There’s no need for an autopsy, the body has already been torn apart a million different ways. There is no shortage of people offering their hot takes on why it was Republicans did so poorly in the midterms (including my own, which I believe to be the correct option). That being said, which person is to blame is not as relevant to the state of the Republican Party going forward as what they’re going to do about it. As the sharp elbows turn toward the future, where they eventually land matters. I have some suggestions, if Republicans actually want to win.
First, the idea that it was “candidate quality” isn’t completely without merit. Bad candidates don’t inspire anyone to show up and vote. It’s not always enough to get voters to dislike the opponent – unless it’s personal, a lot of people won’t bother showing up to vote against someone, and we need every vote we can get.
So, recruit better candidates and unite behind them. In a lot of these races Democrats picked the Republican. It was funny when it looked like the Republicans were going to win anyway – the idea was like Dan Aykroyd choosing the form of Gozer the Gozerian to be the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man – but Democrats crossed the streams and Republicans lost.
I’m not suggesting Republicans spend $50 million to help nominate weak Democrats like they did, but I’m not saying they shouldn’t either. In certain races, absolutely Republicans should go in and mess around in their primary process. Turnabout is the fairest of plays, perhaps the only truly fair play.
With that being said, and in the interest of fair play, the most important thing Republicans have to do is learn to play under the new rules for voting. Yes, mail-in voting is garbage, and ballot harvesting sucks. But they’re also both part of the reality right now. If Republicans don’t learn to be good at them, better than Democrats, forget about it.
There have been, and still are, all sorts of laws on the books in various states that are/were horrible. Democrats created the system of Jim Crow to make it impossible for black people to vote, for example. Those laws had to be destroyed, but until they were Republicans had to learn to win within them.
Republicans were only moderately successful in winning under Jim Crow, Democrat enforcers in the KKK were too strong, but at least the GOP tried. Today’s obstacles are much different and easier to overcome than the left’s burning bigotry.
Republicans need to stop with the whining about mail-in ballots and start encouraging their voters to use them. There’s no way to measure how many people didn’t show up on Election Day because something suddenly came up, but the number is obviously more than zero.
Moreover, it does not matter when or how a vote is cast, it counts just the same. Early voting is stupid – we managed to vote all on one day for more than 200 years (and we could count the votes in a few hours too), we should go back to that. Until we do, however, this is the way things are. The GOP needs to encourage people – hell, every person they come in contact with they’re fairly convinced will vote for them – to vote as soon as possible. Then they need to circle back to make sure they did it and harvest that ballot (if it hasn’t already been mailed) to ensure it gets to the polls.
These are the rules for now, they’d better learn to win within them because they’ve only excelled at losing while whining about them.
Fight to change them in the various states, but until that happens they’d better get good at what Democrats are currently beating the crap out of them doing.
Think of it this way: Imagine a tax credit you personally think is garbage (whatever it is doesn’t matter) and you are working hard to repeal it. Then imagine one year you qualify for it, and it would save you thousands. You’d be a damned fool not to take it. Does it make you a hypocrite? No. That’s the rule, and just because you’re trying to change the rule doesn’t mean you can’t and shouldn’t avail yourself of the rules while they exist.
In fact, if Republicans get good at ballot harvesting and pressuring people to vote early, by mail, etc., you might see Democrats call for ending those things because of it. Democrats oppose anything Republicans do well, even if Democrats used to do them well too.
As long as garbage voting rules are in place in states across the country Republicans need to get good at them. Dislike of the current reality doesn’t change it.