It has been a week since the elections here in Delaware. For the most part the GOP had its hat handed to it. We fared better down here in Sussex County then we did state-wide. I have for the most part stayed out of the back and forth over why. I have heard the expected blame game of what went wrong.
I have heard that it was this candidate’s fault or that leader’s fault. I have listened while fellow Republicans have blamed each other for not doing enough. And maybe there is a grain of truth in all of these assessments.
The question we must ask ourselves as Republicans is how do we move forward from here. I happen to believe that even though we lost some offices as Republicans, we made gains as conservatives. We motivated the conservative base of the party to get involved. That is a good thing.
Many people are talking about “how” we are going to move the party. I feel that first we must decide “where” we are moving it to. What are the goals of those, like myself, that feel that a change is way over due. Do we want change just for change sake? Do we want change just to settle old scores within the party? Or do we want change to better the party, so as to create a strong party that can actually represent the will of the voters?
Our goals also should include more than just winning elections. This has too often been our only goal, and it leaves the party without an ideological direction. I believe that ideological direction should be a straight line conservative movement. Those who have followed my writing know that I hold to the belief that straight line conservatism will actually bring more people to the GOP.
So what is “straight line conservatism” ? In my view it is a three-legged stool. Those three legs represent what I believe are the three building blocks of conservatism and a strong society. You have fiscal conservatism, you have the conservative values and principles that hold to the Founding documents(Declaration of Independence and the Constitution), and you have a conservative view of how to handle social issues. These are the three legs of the stool. Remove any one of the three and the stool falls over.
I think that this is why the GOP in Delaware has been on a road to failure for too long. We have been told that in Delaware you can’t be elected if you talk about conservative social issues. Why? I’ll get to that later. Right now let’s look at the last election, and of course we will naturally have to talk about the two top of the ticket races. Christine O’Donnell and Glen Urquhart. These two races are held up as being the agenda setting races for the down ticket races. Most people know that these two candidates are strong Christian candidates. Most know that they hold their faith close to their hearts. Most voters who supported these two candidates knew where they stood on the social issues. But what are the social issues?
This is where I think we lose the message war. In this cycle our candidates carried the fiscal conservative banner high and proud. We heard about taxes and spending and waste. Our candidates talked about the constitution and about how we must adhere to our founding principles. But no one ever really put the third leg on the stool, social issues.
Now when I say social issues, all of the moderates and liberals immediately start thinking abortion and gay marriage. The liberals will start screaming women’s right to choose and equal rights for homosexuals to marry. And we as conservatives have tended to become defensive and get down in the weeds with them. But in my mind social issues encompass much more than those two provocative issues.
When we talk about social issues we must include issues that affect families. We have single mothers raising children, some with the help of their families but all too often with the help of the government. Many of these single mothers are a result of unwanted teenage pregnancy. These teen pregnancies also too often end in abortions. Social issues include crime and drug use, alcohol abuse,which can and do lead to the unwanted teen age pregnancies. Social issues include the conditions of the schools and the fact that many of the poorest among us are trapped in the worst schools because they can’t afford private schools. When we talk about social issues we must understand that this term includes anything that affect society.
We must understand that the three legs of the stool are not separate. They must work together and if one is weak, then the other two will buckle under the strain. Let us look at what is almost always considered a fiscal issue, jobs and unemployment. I believe that unemployment is the number one social issue. Why? Because it has the greatest effect on our society. If people are unemployed then they will make desperate choices. Some will turn to government for support, short-term this is not a bad thing. But when it becomes a way of life being handed down through generations, it becomes a drain on the society. Some may turn to crime. This may include stealing, and also assault. People who are unemployed may turn to drugs and alcohol, again leading to bad choices in their lives that may lead to more bad choices. Let us not forget that financial pressure often is the leading cause of divorce, so once again unemployment can be the cause of creating broken homes. This in turn creates more women and children who may be forced to turn to government for help.
So from a fiscal conservative point of view, it is right to work to help put people back to work, or to get them working for the first time. It is also right to do this from a social conservative point of view, to reduce the amount of crimes, drug use and bad choices and broken homes.
As for the other leg of the stool, those all too important Founding values and principles of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution, well that is where we must look to for guidance in how to solve our problems. Those documents are our road map to individual Liberty. That Liberty is what allows us to achieve all that we are willing to work for. Those values and those principles that are encapsulated in those documents have been what has made this the greatest and freest nation in the world, it is only when we stray from them that we falter as a nation and a society.
So, how do we use this three-legged stool to move the Delaware GOP forward? I feel that we must give equal time and value to all three legs. I feel that in this last election we gave great amounts of time to spreading our message of fiscal conservatism and our belief in our Founding principles. But we gave little or no effort to spreading a message of social conservatism as I have spelled it out. I believe we left a lot of people home who may have been motivated to come out had we been better messengers.
Much has been said about getting out the vote and the ground game. Well one would have to think that 80% or more of getting out the vote is about the message and the messenger. We know that we failed to win over voters in New Castle County. That county has many of our poorest neighborhoods, our highest crime rates. Drug use is so bad in Wilmington that we have a needle exchange program there. We have large minority communities in New Castle County. These communities suffer under some of the highest rates for drug use and alcohol abuse. Teen pregnancies, abortions, single mothers, broken homes and unemployment. Their schools are some of the most dangerous and poorest achieving within the state and yet the Democrats argue against school vouchers to protect the teachers unions.
These are the issues that I believe can bridge the gap between what has been historically separate worlds when it comes to elections. But we within the GOP of Delaware must have the courage of our convictions and be willing to take this message to communities that in the past we may have written off as being unchangeable. I happen to think that in these communities there are parents that want their children to grow up in homes with two parents. That they want their daughters to have educations before they have children. I don’t think any woman “wants” an abortion. These citizens want schools that are safe and that actually teach, and not just warehouse their children. They want to be able to sit on their front steps without being afraid of gun fire or being robbed. They want in New Castle County, that which all Delawareans want, what all citizens of the United States want, they want freedom and dignity.
I personally intend to work to spread this message, I believe it should be our goal as a party, but more importantly, it should be our goal as a society.