Political Herd: Republican Columnist

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By: DAVE KLEPPICK

Here’s a secret: the Republicans won incredible gains in the 2010 midterm elections.

President Obama got hit with it around midnight on election night, a hard enough hit to prompt him to use the type of language I use after losing a video game, calling the loss a “shellacking.”

After soon-to-be Speaker of the House John Boehner finished his tearful victory speech he must have thought, “What a great message the American people sent Washington tonight.”

Then he must have thought, “What are we Republicans going to do now?”

Since the late 1970s, campaigning for Republicans has been like a Sarah Palin speech: Easy to like because of  quirkiness and the I-could-drink-a-beer-with-her persona with the charisma necessary to drive home a simple message.

I have confidence the Republicans have their ducks in a row this time. They ran on a simple message as usual.
The 2008 presidential and congressional winners didn’t follow through on their promise of ‘Change.’

I’m not saying they haven’t had an incredible track record when it comes to passing important legislation. They have.

But with each piece of important legislation, specifically Obamacare and the stimulus package, Republicans have gained more and more ammunition to use against the Democrats in the election. Why? Because Republicans are far more effective at driving home the messages and slogans needed to win over an electorate.  

Articulating a clear message was made even easier when the Democrats rammed their “important legislation” down the throats of the American people without so much as an informed debate.  There were thousands of pages of law voted on and passed without even reading the bills.

On top of it all, they ignored the issues most important to Americans – the economy and jobs – so they could push their agenda successfully while they had the votes. In terms of effective messaging, the election of 2008 has to go to the Democrats.

‘Hope’ and ‘Change’ were fitting considering the times. The Democrats ran successfully in 2008 by running against George Bush.  

More importantly, congressional Democrats were following one of the most politically savvy candidates since Ronald Reagan in Barack Obama.

In the election of 2010, the Republicans ran successfully by running against the Democratic legislative dictates of the past two years.  More importantly, we saw the Republicans dominate in the messaging column with their candidates showing similar political skill.

Behind the influx of Tea Party candidates and, it pains me to say this, the leadership of John Boehner, the Republicans were able to define the complex legislation in their own terms.

They defined Obamacare as a government intrusion into the everyday life of simple Americans. They defined the stimulus package as a failed experiment of great thinkers who selfishly underestimated the “American Dream.”

Republicans put out inexperienced candidates that were politically savvy much like the Democrats did in 2008.

For example, Marco Rubio, the elected senator of Florida is an ambitious Cuban-American who wowed the electorate with his eloquent speeches and political understanding. Nikki Hunter, the governor-elect from South Carolina, showed political skill with her talent as a speaker.

The Republicans will fail if they treat this election like the Democrats did in 2008. Politically savvy candidates don’t always translate into great elected officials.  

I am confident the Republicans have a handle on their ‘Pledge to America.’  It’s simple – stop spending what we don’t have.  Get the budget in line with spending cuts and tax increases.  Get the necessary things done first. Compromise if necessary.  

We need action – not posturing and political point-scoring.

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