Politics
Wisconsin Republican Rep. Paul Ryan makes remarks to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Oxon Hill, Md., March 6, 2014. (REUTERS/Mike Theiler) Wisconsin Republican Rep. Paul Ryan makes remarks to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Oxon Hill, Md., March 6, 2014. (REUTERS/Mike Theiler)  

Should Republicans ‘Make Their Case’ (Or Just Win?)

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Matt K. Lewis
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      Matt K. Lewis

      Matt K. Lewis is a senior contributor to The Daily Caller, and a contributing editor for The Week. He is a respected commentator on politics and cultural issues, and has been cited by major publications such as The Washington Post and The New York Times. Matt is from Myersville, MD and currently resides in Alexandria, VA. Follow Matt K. Lewis on Twitter <a>@mattklewis</a>.

National Review’s latest editorial notes that “Republicans continue to lack any strategy for winning the November elections beyond avoiding mistakes and hoping that President Obama’s unpopularity, especially in key states, delivers control of the Senate to them.”

My response — in a word: So?

“Avoiding mistakes” sounds to me like an upgrade. Frankly, that alone might be too ambitious to pull off.

The truth is that NR’s advice sounds good. Hell, I’ve probably made similar arguments. “First you win the argument, then you win the vote.” A party that doesn’t present any affirmative reasons for support can have no mandate — no governing philosophy.

On this, we agree.

But here’s where I part company with NR, and that is to say that a phony message foisted on candidate would be worse than having no message. (Note: In their final graf, NR concedes the GOP “is not going to do any of this corporately, so individual candidates should step up.” But it’s hard to see that happening on an individual basis, so it’s almost a moot point.)

The truth is that the Republican Party is still going through an identity crisis. It is unclear to me, for example, whether Rand Paul’s aversion to interventionism will be the new foreign policy dogma — or if Marco Rubio’s more muscular foreign policy will win the day.

It may take settling on a 2016 Republican nominee before we begin to get a sense for what the modern Republican Party is really about.

But guess what? That’s okay. That’s okay, because winning the mid-term elections doesn’t require grand messaging or specific policy proposals. As much as I like the romantic idea of a Contract With America 2.0, it’s not necessary, and — at this moment — would probably be counterproductive, serving as a distraction — or worse — as a target.

This is not to say the GOP will win by doing nothing, but it is to say I like their odds better this way.

Just as Democrats managed to capture Congress in 2006, by virtue of opposing George W. Bush, Republicans can take the U.S. Senate this year without much of a vision. On a national level, the only vision that is necessary is to stop Barack Obama’s disastrous administration.

Why distract from that?