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Rebuilding the GOP

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Even if John McCain pulls out a win, Republicans will almost certainly be crippled in Congress. But Soren Dayton cautions his fellow Republicans not to deflect the blame:

Maybe the problem is us. The lesson of this election for Republicans cannot be about John McCain, although he has his faults. It has to be about the establishment and us. Our leaders have lead us astray. It is probably time to find new leaders. Rank and file Republicans get that. That’s why the last two guys standing were the farthest from the establishment: John McCain and Mike Huckabee.

Until the establishment in Congress and party accept that they are part of the problem, we are just going to continue to lose more seats and continue to destroy our party and our movement. McCain isn’t doing that.

Four years ago, Republicans appeared poised to remain in power for a generation while Democrats wallowed in the morass of old ideas and shredded credibility. But only two years later, Americans decided that it was the Republicans who’d lost their credibility by exchanging their reformist spirit for the trappings of power. Now, with even greater defeat a real possibility, forward-thinking conservatives like Dayton are preparing for the kind of leadership change Republicans must undergo if they hope to make their time in the minority minimal.

I’ve never been a Republican, but I am actively rooting for a revived GOP that can provide a strong alternative to the liberalism we’ll likely see from a Barack Obama administration and a Pelosi/Reid Congress. Republicans would do well to cast out the anti-intellectualism that masquerades as populism, sweep away the Tom Delay power gambits that substituted for leadership and stop allowing pugilists like Rush Limbaugh treat party discipline as more important than new ideas.

There is still room in our political culture for fiscal responsibility and the promotion of personal liberty over government mandates. But the Republicans, in their hunger for power, jettisoned those principles. Now they need to reclaim them and remake them to address 21st century challenges. The longer Republicans point fingers, the longer before they can begin rebuilding.