New Hampshire Senator Judd Gregg (R) inadvertently asks an insightful rhetorical question in a WSJ 0p-ed:
It’s true: Republicans lost the election, we lost the Congress, and we lost the presidency. Does anyone still care what we think?
In a word, Senator, no.
The Republicans lost power for the same reason any political party loses–they became irrelevant. The American people voted Republicans out of office because the GOP didn’t represent them anymore.
Party loyalty isn’t guaranteed for life. Democrats won former Republican votes because Democrats focused on solving the problems ordinary citizens faced and they proposed solutions that the American people found appealing.
It’s not difficult to understand–when your opponents pursue their ideology so far down the road nobody is following them anymore, it’s pretty easy to fill the leadership vacuum in their absence. And that’s exactly what the Democrats did.
Simply put, the GOP needs to become relevant again. But unfortunately for them, it’s hard to find any worthwhile ideas in conservative circles anymore. Everything they have is either retreaded Reaganology/Gingrichonomics or it’s so esoteric nobody outside the hallowed halls of the Heritage Foundation cares (eliminating university speech codes? Really?)
So no, Senator Gregg, a lot of people don’t care what you guys think anymore, and that’s a problem of your own making. Until you all give them a reason to care, all of your pleas and entreaties for this policy or that revision are going to fall on deaf–if not outright hostile–ears.
Of course, the GOP won’t be irrelevant forever. But it’s going to take a lot of work, a lot of innovation and a lot of patience for the Republican Party to get back to where they were just a few short years ago in terms of being trusted by the American people.
And from what I’ve seen, they might not have what it takes to pull themselves out of the hole they dug.