J. KARL MILLER: GOP must overcome its internal rifts

Wednesday, November 14, 2012 | 6:00 a.m. CST; updated 8:18 p.m. CST, Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Election 2012 is history — the electorate has spoken and President Barack Obama will occupy the White House for four more years. He is entitled to a victory lap, but let us hope that it is short — there is serious work to be done.

The president has proved that he can win — he is a formidable campaigner and his forays are well-planned and equally well-orchestrated. He has demonstrated also that he understands both the electorate and the playing field — he knows the where and sum of his strengths and has capitalized on fortifying that voter bloc in two elections.

Of course I am not overjoyed at the decision; however, as a Marine for nearly half my life, I learned to read the "from" line on message orders. He carried the majority vote as well as a convincing win in the Electoral College. Consequently, this is not a time to complain nor to seek a scapegoat as in "who shot John" — instead, it is time to move on and make it work.

Now, the president must energize his exceptional skills as a campaigner and demographic organizer to work as a leader — he must now demonstrate that he is ready to govern. This is a side of our commander-in-chief that he has yet to substantiate — the "I won, you lost" arrogance of his first term is not a viable option. The coin that is gridlock has two sides.

With a second win under his belt, he can afford to show some humility and seek genuine compromise with the losing minority — its membership includes nearly half of the electorate. I sincerely hope that, since he no longer has any reason to campaign or do photo ops, he will seek solutions rather than confrontation. There has been enough of that.

If I could offer the president a bit of advice, I would point out that both Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton faced opposition and divided Congresses. Somehow, they were able bridge the aisles and govern all of the people — he would do well to copy them.

As for we Republicans who came up short again, it is distressing to see the finger pointing, blame game — we tend to convene a circular firing squad at these times. Once again, the culprit is the Republican establishment, moderate "Rockefeller Republicans," ignoring the fact that 2 million fewer voters turned out for Romney than had voted for McCain.

There is plenty of blame to share. For example, there is the "tea party," which orchestrated a sensible and necessary message calling for spending cuts and fiscal responsibility. Sadly, the movement confused its popularity on those issues as a mandate to determine which candidate is a "real conservative" and act also as the arbiter of social issues.

The resultant and totally unnecessary division between party "Republicans" and "Conservatives" alienated Independents along with costing five winnable Senate seats in the last two years — Indiana and Missouri in 2012. Removing a sure winner because he or she does not fit a profile is as silly as a football coach taking a three-point field goal off the scoreboard in hopes of scoring a touchdown.

I realize that I am again daring to tread on hallowed ground to some; however, I believe that much of the talk show rhetoric from the Limbaughs and Hannitys has outlived its usefulness and is counterproductive. Preaching to the choir in a manner that turns off potential supporters is hardly profitable.

Next, former President Reagan commands an image that both conservative and "establishment" Republicans try to commandeer. The Ronald Reagan I remember taught that no Republican was to speak ill of a fellow Republican and that a Republican who supported the party 80 percent of the time was worth saving. Both factions seem to have forgotten this philosophy.

We also shot ourselves in the foot regarding immigration policy. The only reasonable solution to this dilemma was advanced by former President George W. Bush, who advocated a guest-worker program, much like the former Bracero seasonal-worker program which was scrapped at the behest of the labor unions. Short-sighted, militant Republicans derided it as "amnesty," and the Democrats gleefully watched us go over the cliff.

Changes in today's voting demographics are primarily the result of the 18- to 28-year-old and Hispanic vote. In order to compete, the Republican Party must respond accordingly — to do otherwise will cede the presidency to the Democrats.

Finally, Republicans and Democrats must come to grips with reality as there is plenty of blame to share. We Republicans can continue to carp about media bias, but it is what it is. Complaining won't make a difference.

The president has also lost an ace in the hole — the ability to blame his troubles on a presidential "inheritance." The economy and all of the trimmings are now his responsibility. We are waiting to be led Mr. President — failure is not an option.

J. Karl Miller retired as a colonel in the Marine Corps. He is a Columbia resident and can be reached via email at Questions? Contact Opinion editor Elizabeth Conner.

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Christopher Foote November 14, 2012 | 12:22 p.m.

With respect to Mr. Obama's policies in his first term and compromising with the Republicans, I'll outsource this to the economist, Brad Delong:
"...he pursued Ronald Reagan's (second term) foreign policy, George H.W. Bush's spending policy, Bill Clinton's tax policy, Rick Perry's immigration policy, the Squam Lake Group's financial regulatory policy, John McCain's climate-change policy, George W. Bush's countercyclical fiscal policy, Richard Nixon's environmental policy, and Mitt Romney's health-care policy--and he has appointed a Republican from South Carolina to head the Federal Reserve..."
His lack of bipartisan support for moderate Republican policies, was not due to a lack of leadership, but rather a calculated political strategy by the Republicans to deny him any legislative successes. Only if the Republicans decide that their strategy is a political loser will they change their approach for Obama's second term. Last week's election was a sound defeat for them, so perhaps there is hope. (Note they have lost 5 out of the last 6 Presidential popular votes, they lost ground in the Senate, and though they still hold the house it is only due to extremely friendly redistricting as the aggregate votes for all house seats favor the Democrats by approximately 500,000 votes).

(Report Comment)
Skip Yates November 14, 2012 | 5:37 p.m.

Hannity and Limbaugh have lost their usefulness??? Well, does that equally apply to Chris Matthews and Rachael Maddow?

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J Karl Miller November 14, 2012 | 7:08 p.m.

Mr Yates,

Re Chris Matthews and Rachel Maddow--throw in Ed "The Mongo of TV Hosts" Schultz and Lawrence O'Donnell--Of what usefulness do you speak? They are an arm of the Democratic Party for 4 consecutive hours 4 days per week. I tune in occasionally for comic relief.

(Report Comment)
frank christian November 14, 2012 | 8:49 p.m.

Christopher - Brad Delong - "He served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of the United States Department of the Treasury in the Clinton Administration under Lawrence Summers"

"As an official in the Treasury Department in the Clinton administration, he worked on the 1993 budget,"

Not the 1995 Republican legislation that provided the growth and wealth for government and the people that you must always try to cover up in your posts.

Your source, as well as Slate Magazine, seems to have decided that to make one sentence define a conservative term of service and thus use it, to try to make favorable comparison with your progressive, liberal failures, is the only way to minimize those colossal failures. As an insider, can you tell us, is more trivia to be expected?

(Report Comment)
Corey Parks November 14, 2012 | 9:57 p.m.

Never listened to Rush a day in my life and turned off Hannity a year ago after hearing the same stuff from him over and over again on top of the fact that he is always a week late and a dollar short when it comes to breaking stories. Well at least to those that pay attention to the news and listen to other people daily.

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