It ain't over 'til it's over
Yesterday 2.7 million more people voted for President Obama than did for Governor Mitt Romney. It’s a solid and undisputed win. In the wake of that outcome I’ve heard so many disparaging remarks today that I want to share three key reflections about this election, lessons we can learn so that we don’t end up here again.
Know Thyself. Know Thy Enemy.
Lesson one is that our enemy isn’t our fellow conservative Americans. Mitt Romney was a winning candidate. In simple terms, roughly 57.4 million Americans proudly cast their ballot for Romney/Ryan nationwide. Americans in 24 states chose Governor Romney at the polls for him to garner their state’s Electoral College vote. If the sum of third party candidate votes in Virginia (52,000), Ohio (77,000), and Florida (60,000) had been cast for Romney, we would have a different President inaugurated on January 20, 2013. The election was lost by 189,000 votes in just three states that could have been won. That’s a mere 0.001% of the 126.2 million votes cast in the election. We are not the enemy. Our candidate wasn’t our enemy. Our platform was not our enemy. Where we fell short of the challenge was helping America understand that the Republican candidate was the conservative choice. Going forward, it is critical that we understand that if a miniscule 0.001% split handed the election to Barack Obama, we must strengthen our party’s conservative brand and educate voters about the catastrophe that will happen to America in future elections if it is further fractured.
Lincoln said that if America ever faltered or failed, it would not be from outside attack, but rather from the inside. Our enemy can only be us, then, if we so choose. From the DNC to local supporters nationwide, Barack Obama was presented as nothing other than a positive, winning candidate. How about the Republican winning candidate? Did we take the same approach in selling our winning candidate to the 189,000 voters that decided this election? Did we reach out to our 80% allies, as Reagan would, and let them know Mitt Romney would the first best choice not only for economic recovery, but also transparency, fiscal accountability, restoration of national pride, and the opportunity for every American to return to a pursuit of happiness? Or, did we let our conservative brand come to mean a candidate that hates the poor, thrives on wealth, limits women’s choices, and is of a different faith? Our winning candidate and fellow conservative American Mitt Romney was the only electable choice that would uphold freedom and the sanctity of We the People in the November election.
Win or Lose, Our Focus Should Never Change.
Lesson two is one that every candidate knows: the day after the election the real work begins. This is probably the hardest-learned lesson for American voters. We (the People) seem to struggle to understand that a democratic republic relies upon active involvement. For most of my lifetime, the approach I have observed when the election is over is that we go back about life without any attention paid to our governance, as if our job is finished that day. American government is not a spectator sport where all we have to do is show up on game day. Irish orator John Philpot Curran said in 1790: "It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance." The time for this generation to learn that lesson (again) is now. Our republic only works properly with active citizen participation. This should be our focus, even if Mitt won the election. We should never change our focus on liberty.
When I first ran for Chair of the Ninth District Republican Party, my campaign slogan was “Freedom, Faith and Family.” These are things that I personally believe set our country (and our conservative Ninth District) apart from the rest of the world, and are the foundational principles upon which our Constitution rests. They are symbiotic and none will exist for long without the others. In all 50 states, there were record turnouts. Americans must not lose sight of the motivations that led them to the polls yesterday. Whether voter motivations are centralized power and socialism, or freedom and faith, only those who remain focused and involved will prevail. Vince Lombardi would tell us winning means, “you’re willing to go longer, work harder, give more than anyone else.” The devotion I read on Election Day was about the children of Israel’s march around the walls of Jericho. We must keep marching around the walls with faith that our persistence and belief will be met with expectation.
Lose the Battle. Don’t Lose the War.
Lesson three is never give up. Shortly after I woke up this morning, my email inbox was overflowing with doomsday articles of despondency and despair, about the end of America and freedom as we know it. That is exactly what the liberal socialist team wants, for us to have a mindset that failure or inexistence are the only options left. One article I read had to be a carbon copy of an article when Bill Clinton won re-election against Robert Dole. In short, the article (then and this morning) states that Republicans are out of touch with Americans and need to abandon the principles of marriage between a man and woman, the sanctity of life, the belief in God, the ideal of being rewarded monetarily for hard work, etc. straight down the line attacking the pillars of the Republican Party platform as un-American. The familiar drumbeat of that article should signal to conservatives that liberals understand the war isn’t over yet. As conservatives, we must get our party equipped. It’s the first shot of the next skirmish.
History has taught us that principled leadership, a positive direction for the future, sticking together and never abandoning the fight ultimately results in success. Newt Gingrich said, “Perseverance is the hard work you do after you get tired of doing the hard work you already did.” It’s time to band together with allies and fight daily for those things we hold dear. It’s time to fire a return volley.
It Ain’t Over ‘til It’s Over
President Obama won re-election 51% to Romney’s 48%. We cannot give up with a 3% loss, a 10% loss, a 15%…. While liberals inside the walls of a 2012 win look down on us, we keep marching around the walls of Jericho in faith. In those laps around the perimeter, we must help the 189,000 understand why we keep saying, “We Believe in America.”
In the words of Winston Churchill, no matter how late, how dark the hour, we must, “Never, never, never give up.” In other words, it ain’t over ‘til it’s over. And, this war is far, far from over; 2014 is just around the corner.
Andrew Turnage is the Chair of the Ninth District Republican Party of Georgia. The ‘Powerful Ninth’ has been dubbed the most conservative, most Republican congressional district in the nation. Republicans in the Ninth elected freshman Doug Collins of Gainesville as one of the newest Congressmen in Washington with 76.2% of the vote, the highest percentage of any U.S. House race in the nation in this election cycle. Data source: Associated Press via Politico.com 2012 General Election map