(Stephen Allott) – Now that the dust has settled on the last election, maybe it is time for a little contemplative reflection. For sure, it was a terrific testament to our system that over 125 million votes were cast in the Presidential election. But a closer analysis suggests a more disturbing figure. Only 60% of those eligible to vote actually turned up at the polls. Over 80 million voters chose to sit out what was widely touted (with much justification) as the most important election of our lifetime.
In our own State of Nevada, we fared slightly above the national average. Even so, over 450,000 failed to make their preferences known. President Obama fell short of 100,000 votes of registered Democrats and candidate Mitt Romney failed to convince 40,000 registered Republicans to vote for him. It also appears that the more than 250,000 Non Partisan registered voters in our state simply stayed at home.
The reasons for the lack of participation by so many voters are probably manifold. Voters of both major parties probably feel that their issues and concerns are not being addressed by our elected officials. The highly negative tone of the campaigns may have turned off the voters, and then, there is always natural voter apathy. But, whatever the reason, these voters need to be contacted and persuaded to participate in our system for it to be a truly representative government.
In Nevada, in State Senate district 9, Democrat Justin Jones narrowly bested Republican Mari Makashima St. Martin by a mere 301 votes in a race where more than 12,000 voters failed to participate. Notwithstanding the Democratic voter registration edge, if 3% of these voters had voted for Ms. St. Martin, the balance of power in the Nevada Senate would have tipped to Republican control and altered the course for Nevada. This was certainly a microcosm as to what occurred throughout the nation election night.
This was an election cycle that should have been a cakewalk for the Republican Party, given the dire straits in which the nation finds itself, and the total lack of leadership or unity from the White House and the ineptitude of this administration. Yet, the party barely moved the needle, in any state, much less our own – despite Nevada fielding a stellar crop of candidates at the state and local level.
The Democratic Party offered nothing new at their convention – other than the brouhaha over God and Jerusalem, and that the nation needs to pay for Ms. Sandra Fluke’s contraception. The rest was their standard fare of Republican bashing.
But, my concern is more about the fate of the Republican Party as it failed to capitalize on an abysmal record by this administration. And now there is yet more talk about the need for the party to alter its message and be more inclusive.
I would submit that the Republican Party does not need to change its message but refine its deliverance. Lest it be forgotten, it is the Republican Party that has always been on the right side of history.
Republicans have always been demonized as racists. Yet, it was the Republican Party that was founded out of the desire to promote the abolition of slavery. It was the Republican Party which elected Hiram Revels, the first African-american to the US Senate while Senate Democrats opposed his seating.
The Republican Party continues to be accused of not being concerned with women’s issues. Yet, it was the Republican Party which championed the suffragette movement and which elected Jeanette Rankin from Montana as the first female to the US House of Representatives.
Republicans have been branded as always trying to ‘suppress the vote’. Yet, when the Voting Rights Act was passed only 2 Republican Senators voted against it, while 17 of their fellow Democratic colleagues voted the same way. Where it not for Republicans, the Voting Rights Act would not have passed. Similarly, it was the Republicans who voted in the House and Senate for the passage of the Civil Rights Act, with over 80% in both houses for each version and revision of the bills. The Democrats failed to muster 70% for any of the bills, and it was the Southern Democrats who introduced the Jim Crow laws.
The Republicans have constantly been admonished for being heartless. However, no party has a monopoly on caring for their neighbors. It is inherent in the character of every American to care for their fellow citizens. The question is who does it best? The Democrats believe that all should be administered at a federal level with bloated government, with minimal oversight. Republicans believe it should be done at the local, community level.
It is this belief that places the Republican Party far more in tune with the nation as envisaged by the founding-fathers. If there is any doubt, one only needs to read the penultimate Federalist Paper, #84 authored by Alexander Hamilton. The Paper questions the necessity of the Bill of Rights, as the framers debated whether the Constitution fundamentally permitted legislating the restrictions of government contained in the Bill of Rights, such was their belief in limited government. It even suggests that the passage of the Bill of Rights would be dangerous.
The truth of the matter is that the Republican Party is the party of compassion, of hope and opportunity for all, and equal rights for all law abiding citizens. Above all, it is the party of minimal government intrusion in our lives.
Somehow, that message is not coming across to the public at large as the Republican Party has allowed itself to be inaccurately defined by the Democratic Party and a complicit media.
Now is not too soon to start reaching those voters who did not vote last time around. Regretfully, at the State and local level in Nevada, the Republican Party is still at odds with itself, which is a pity. Unless we find a way of communicating to voters on a direct and individual basis what we stand for – and soon, both at a state and national level – we may well be asking ourselves, “Quo Vadis Republican Party?”