trying to do our part right here at Save Jersey…