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July 23, 2010

If the GOP wants to win in November, it needs to be more than simply not-Obama

Does the national GOP hoping to passively surf the growing wave of anti-Obama sentiment all the way to control of Congress?

In NRO on July 21, Victor Davis Hanson argues that the GOP – as a party and as individual candidates – needs to be specific about how it would govern differently than Obama and the current Congress are governing:

Republican politicos will quite accurately lecture that presenting such detailed alternative plans would be foolhardy: The key now is simply to be against what an unpopular Obama is for. I accept that offering detailed solutions might well turn the public as much against the proposed medicine as against the original malignant disease.

Yet at some point, blanket Obama-bashing without a comprehensive alternative will turn stale. Critics of Obama — if they are to be taken seriously — will have to be about more than not being Obama. Instead, conservatives must identify exactly how to undo the Obama agenda — and do so in a way that does not earn them the disdain that the Republican Congress earned between 2001 and 2006, and the Republican administration between 2005 and 2009.

We need some notion of a contracted agenda, so that conservative voters can hold conservative politicians to account in this age of anti-incumbency. Voters wanted closed borders, balanced budgets, ethical members of Congress, and less government between 2001 and 2006. They believed that all of that had been promised — and then were sorely disappointed.

In short, conservative voters want to see something specific — as much to keep their own honest as to defeat the other.

The Tea Party movement’s very existence shows that the conservative base is restless.  Conservatives are in no mood to be used by the GOP elites to effect a return to We May Be Bad But We’re Not As Bad As The Democrats.  The elites will ignore this at their peril.

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