Lessons From the Red Trickle

Lessons From the Red Trickle

Like millions of other Republicans, I tuned into FOX News last Tuesday night to watch the election results roll in. ROLL IN… like a huge Red Wave, maybe even a tsunami of epic proportions.

And, like those same Republicans, I was thoroughly deflated as I watched seat after seat that we were supposed to capture (or at least compete in) fall into Democrat hands. Down went Pennsylvania… down went New Hampshire… down went New York, Michigan, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington State. A few days later, Arizona and Nevada disappointed us as well.

Sure, there were some bright spots such as Ron DeSantis and Marco Rubio thumping their Democratic challengers in Florida, Ron Johnson eking out a closer-than-expected win in Wisconsin, and J.D. Vance riding Mike DeWine’s coattails to victory in Ohio. But those were “holds” not “pick-ups” and so, the possibility of a GOP majority in the Senate turned out to be nothing more than a Bugs Bunny mirage.

If there is one overriding lesson to be learned from the less-than-stellar midterm results, it is this: wishful thinking doesn’t win elections. Connecting to voters does.

Yes, Republican strategists and a whole host of discredited pollsters woke up on Wednesday morning with egg on their faces and – in the words of Ricky Ricardo – lots of “splaining to do.” And so, while we wait for their respective mea culpas, I’d like to share a few recommendations that the GOP leaders might want to consider.

  • Learn to maximize early voting and mail-in ballots. The Democrats have made an art form of nonconventional voting and, while I am not a fan of absentee ballots in particular, they seem to be here to stay. And so, instead of bemoaning their existence, let’s start to win the early voting war so that we are not constantly playing catch-up on Election Day.

 

  • Channel your inner Ronald Reagan and offer an upbeat, positive, and optimistic message.The Republican Party cannot win over independents and other swing voters with our doom and gloom predictions or by repeatedly stating what we are against. We must take a page from the Gipper’s playbook and learn to communicate what we stand for in a winsome way. Messaging matters!

 

  • Get outside your own echo chamber. I, for one, will start to watch less FOX News and more CNN and MSNBC. Not because I agree with them – because I don’t – and not because I want to ramp up my heartburn medication. Simply put, we must know how the rest of the country thinks… and know our enemies better than they know themselves… and that doesn’t happen by surrounding yourself with nothing but like-minded people.

 

  • Lower our median age. This won’t be pleasant news to my fellow Baby Boomers, but our generation is starting to die off. Replacing us are Generations X, Y, and Z… and now Alpha… and they aren’t looking to follow – let alone vote for – octogenarians.

Wouldn’t it be great to be known as the party with the freshest, brightest, and youngest candidates instead of Mitch McConnell and Chuck Grassley being the increasingly haggard face of the GOP? Let the Democrats be the ones whose team picture resembles a nursing home yearbook. Yes, experience is important but, at some point, we need to put some old donkeys and some even older elephants out to pasture. An infusion of new blood in the form of candidates in their 30s, 40s, and 50s could prove to be a real boon to the GOP.

 

  • Offer common sense solutions. Enough of the high-brow nonsense that doesn’t affect everyday life. Most voters couldn’t find Afghanistan or Ukraine on a map, but they know where their local gas stations and supermarkets are. Let them know what we plan to do about exorbitant prices and runaway inflation… and then do it when we gain control… which leads me to my next point.

 

  • Be proven problem solvers. Ron DeSantis, Mike DeWine, and Chris Sununu won landslides because they were perceived as governors who “got ‘er done.” Meanwhile, the Republican Party held the trifecta of power – the Presidency and both Houses of Congress – from 2017 to 2019 and had precious little to show for it besides a big tax cut that the Dems framed as a handout to corporations and the wealthiest Americans. Of course, that wasn’t true but, as usual, we lost the PR war… which is Point #7.

 

  • Speak in relatable terms. That doesn’t mean talking down to the voters, but it does mean speaking in plain political language they can understand. Educated and well-informed voters tend to vote Republican… so let’s educate and inform them!

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Dale Glading is an ordained minister and former N.J. Republican candidate for Congress.