The votes are counted. The confetti and balloons have been swept from the floor. The challenger has conceded. And the finger-pointing and clothes-rending have begun.
This election, as lopsided as the result was in the Electoral College, did not give the President of the United States a true mandate. It was not a ringing endorsement of his first four years, which were as beset by failures in his own party as by Tea Party obstructionism.
But it did give him the election. And it proved that the forces that conducted a right-wing takeover of the Republican Party have attained their high-water mark, and that their appeal, along with their power, has begun to recede. If the election proved anything, it is that the nation will not long tolerate rule by intolerance, that the reign of reactionaries is as repugnant to the silent majority of Americans as rule by radicals. America chose the unsavory Richard Nixon over the radical George McGovern in 1972. The vote this time was an equal rejection of an extremist from the other side.
We would be foolish to restrict our analysis of this election to the Presidential contest, because some of the more meaningful results came from other races. Elizabeth Warren, who for whatever other virtues she possesses is not the best politician ever to run for Massachusetts senate, won a hotly contested election with incumbent Scott Brown in Mitt Romney’s own state. Todd Akin, Richard Mourdock, Allen West, and Joe Walsh were defeated, and Michelle Bachmann barely kept her seat. The Tea Party still has influence, to be sure, and the GOP agenda on Capitol Hill looks to pander as much to the far right wing of our party in January as it did a year ago. But the appeal of the Tea Party agenda has suffered a marked decline.
Reviving our Party, Reviving America
We now have an historic opportunity to dust off the big tent and return the Party of Lincoln to its roots, not as a coven for the forces of reaction, but as the standard-bearer of intelligent policy, efficient government, fiscal responsibility, a strong national defense, opportunity for all, and despair for none.
History has placed before us a litany of challenges that would test the limits of any people and any form of governance. We know, as Republicans, that the answer to those challenges lies in repairing and strengthening our institutions, not demolishing them or exchanging them for a fashionable bandolier of silver bullets. Governance is hard work, but undertaken by principled men and women armed with integrity, wisdom, and determination, this nation can and will emerge from our multiple crises better, stronger, and worthy of being what John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan called “a shining city on a hill,” a nation worthy of her people and of the admiration of all peoples.
To do that, though, we must repair the abused foundations of the Grand Old Party.
We must be as aware of the difference between “conservative” and “reactionary” as we are of the differences between “conservative” and “liberal.”
We must remember that progress for its own sake is no virtue, but that progress as an answer to an otherwise intractable question is no vice.
We must remember that it has been under the hands of Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and even Richard M. Nixon that this nation has proven that wise policy can be visionary, and that visionary policy can be wise.
Changing our Politics
We must put an end to the politics of ideology, and return to the politics of principle.
We must put an end to the politics of the few and return to the politics of the many.
We must put an end to the politics of division and return to the politics of unity.
We must put an end to the politics of obstruction and return to the politics of construction.
We must put an end to the politics wherein the extremists of both sides set the national agenda, and return to a politics where the most radical or reactionary among us will always have a vote, but will never again have a veto.
And if we cannot see our way clear to do all of this for ourselves, let us do it for those who gave us this country to watch over, and for our children, born and unborn, to whom we must pass a healthy nation, a strong nation, a nation of the people, by the people, and for all people who love freedom and opportunity.
The future starts now, and it starts with us. We are Republicans, and we will take back first our party by placing before the entire nation a vision for a better future and a pathway to get there. A vision not just for the 1%, or the 99% or the 53%, or the 47%, but for all of us.
The Journey of A Thousand Miles
Today, as the dawn of a new week breaks across America, we begin this work.
In the coming days, weeks, and months we will begin crafting the future and our nation. I invite your thoughts, your input, and your debate. We are rebuilding the Big Tent, creating a standard of principles and policies for all America. We will not campaign, and campaigning will not be tolerated. We are forging the intellectual capital of a restored Republican Party.
Some people may laugh, some may ridicule, some may call us fools, RINOs, or worse. Ignore them.
We have a lot of work to do.