The Wisdom To Know The Difference

Today’s Courier Herald Column:

For those of us with Republican leanings, Tuesday was a long night.  The vote count didn’t take as long as most of us expected.  There are no hanging chads and no demands for a recount.  While the popular vote was close, the electoral vote is the only one that matters under our constitution.  The results were decisive and final.

I spent election night providing commentary for Atlanta’s NBC affiliate, WXIA-11Alive, which wrapped up just before midnight.  I had a traffic free drive at the late hour up to my home in Marietta where I then wrote my Wednesday column and spent another hour winding down the day’s adrenaline.  Bedtime was about 3am.

My alarm went off at 5.  Breakfast was an 8:00am meeting in Perry.  Like most of us, there was little excuse not to dive back into the normal routine as if the election did not happen.  On paper, it is almost like it didn’t.  The President keeps the White House.  The Democrats keep the Senate.  Republicans remain in control of the house.  After four years, this was a 4 billion dollar exercise in wash, rinse, repeat.

Wednesday night was much different.  I arrived home just after six from my day in Perry.  I ordered Chinese takeout, signifying that life really had returned to normal.  Then I was in bed by 8pm.  There’s nothing normal about that.  But, most importantly, I slept well.

The sleep wasn’t just because of exhaustion, but that was certainly a contributor to the early snooze time.  But at the end of the day, there is acceptance of where we are.  We ran an election.  This is a uniquely American process.  My team lost.  We’ll have more elections in two years and a Presidential one in four.  In the meantime, this election is over.  The next one has yet to begin.  There is time for a deep breath and a good night’s sleep.

I noticed a lot of my Republican friends working their way through the journey to acceptance on Facebook Wednesday and Thursday.  I decided in my usual tone to post “this is another day that the Lord has made, so suck it up and be glad in it.”  I don’t think I lost any Facebook friends over that one.

Perhaps a more serious and poignant post was made by a couple of my friends – the Serenity Prayer.  “Lord grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.”

The first part of this prayer is fairly easy.  This election will not be changed.  It is over.  There is nothing to be gained by looking backwards in grief, agony, anger, or any other negative emotion.  It is time to look forward.  It is time to put thought, word, and deed into positive action to change the things that still can be changed.  Tuesday’s election is now forever not one of those.

The remainder of this prayer is the part that Republicans will struggle with privately and publicly.  Figuring out what to change will not be a pleasant process.  Understanding what can and can’t be changed will remain equally difficult for some.

The age old argument between the priorities of fiscal conservatives, social conservatives, and national defense hawks will be stepped up a notch.  It is already under way.  Some Republicans want to cleanse the party of those that don’t agree with them.  For those that wish to take this approach, a simple math lesson is in order.

48%, less any number of people that you cleanse, does not get you closer to 50%.

Republicans will need to look at message.  We will need to look at strategy.  We will need to be honest with ourselves about our policies with respect to the demographics of America’s population.  And we will have to find a balance between standing our ground and getting things accomplished.

These are tough questions that do not offer easy answers.  At this stage, however, Republicans should just start with the wisdom that shrinking the party in an exercise of purity is not a path that leads to larger numbers of the total vote.


  1. Raleigh says:

    48%, less any number of people that you cleanse, does not get you closer to 50% is very very true but if you change anything you will lose some of that 48% anyway. The trick is to gain more from the other 52% than you lose from your 48% when you do make those changes. With that in mind the question is simple. What are you willing to give up in order to gain what you want?

    • kyleinatl says:

      That’s presupposing that you’ll still have 48% come 2016…thus the problem with having an older base, eventually they’re not all able to come to the polls anymore.

      • Raleigh says:

        I’m part of that older base. Thanks for reminding me (just kidding). It is still the same question.

        What are you willing to give up in order to gain what you want?

        • kyleinatl says:

          Ha, sorry…I’m no Republican, but if I had to guess? Realize that the social policies of the 50’s just aren’t going to cut it in 21st century America, instead focus on fiscal issues and individual responsibility, but sell it in a way that doesn’t make it look like you’re accusing people of being “moochers”.

          Be the party that says, we’re staying out of your private lives AND your wallets, and that’d be a good start. So what I guess I’m saying is…lose the evangelicals, and you might get a bigger percentage of the single female vote.

          There’s probably a good way to address the Latino vote too, cause, yeah…that’s just getting bigger and bigger.

          • seenbetrdayz says:

            I’d say family values issues are appreciated among Latinos, but a critical observation is that you simply don’t see too many Latinos running to government to enforce particular family values. Most Hispanic Catholics don’t approve of abortion, but there’s rarely any great crusade to D.C. to have it banned. Southern evangelicals are wearing social issues out, politically. Maybe we would do better to confront these family values issues within, well, the family (?), rather than Congress.

