President Obama's re-election and the Democrats' generally good showing at the polls have caused the GOP a good deal of despair and anguish. But Republicans should take heart that many of their ideas did better than their candidates in Election 2012.
On multiple issues, Republicans have promoted their positions so well over the years that the Democratic Party has shifted to the center in response. Consider Barack Obama's record on taxes and spending. The president signed a 2009 stimulus package that reduced taxes by $288 billion, renewed all President Bush's tax cuts in 2010 totaling at least $615 billion, and approved the Budget Control Act of 2011 which cut spending by $917 billion. Despite the right's refusal to credit Obama for anything, honest conservatives should admit that a GOP president with this resume would rival Ronald Reagan in popularity among Republicans.
Now that the election is over, everyone should be able to admit that the Affordable Care Act was never a government takeover of the health industry. In expanding of private care and saving $1 trillion over 20 years, President Obama and the Democrats fulfilled standard GOP goals. Republicans could have claimed a large share of the credit for this achievement considering that conservatives provided the blueprint for entire plan, had the GOP not ceaselessly opposed the highly-moderate reform package for partisan purposes.
Gun rights are another example. Even when Democrats controlled the White House and Congress in 2009 and 2010, the party passed no gun control measures nor seriously considered any, no doubt well remembering the Republicans' romp in the 1994 midterm elections following passage of a federal assault weapons ban. Even after highly-publicized mass shootings in Arizona, Colorado and Wisconsin, the possibility of additional gun control passing a now-divided Congress is practically nonexistent.
Republicans traditionally promote personal freedom. For that reason, they should applaud Maine, Maryland and Washington for permitting gays and lesbians the right to marry. If more Americans want to strengthen their families in a way that benefits their children and harms no one, the GOP should claim a victory for the traditional values it claims to cherish. Mean-spirited attacks on law-abiding citizens' rights in the name of religion are incompatible with the campaign for limited government. Republicans should renounce the former and embrace the latter.
In conclusion, Republicans still smarting from Gov. Mitt Romney's defeat and losses in Congress can console themselves. In many significant ways, their ideas won the election. The GOP lost in more ways, of course, but the remedy for that should be clear enough. Like the Democratic Party moderated its positions on such issues as taxes, spending, health care and guns, the GOP must abandon its extremism and shift to center on issues like immigration, climate change and abortion in order to succeed. Doing so would benefit both their party and the country.
Matt Johanson is a high school teacher, freelance journalist and author of three books. His writing can be found at www.mattjohanson.com.