In The Weekly Standard, Bill Kristol writes that the GOP’s helpless disorganization is a good thing, because Republicans were disorganized until Ronald Reagan came along to save America. Or something.
What Kristol doesn’t acknowledge is that charismatic, transformational presidents like Reagan only come along once in a generation, if that. In the 20th century, there were only two presidents who permanently changed the electoral map–Franklin Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan.
Barack Obama might or might not fall into that category, it’s far too early to tell. But when they were out of power, the Democratic Party didn’t sit around waiting for a messiah to come. They got to work building the 50-state strategy, building a network of online small donors, crafting messaging, drafting legislation and working on a unified front. The Democrats no strong leader in 2006, but they won because they made fundamental changes to the way they campaigned, raised money and presented their message. And if Democrats hadn’t started doing that work, Barack Obama would never have won the White House.
Elections aren’t magic–they’re won or lost for real, concrete reasons. The Republican Party might need a new, charismatic leader to be able to win again, but that doesn’t mean the GOP shouldn’t be building the infrastructure that will help that person get into office. It’s foolish and naive to think that some conservative savior will come along and singlehandedly change everything with no help whatsoever. A lot has changed since 1980; Republicans need to do more than to sit around praying for the next Reagan.
Former Republican Congressman Tom Davis wrote this a few weeks ago:
[D]oing nothing, I hope Republicans will agree, is not an option.
Apparently Bill Kristol thinks it’s not only an option, but that it’s the best option. And while he and his fellow Republicans are waiting for their electoral Godot, they will end up ceding election after election to the Democrats.