            It’s more of a ‘live and let live’ lifestyle that the Republican party would do well to adopt. You can still speak your mind on the issues. Try to influence people. Educate people. Set examples.

            Just please, stop holding your breath waiting for politicians to make the world a better place.

  2. D_in_ATL says:

    “48%, less any number of people that you cleanse, does not get you closer to 50%.”

    Holding onto the tea-partiers, birthers, wall-builders etc etc is like holding onto a cancerous tumor. Instead of providing them a home the GOP should have thrown them out. You welcomed them while you threw out the libertarians and real conservatives. Reading this column I see nothing to convince me that there will be any change in policy but just a “need to look at the message”. So more brown people shaking hands with the candidate? Really? Pretty amazing that after having your rear ends handed to you that the bubble you’re in remains intact…I guess that’s where you’ll stay.

    • seenbetrdayz says:

      It’s a typical charlie message of how we need great reflection and then never actually seeing it happen.

      I predict a more ‘moderate’ candidate to come in 2016 (if it is possible to find anyone more moderate than Romney). I don’t think a lack of moderation was the problem. People didn’t *not* vote for Romney because he was ‘too far right’.

      Right now the GOP reminds me of someone who is taking apart a non-working refrigerator to see how to fix it, without checking to see if it was even plugged in.

        • John Konop says:


          I think you are right, but the GOP will put a minority and or woman on the ticket thinking that will help them with minorities and women over policy. The GOP will be fooled by mid term election numbers the next cycle ie base verse base election between parties. You will see the talking heads claiming a comeback by going hard right and than in 16 it will look worse than this time. As I said, if the Dems can put up Hillary it will get ugly for the GOP, so bad they will loose the House. Because the nasty side of the party will make it personal against Hillary over issues, and it will get ugly for the GOP ie nasty comments like sluts, rape…….The GOP will think a Palin type candidates that are women and or minority can spew that stuff or turn a blind eye to talking heads, and it will work………

  3. SallyForth says:

    Charlie, it’s large. We’re going to be cussing and discussing the whole situation for a while to come. Right now, I feel like a trip to Colorado to find some snow skiing and heeding that bard Bob Dylan: Everybody must get stoned!

    It’s interesting that, unlike when we were younger and had to use fake ID’s to get into night clubs and buy booze or tobacco, kids young and old will now be able to smoke the good weed in Colorado and Washington state. ‘Wonder if this means the GOP now has to go for legalizing Mary Jane.

  4. xdog says:

    You confuse me. Isn’t it you warriors of the right who think the Beatles were the start of all that’s wrong with America today?

    Anyway, I was there from Love Me Do to Abbey Road and your threat doesn’t scare me. Lucy isn’t my favorite but she’ll do for a start. Bring it on I say. Let’s make commercial radio safe again.

  5. Scott65 says:

    when the masses in the republican party realize that what they hear from talk radio is NOT conservatism, and that said talk radio has pretty much been untruthful with the crap they spew…then the party will be well on its way. Its the Ann Coulters, Sean Hannitys, and Laura Ingram types that people now associate with republicans

  6. Rick Day says:

    I love this message. Hear it every time the GOP gets their duffs handed to them. Fills me with hope of a better tomorrow, mutually solving the country’s issues.
    Then…two weeks later…

  7. Rick Day says:

    PS: I would not blame anyone one bit if they moved to the new United States of Whiteness (Aka West Virginia, Alabama and Mississippi) because y’all got about *checks watch* 8 years before you become a footnote in the Great Melding Pot.

    DISCLAIMER: I did, indeed, vote for Gary Johnson.

  8. Dave Bearse says:

    “48%, less any number of people that you cleanse, does not get you closer to 50%”

    They’re operating under the mistaken idea that losses can be made up in enthusiasm and turnout.

  9. ieee says:

    The Republican party is never going to change enough to get my vote and I suspect enough others either. It will be good when they are completely gone.

    I see the Republicans as a bunch of people who can’t mind their own business and never get tired of telling other people what they must do. As someone who has been listed on a nanny big government SEX OFFENDER Registry for well over a decade, I am beyond done with those types of people.

    Drugs should be not illegal. You are doing nothing but making the problem worse anyway. If you want to “help” those people, stop putting them in jail. And if you really want to “protect” Americans from themselves, make potato chips illegal.

    Same with prostitution. Why do you think it is your business what two adults do between themselves? Mind your own business. Stop trying to push your dubious morals off onto other people. Go cheat on your wives or something.

    But the Republicans will never be able to mind their own business and that is why they will disappear. Since I am listed on a Registry, I will continue to go out of my way to do things that the people who support that would supposedly like for me not to do. But don’t worry, it will be legal because I’m not going to give you any opportunities to make me part of your prison industry. I’m going to imprison you instead.

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