POLITICS: The (Grand Old) Party Ain’t Over

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Reports of the demise of the Republican Party are greatly exaggerated.

By Rob Schwarzwalder, a Senior Contributor, The Stream, January 8, 2018

Rob SchwarzwalderThe Democratic Party is feeling gleeful. “Some Democrats see a 40-seat pickup in the House” in 2018, reports CNN. “Democrats predict a 2018 wave election,” cries the Miami Herald.

Really? Have they been inhaling helium or taking No-Doze with their Pepsi?

Democrats’ Gains

Virginia’s November election provided statewide gains for the Democrats. Doug Jones defeated Roy Moore. And a Democrat took the governorship of New Jersey.

And … that’s about it. As to Virginia, Hillary Clinton carried the state by over five percent in 2016. Virtually the entire state is red except for the sea of big government profiteers in suburban DC. That concentration of liberal voters in pricey enclaves has pushed the state into the “lean blue” category.

As to Doug Jones, he did not win. Roy Moore lost. The old truism, “Wait ‘til next time,” is pretty apt for Alabama.

And New Jersey: This uber-blue state elected Chris Christie after years of Democratic scandal and mismanagement. And then came “Bridgegate” and a state weary of Christie’s ambition.

There have been four (yes, four) Democratic “seat flips” in state legislatures since the 2016 Republican sweep. This is not exactly a trend, especially given that in 2016, Republicans picked up nearly 50 state legislative seats.

The Trend

Overall, “Republicans control 67 chambers, while Democrats are the majority in 32 chambers” (Nebraska has a non-partisan, unicameral legislature). In total, there are 4,144 Republicans in the nation’s state legislatures, and 3,122 Democrats.

Put this in context: “The Democratic Party suffered huge losses at every level during Obama’s West Wing tenure,” explained Fox News last month. “The grand total: a net loss of 1,042 state and federal Democratic posts, including congressional and state legislative seats, governorships and the presidency.”

Over the past decade, millions of Americans have seen through the smoke-and-mirrors of the Left.

When more than 50 million voters in 31 of the 33 states that enacted laws on same-sex marriage were told by the Left’s last refuge for political sleight-of-hand, the Supreme Court, that their voice didn’t matter, those voters got angry.

When people are told they are bigoted and hateful just for believing marriage is what it’s always been, they get disgusted.

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When the Left touts abortion-on-demand as a moral good that should be subsidized by the taxpayers, voters grind their teeth.

When the Supreme Court declares the Obama health care mandate — buy health insurance or the federal government will fine you — is a “tax,” citizens are not so stupid as to not understand fascism when they see it.

When “red lines” are crossed with no penalty and our President is caught telling the Russian strongman that he would get more “favorable terms” after his election, patriots cringe. And when America’s weakness creates vacuums the world’s despots are only too eager to fulfill, the voters become troubled — and fed-up.

Of course, not all voters feel this way. But enough have, consistently and for many years, that the swing toward the GOP has been and remains potent.

America’s Electorate

With all this said, the respected Pew Research firm has shown that the demographics of America’s electorate are changing. However, it remains to be seen how these changes in the racial, ethnic and age components will affect future elections.

This argument bucks some of the conventional wisdom (for example, younger people vote more Democratic than older whites). But I stand by it: People don’t stay the same age forever. Once they own homes and have kids, they tend to like the idea of safe neighborhoods and economic growth and other, traditionally conservative attitudes toward life and politics.

As to race and ethnicity, there has never been a riper time for the GOP to talk with and listen to the concerns of minority voters. We need to make our case persuasively — and that means repetitively and clearly. We cannot assume that our core convictions about faith, family, work and human dignity are understood.

Simple Proclamations

People think in broad terms. It is the big brush stroke that controls the canvas. Republicans tend to paint with smaller brushes, giving a lot of detail when most people just look at bold colors.

Ronald Reagan understood this. He spoke in simple, declarative propositions. He did so over and over again, giving the same speech to different audiences in state after state. His radio messages are models of big ideas captured in bite-size sentences. He was not out to impress the intelligentsia but to convince ordinary Americans.

He was mocked for this by the elites. “An amiable dunce” he was called by one.

Yeah. Well, he also won two terms as governor of the nation’s largest state and two landslides in his races for the presidency. And, in the process, changed modern history.

It’s true that conservatives have a lot against them in the communication wars. The liberal media, the education establishment, people distracted by the common events of busy lives.

But simple proclamations that capture great truths, spoken earnestly and repeatedly by credible spokespeople, can eventually penetrate the fog of modern life. Minds can be changed and, with them, so can votes.

Reports of the demise of the Republican Party are greatly exaggerated. But conservatives have much work to do. And no time to lose.


Rob Schwarzwalder is a Senior Contributor at The Stream and a Senior Lecturer at Regent University. Raised in Washington State, he lived with his family in the suburban D.C. area for nearly 25 years until coming to Regent in the summer of 2016. Rob was Senior Vice-President at the Family Research Council for more than seven years, and previously served as chief-of-staff to two Members of Congress. He was also a communications and media aide to a U.S. Senator and senior speechwriter for the Hon. Tommy Thompson, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. For several years, he was Director of Communications at the National Association of Manufacturers. While on Capitol Hill, he served on the staffs of members of both Senate and House Armed Services Committees and the Senate Committee with oversight of federal healthcare policy.

Rob is focused on the intersection of theology, culture and politics. His background in public policy has been informed by his service on Capitol Hill, the private sector and various Christian ministries. His op-eds have been published in numerous national publications, ranging from TIME and U.S. News and World Report to Christianity Today, The Federalist and The Public Discourse, as well as scores of newspapers and opinion journals. He has been interviewed on National Public Radio, Fox News, and other leading television and radio programs. Rob’s scholarly publications include studies of such issues as fatherlessness, pornography, federal economic policy and national security.

Rob has done graduate work at George Washington University and holds an M.A. in theology from Western Seminary (Portland, Ore.) and an undergraduate degree from Biola University. He and his wife of 35 years, Valerie, make their home in Virginia Beach and have three children.