By VERNON ROBISON
Fortunately, the 2022 elections are now behind us and it has become quiet for a while. The big red wave that was expected to wash across the country never came. Given the unpopularity of the current president, the struggling economy, the sting of high inflation rates and only a long-standing trend favoring the minority party in midterm elections, the Republicans really should have prevailed nationwide. But they didn’t. Instead, the election turned out to be a disappointment for the GOP. Actually, it wasn’t just a disappointment, it was an outright loss! The Republican Party lost the 2022 election.
Fortunately, with every loss there is an opportunity for a lesson. So what are the lessons of 2022? No doubt pundits and political analysts will be talking about that for decades to come. Granted, I’m not much of an expert. But I’ve been following Republican politics for a long time. Here are five lessons I hope the Republican Party will learn from this low point in its history.
1. The majority is in the middle
The vast majority of the American people are moderates: moderate Democrats, moderate Republicans, and moderate independents. Success will come from candidates from both parties who can speak to that moderately moderate majority.
Both sides have struggled to focus on the middle in recent years. Instead, candidates go first to the extreme wings of their party. Then they assume that the middle will follow them for lack of a better option. This election has proven the assumption wrong.
If the GOP stops courting the vast middle majority of both parties, it will do so at its peril.
2. It’s not always the economy, stupid!
With the US economy faltering and inflation gnawing away at US consumers, this election should have been ahead for the Republican candidates. Or so they thought. But it turned out that the center of the electorate had other concerns besides those of the rotten economy.
For example, the 2022 elections showed that the practice of “election denial” is a political deadly trap. The middle majority of the US apparently has little tolerance for it. In battleground states, nearly every candidate who ran for election oversight and certification positions lost when they challenged the results of the 2020 election on a platform. So is the Nevada Secretary of State race, where Democrat Cisco Aguilar neatly defeated Republican Jim Marchant, a Trump-backed election denier. Similar results occurred in Arizona, Minnesota, Michigan, Alabama and more.
Plus, here’s a little hint: If you tell people that elections are corrupt and invalid, people often end up getting frustrated and just not showing up at the polls. That could be one reason for the generally lackluster turnout of Republican voters this year.
Another major issue that hurt Republicans was the highly controversial issue of abortion. In keeping with my intentions here, I will set aside the moral and emotional aspects of this issue and instead focus purely on the politics of it. The Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade last summer was not so much about banning abortions as about returning such decisions to the states where a majority of justices felt they belonged. Taking away federal authority is a decidedly conservative ideal. But as soon as the decision was made, Republicans in Congress were already discussing legislation to ban abortion nationwide. Big political mistake! Such talk was not only contrary to the party platform, it was also a gross miscalculation of what the middle majority wants. Again, the GOP left the middle behind and thus paid the price.
3. A new campaign era has arrived
Universal mail-in ballots have come along with the COVID-19 pandemic. And with that comes a turnaround in politics and campaigning.
The Democrats seemed to have understood this change immediately and instinctively. They quickly changed their tactics to fit the new reality; almost like they planned it in advance. They encouraged party members to send in the ballots early or avoid the queues and deliver the ballots to polling stations on Election Day. No doubt, where it was legal, there was also a lot of harvesting.
On the other hand, the Republicans – especially in Nevada – carried on as if nothing had changed.
Encouraging voters to vote only in person can be a nice ideal to uphold if there is no other way. But when mailing is available, in-person voting is much less convenient. And it could—and did—result in lower turnout for Republicans.
If mail-in voting is to become the norm (as it appears to be), this could be a good opportunity for the GOP to move with the times.
4. Clean the inner container
This one is really more specific to the Republican party in Nevada. But it can also apply nationally.
The Nevada State GOP leadership is a mess and needs to be replaced. Republican state chairman Michael McDonald and his board of directors have been allowed to fail for the past 12 years — election after election. Why is this allowed to continue?
McDonald accomplished very little in raising funds for GOP candidates or building a party machine to register Republican voters. Both matters are primary responsibilities of a state president. Meanwhile, he has sown seeds of strife and division within the state party.
The Republican Party in Nevada is in turmoil. Mr. McDonald has to go. And now it’s time!
5. Cut off the ball and chain
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the GOP must learn that Donald Trump is NOT a shining star that the Republican Party should hitch a ride on. He has not led the party to a majority, and he will not lead it to the White House in two years.
If the GOP learns anything from its pathetic performance in the 2022 election, I hope it will be that Donald Trump is and will remain a LOSER among the vast middle majority in this country.
Trump must be cut off from the party. Republican leaders across the country should distance themselves from him.
The party should avoid Trump-backed candidates like the plague. That’s because they tend to lose. In fact, they went down en masse and in flames in this election!
Election 2022 should portend danger and peril for the Republicans. The party must take its lessons to heart. If the GOP decides to stay the course, if it ignores its more moderate members and stands aloof from the rest of the American middle-majority, if it nominates Donald Trump again as its 2024 presidential candidate — I think it will spell disaster for the Republican party.