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.