(Denver Post, Nov. 25) Show me a sore loser, and I’ll show you a loser. This has rung in my ears since the election, as I listened to some fellow Republicans and conservatives weeping, whining, and caterwauling. Not to mention griping, blaming, and sulking. Enough already. Good losers being similarly scorned, who does that leave? Political party animals who rebound from a loss with humility, humor, and honesty. Happy warriors who take a setback in stride, undaunted yet undefensive. Those are the comrades I’ll share a shell-shocked foxhole with. The authors of anguished obituaries for America and the GOP need not apply. For a couple of days after Nov. 6, it’s true, I was bluer than the MSNBC presidential map. Then I stumbled on one of those websites, PoliticalDefeatTherapy.com, with a guaranteed offer to dispel the darkness and put you back on daylight time after voters clean your clock. Click, pay, and my Republican Rehab Kit was on the way.
When it came, I was initially disappointed. No Kryptonite to reduce Reid and Pelosi to jello. Not a word about Obama’s real birthplace. The envelope contained nothing but three toys – a magnifying glass, a telescope, and a small mirror – plus a pocket edition of the Declaration of Independence and U. S. Constitution. My $19.95 for this?
The instruction sheet - which I read last; typical man – quickly clarified things, however. To get past the superficial “optics” of the Democrats’ big victory, it advised, we Republicans can regain clear vision by putting the 2012 results under a magnifier, then scanning history and the future with a spyglass, and then, above all, looking hard at ourselves in the mirror.
But at no point in this perspective-recovering process, the instructions warned, should a shaken GOP entertain the temptation of abandoning its 150-year fidelity to individual liberty and personal responsibility, limited government and rule of law, free enterprise and private property, human rights and moral truth as gifts from God – the principles in America’s founding documents – first voiced by my party in behalf of the African slave.
This country doesn’t need, in other words, two liberal parties. Nor does it need a quixotic third party, a neo-Confederate secession craze, or a John Galt dropout movement. It needs the Republican party to continue our historically indispensable – and resiliently effective – role as the conservative party for these United States.
The magnifying glass that came in my rehab kit showed the Dems’ retention of the White House and Senate, as well as their Colorado legislative gains, to have been a tactical victory won on intensity and execution, not a repudiation of conservatism. The telescope, looking back, revealed many a political pendulum swing after all seemed lost – think 1964 for my side, 2004 for their side – and likely the same when looking ahead.
Then there was the mirror. Gazing into it was painful, but what a reality bath. Had the GOP, me included, often forgotten that politics is about people no less than principles? Was the other side’s edge in intensity and execution, securing reelection for Obama, baggage and all, partly our fault? Who could be to blame for the tarnished Republican brand but us? Ouch and ouch again.
Inviting a number of conservative audiences to try the mirror exercise has been interesting. There was pushback. “Nobody in this room bears any of the blame,” insisted a friend in Denver. “That’s moderate talk, RINO talk,” said another friend in Grand Junction.
“Death of a Nation,” went an online whine from Colorado Springs. “GOP, DOA, RIP,” moaned an email from Evergreen. Oh really? Time will tell. I’m betting that 2014 and 2016 will prove the reports of conservatism’s demise, like that of Mark Twain, to have been greatly exaggerated.