We let Democrats define the terms of our defeat

When Democrats set the terms of the 2012 campaign for state and federal offices, Republican leaders blew their horns about jobs and the economy and counted on their position of strength and the glaring weaknesses in their enemy’s lines to secure victory.

Democratic victories on Nov. 6 quite simply reflected a tactical failure of top-ticket Republicans to defend the party’s message. This was a failure to define and defend Republican principles.

Republican leaders assumed that the people had enough of social issues and wanted to focus on the economy instead — and, by and large, Republicans successfully governed on economic recovery issues during the past two years.

Democrats understood the visceral nature of social issues and successfully tarnished liberty as the enemy of their carefully crafted relationship between business and government. Republicans didn’t respond. They thought that by ignoring the problem it would go away.

But had Republican leaders chosen to explain the Republican Party to voters, they just might have received some votes.

A “big tent” Republican Party includes moderates and the socially agnostic, but let’s be clear: there is no tent without conservatives and libertarians. There’s just Democrats and Democrats-lite.

I contend that New Hampshire truly wants neither — and so goes the nation.

Faced with the ludicrous and fallacious Democratic idea that Republicans want to end all abortions and take contraceptives away from women, Republicans should have explained that Roe v. Wade is the law of the land until it’s overturned. And at the same time, they should have explained that there are alternatives to abortion, that women deserve other options, such as child care services, especially if they’re going to college (tuition certainly does pay for it already).

Republicans should have turned the tables on Democrats: “Who are the real extremists? Who removed from their platform the goal that abortion be ‘safe and rare’? Who supports living children being murdered when their body is already outside the womb? Who supports letting infants die on a surgical table because their abortion went wrong? Who wants taxpayers to foot the bill for this stuff?”

Without a doubt, Democrats had the extreme agenda, but we didn’t tell voters about it.

Republicans can change some of our policy positions to more consistently represent the principles in our platform. On immigration, millions of inalienably free human beings simply want to live a better life in America, but our laws don’t allow it. We must craft a common-sense solution that balances the rule of law and the reality that these illegal immigrants must be treated with the dignity that we must afford to all human beings. We also must recognize that the large illegal immigrant population contributes to our economy in important ways, and we need to stop catering to the people who resist a common sense policy that allows for the free trade of labor across national boundaries.

The bottom line is this: Republicans need to unite around their platform or they’ll all be lost to the isolation of their own personal perfection. Let’s hope they get it right next time, for the sake of us all.

Carolyn McKinney is chair of the Republican Liberty Caucus of New Hampshire.

Categories: Opinion