George, there's a difference between winning elections and governing effectively. That's the issue. Most of the time, unless the issue is one where bipartisan consensus exists - and those issues are far fewer and far between then they've ever been before - there's going to have to be some kind of compromise to get anything enacted.
What drives voters to the polls on specific policy issues is the belief that the candidate understands what the average person is going through, has a plan to solve the issue, and that the plan has a legitimate chance of being enacted. But that's only for specific policy issues where people recognize there is a problem that needs to be solved, such as transportation or energy.
For more amorphous issues like education, health care and all of the social issues, you're never going to be able to come up with a plan to fix everything that has a legitimate chance of being enacted. So there, your goal as a candidate is to convince and reassure voters that you have the good judgment and understanding to make the right decision on the issue when it comes time to vote.
And yes, I have to say that if the other guy wants to spend $700 billion and you want him to spend nothing, getting him to only spend $350 billion is a victory. Next time, you have to get it down even more. In the current environment, with Democrats controlling everything, getting that down to $350 billion is a major victory, because the Dems have the votes to get their full $700 billion without our approval and despite our opposition. Again, we can't let the perfect be the enemy of the good. It's better to slow them down if we can't stop them completely. I don't believe the system is corrupted beyond repair, but I understand the frustration - we all are frustrated.
George, the football analogy doesn't work. This isn't just a game. There's no clock, the rules change on a daily basis, and there are thousands of different things that can be called a "victory." As I said before, campaigns are campaigns and governing is governing. You can't have one without the other, but what wins campaigns doesn't always make for good governance.
You can't implement conservative principles in government if you can't get elected. And, as you've noted, only one president and one Congress has managed to get elected in the last century espousing those principles. If that's the case, what you should be arguing is that Republicans should campaign as moderates and govern as conservatives. But I'm pretty sure that's not what you're advocating.
Personally, I wish people would campaign and govern the same way - I don't want to have a candidate run as a moderate and then juke to the left when he's elected. And I don't want a candidate to run from the middle and then juke right, either. Liberals should run as liberals, conservatives as conservatives and moderates as moderates. One of the reasons I believe that many are cynical about politics is the disconnect between what candidates say and what elected officials do. That's one of the biggest areas we need reform, frankly, and that is only going to happen when our candidates have the courage to be honest and aren't punished when they are.
"George, the Republican party isn't strictly a conservative party."
Yes, that's the problem as I've said. Voters get to choose between the crazy party and the stupid party.
"The Democratic party isn't strictly a liberal party."
Then I cannot imagine what your definitiion of "liberal" could be. Some Democrats may not be liberal but they may as well be since they vote that way and the result is the same. As mentioned earlier, 89% of Democrats approve of the President's national suicide policies. Either they are liberal or too stupid to walk about without supervision.
"Our party is a center-right party, and instead of fighting that, we should embrace it..."
This is an example of "gimblebabble." We should "embrace it"? What does that mean?
"...because there are honestly more center-right people in this country than there are center-left. But if we kick out the center, we're left with a rump that can't win elections and can't influence policy."
Good grief... You already have "a rump that can't win elections and can't influence policy." Your strategy and approach has already failed. Republicans aren't left with only the choice of "embracing" the center or "kicking it out". Instead, the Republican Party might "embrace" conservativism and work to attract the muddled middle. Does that require too much effort for consideration?
"You can't pin the loss of the last election solely on McCain."
I didn't. I wrote, "Republicans, if they'd only had the stones for it, could have nailed Democrats to the front door of Freddie Mac..." Even as inept and ineffective as McCain was, he was belatedly right on taxes, energy and terrorism. Republicans could have swept the elections if they could have and would have gone after the Democrats for the political scandal that is instead known as the "financial crisis". Congress is corrupted beyond redemption. Democrats and Republicans divide the spoils. So, too many Republicans were too busy looting for themselves to interfer with Democrats looting at Freddie and Fannie. Too many Republicans were acting as you would have them act; cutting deals, horse trading, compromising and looking the other way. When the music stopped, too many Republicans hid under their desks instead of exposing the Democrats and standing up for the people of this country.
"The entire environment was bad, both economic and political, and there was significant voter fatigue from having Republicans in control for so long."
Fiddlesticks. There was a significant lack of action on a conservative agenda and a significant lack of agressive promotion of conservative principles, a significant amount of complacency about reforming the Congress and a significant sense of urgency about looting as much as possible before the next election.
"Sometimes losing clenses the political pallet and lets us rebuild stronger than we were before. That's what I'm hoping is the result of 2008."
Gimblebabble. There is no substitute for victory. Let's see... After FDR's election, Republicans failed to win a majority in the House for 45 years. Think the political pallet will be cleansed by 2053?
"I'm not advocating hypocrisy at all. I just wish that we, as an electorate, wouldn't force our candidates to become hypocites in order to get elected."
No one is forced to become a hipocrite. That's a choice.
"But when we base most of our decisions about their stances on issues that they will rarely, if ever, have to decide in office, what do we expect?"
Honesty. Many or our local politicians are going to run for state offices, then federal positions and possibly the presidency. Bob McDonnel will run for the Senate when he's term limited, that's how it works.
How does Bob McDonnell's stance on abortion matter when he's trying to handle budget deficits? Why spend so much time on it?"
I'm not spending any time on McDonnell's stance on abortion. Democrats, not Republicans and liberals, not conservatives are obsessed with abortion. Abortion is the law of the land accoriding to the "emanations and penumbras" of the Supreme Court and that's that. However, Democrats are not content with that outcome and are constantly working to expand abortion however and wherever possible. It's bad enough that Americans have lost their right to decide political issues like abortion, they must also give up their daughters to state control and pay to abort babies both in the United States and around the world. What's the right-center position on spending $309,000,000 of federal taxpayer money on abortions in the U.S. and $400,000,000 on abortion overseas? Is that a Supreme Court mandade? 'Cause I can't find that provision in the Constitution.
"The only reason I call myself a moderate is because I don't want to be accused of being a 'traitor' to conservatism when I don't follow blindly all of the tenets that have been erected over the years. Frankly, I wish we would stop with the labeling..."
Why? I've always taken pride in being a member of the Right Wing Conspiracy. Meaning no personal offense, it seems to me people who complain about labels are the same ones who are just a bit ashamed of the labels they choose to wear. Here's a new label; Constitutionalist. I now declare myself to be a "Constitutionalist" and I vow to support any party and any candidate that promises to restore it. Will you join me?
"...at all and look to the candidate, his record, and his ideas first, and worry about labels later. In my opinion, most good policy has conservative underpinnings, and I can readily see those when I read the policy - I don't need lip service about how conservative someone is. I want to see that through their action, not speeches."
Well, since I believe in the principles of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States (absent imaginary penumbras, emanations and festeriums), I'm a Right Wing Extremist as well as a Constitutionalist.