I read a letter that House Minority Leader Rep. John Boehner sent to House Republicans the day after the election. It made me shake my head. Does Boehner not get it? Republicans lost more seats in the House and Senate because of the very attitude in this letter. Us against them. Even after the election, they can't talk about working together. Some excerpts:
Some of our opponents aren't likely to settle for that. They want us to surrender. They want to see us raise the white flag and concede that our principles of freedom, responsibility, and smaller government no longer speak to the hopes and dreams of American families. They want us to stand aside for the next two years, abandon our principles, and give the new administration and the Democratic leaders of Congress a free pass.
Who are "they"? Because I don't remember hearing anyone ask the Republicans to give the Democrats a free pass, not even the voters who elected Democrats for Republican seats. This election wasn't about getting the Republicans to surrender or concede defeat, it was about doing what was right for the country. A party whose motto is "Country First" should realize that.
America remains a center-right country. Democrats should not make the mistake of viewing Tuesday's results as a repudiation of conservatism or a validation of big government.
Hang on, I have to stop laughing. "America remains a center-right country"? If that were the case, Sen. John McCain and Gov. Sarah Palin would be getting ready to move into the White House, and Boehner and his colleagues wouldn't be the minority. The results of the election were totally a repudiation of conservatism and big government, because that's what the last eight years have been about.
We can rebuild our majority by winning the issues one by one and moving the American people to our side one issue at a time.
Why does it have to be about moving Americans anywhere? Nothing gets done when two groups do nothing but fight against each other. We are the United States of America. Not a conservative America. Not a liberal America. Boehner and the GOP should be more concerned right now with how to move the country forward, by working together with Democrats, than with how to move Americans back to the Republicans' side.
We supported the Petraeus surge, it worked, and now our troops are coming home after victory rather than defeat.
Even Petraeus said he will never use the word "victory" for Iraq. And wasn't this the party that was against a timeline for bringing troops home from Iraq, at least in the coming months? Wasn't the GOP line during the campaign that they don't want their troops to come home in defeat under Obama? Well, Obama was just elected, and now, they are coming home in victory? Boehner needs to get his story straight.
We showed Americans we stand with them.
And Americans politely said, "No thanks," and voted for the Democrats.
Therein lies our opportunity. Rise or fall, Congressional Republicans in the next two years will be judged on our own record, our own vision, and our own agenda – and our willingness to hold Washington Democrats accountable.
Our, our, our. Nothing about "we." Nothing about how we should work with the Democrats to get good legislation passed, bills that sit well with everyone, not just one. No, instead Boehner wants the GOP to focus on their own agenda, and just hold Democrats accountable for mistakes. Don't bother reaching out to make sure there aren't any mistakes.
In Obama's victory speech on Tuesday, he said:
Let us resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long. Let us remember that it was a man from this state who first carried the banner of the Republican Party to the White House – a party founded on the values of self-reliance, individual liberty, and national unity. Those are values we all share, and while the Democratic Party has won a great victory tonight, we do so with a measure of humility and determination to heal the divides that have held back our progress. As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, “We are not enemies, but friends…though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection.” And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn – I may not have won your vote, but I hear your voices, I need your help, and I will be your President too.
It would have been nice if the letter Boehner wrote the day after the election would have contained a little humility as well and less of a determination to continue the divides in our government.