Erick Erickson, bestselling conservative author and CNN commentator, wants you to know today that he’s not blaming anyone specifically for the Republican Party’s failure to turn a historic election into a super-dee-duper historic election. No, sirree. He’s not blaming anyone in particular at all, and he’s not encouraging you to blame anyone either. Nope. He’s just standing next to a pile of pitchforks and torches that completely by random, blind coincidence happen to be in close proximity to the directions to Michael Steele’s office at the RNC. And what you think is a wink and a nod? It’s just some dust in his eye and a slight nervous tic. That’s all.
Look, I happen to agree with Erickson that the RNC screwed the pooch in a lot of place on Election Day. If Steele had mobilized even a modestly-concentrated GOTV effort in Washington and Colorado (and probably even Nevada), the results would almost certainly have been different (via @PatrickRuffini). If he had not left the heavy lifting to the Republican Governors’ Association, which moves money more than people, then the results would almost certainly had been different. If he unleashed his newly-developed psychic powers on the electorate, things would have absolutely been different. If he had singlehandedly saved the West Coast from a rampaging 50-foot tall lizard with atomic fire breath, things would have undoubtedly been different.
Get the point here or do I have to break out a hackneyed saying about candy and nuts?
Look, I understand the impulse to pillory someone after this election. Conservatism was on the cusp of doing something that hadn’t been done in the lifetimes of most of the people on this planet. Republicans could have taken the House and the Senate, cleanly two years out from being on the bad end of a veto-proof majority. Sure, it would have taken almost a perfect alignment of circumstances to get clean majorities in both houses. The GOP and Tea Parties would have had to play the perfect game plus we would have had to catch a couple lucky breaks.
But it was within reach, which makes us all the more frustrated that we didn’t get it. We could have pulled off an upset that historians would have written about for decades. A century from now, Michael Barone’s preserved head in a jar could tell Morbo about how the grassroots rose up and turned the entire political course of their country in one day.
But that didn’t happen and it hurts. I understand. I’m not happy about it either. The GOP did a lot of pooch-screwing. Melissa Clouther has done the best job of detailing all the mistakes the Republican alphabet soup groups made that turned what could have been a once in a century victory into a once in half a century victory. I read it and got ticked off at how many stupid mistakes the Republican Party structure made.
So let me stipulate this, for those folks who might later want to beat me about the head and shoulders for criticizing Erick or Dan Riehl or anyone else who wants to take a brickbat to the party establishment for blowing a once-in-a-lifetime deal: the establishment made a ton of mistakes, and those mistakes almost certainly cost us our dream win. They should be run out of town on a rail.
Okay? Blame laid. So now what? We can sit at our computers, read Melissa’s post and Erick’s post, and seethe until the steam rises to an intolerable level and we finally cry out for blood, but what good will that do us? We know what the problems are. It does us no good to whip up a mob to burn the castle down. See, that castle actually belongs to us and we’re going to have to clean up the wreckage we cause in our righteous fury. We simply don’t have time for ridiculous posturing and peacockish displays of conservative plumage. We can count coup later. We’re still in the middle of a fight right now and we need everyone at the guns.
Let’s keep a few things in mind. Democrats will run their lame duck program just as soon as they can get back to Washington. They’re going to do everything in their power, play every dirty trick they know, to stop us from rolling back their totalitarian program. We have a war-fighting policy to get right before our luck runs out and an Islamists blows up a bomb in one of our cities. Government spending is about to blow a hole in everyone’s wallet that we may not be able to patch. Before we know it, 2012 will be upon us and we had damned-well better be ready to win the fights we lost last week, plus a few more. Our goals are clear. Michael Steele can come along with us if he likes. If he doesn’t we’ll get it done without him. We have enough clever people among us to work around and through him, to subvert his power and co-opt his structure.
But we most definitely do not have time to stop and deliver comeuppance. We’ll have time for that after the work is done.