Yes, we lost the election. But in a year when all currents were running against Republicans and our campaign was lackluster and erratic,received only 3.1 points more than Al Gore in 2000 and only 4.6 points more than John Kerry in 2004. The Democratic victory becomes durable only if Republicans make it so with the wrong moves.
Losing the election has led to a debate about whether theshould return to its Reaganite tradition or embark on a new reform course. This pundit-driven shoutfest presents a sterile, unnecessary choice. The party should embrace both tradition and reform; grass-roots Republicans want to apply timeless conservative principles to the new circumstances facing America.
In the coming year, we will be defined more by what we oppose than what we are for; the president-elect and the Democrats in Congress will control the agenda. We must pick fights carefully and center them around principle. The goal is to have the sharp differences that emerge make the GOP look like the more reasonable, hopeful and inviting party—which is easier said than done. A road map:
1. Avoid mindless opposition. We should support President Obama when he is right (Afghanistan), persuade him when his mind appears open (trade) and oppose him when he is wrong (taxes). It is the Republican Party's job to hold him accountable on the merits only.
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