August 5, 2010

The GOP's dilemna - ambition versus caution.

I'm of two minds when it comes to both the 2010 mid-term elections and the 2012 Presidential elections, assuming both resolve successfully for the GOP. There's some lessons to be learned from President Obama's run as President as well as his 2008 election campaign. I will be posting more on that in the next few days. But one thing that deserves mentioning immediately is where does the GOP go after big wins? Everyone conservative wants Obamacare repealed. Most want something done about the debt.  And then there's jobs and a stalled economy recovery to deal with.

Where neighborhood = America
On one hand there's the idea of having just as an aggressive agenda as did President Obama and the Democrats in Congress.  Undoing the damage to the country that has been done over the last year and a half is obviously a priority.  And sticking to your word to your constituency would go a long way to erase the image of the GOP circa 2006 as being elitist and out of touch.  That mantle has now been assumed by Democrats, why take it back?

On the other hand, there is the issue of trying to manage not to over-reach and be overly ambitious. There is the option of being cautious and careful.  Look what that myopic way of seeing things and doing things did for the President, it ruined his approval rating.  Rushing headlong into change is a stupid way to run a country.

While there is likely a fine balance somewhere in between these two points, finding that line could be difficult.  Just as after Obama's win, expectations will be sky high.  Who on the right doesn't want a comprehensive and aggressive agenda of fixes?  I know I do. The difference for the GOP is that there are some inherent advantages for them so as not to have to follow the same path of voter alienation as the Democrats did. 

Firstly they have a sitting President, with a polar opposite view of the solution to many issues.  In fact he may not even agree with Republicans on which issues are indeed issues and which aren't.  The fact that he exists as a braking mechanism that he himself did not have to contend with, actually helps the GOP.  They can be as aggressive as they want on their agenda and pass far reaching reform because ultimately, President Obama will either cave and agree to it, or he will veto it.  Either way the agenda get pushed forward.  President Obama would likely lean heavily on the veto power between 2010 and 2012, but that would just give Republicans ammunition for the 2012 Presidential and Congressional elections, because President Obama will become:

The President of 'No'.

That means a whole lot more than it was attempted to mean in connect with the GOP.  The President will have a double negative - he'll be viewed as a President of no solutions that helped the economy and the American people, and a President who says no to the solutions of Congress.

The other advantage the GOP has to use, if it so chooses, is to be proactive over the next 90 days.  If they outline an agenda of some popular platform items (for example reducing or eliminating the deficits, repealing the current health care law, real immigration reform for example) prior to the election it will go a long way. Remember the Contract With America?  By being proactive now, they set the table for what is to come and there will be no surprises.  Candidate Obama was a tabula rasa for many voters - a blank slate.  They pictured him as they saw him, not as who he was.  So his leftward drift has stunned many people who fell for his shtick in 2008.  That's the primary reason for the backlash - voter self-delusion.  If you telegraph your intentions you take away that backlash because you don't do anything that will come as a shock to voters.  They know where you are going.

The latter point also helps with the former.  Once the GOP start passing all this legislation and it starts getting vetoed by President Obama, it plays very well into the image of President Obama as;

The President of 'No'.

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