Have you noticed how Republicans rarely, if ever, ask “What went wrong?” Even when things go wrong, they say “Stick to the plan, find the real Republicans and keep moving ahead.”
23 years ago Newt Gingrich laid the foundation for winning with the “Contract with America.” There were 8 government and operational reforms listed that no one actually remembers, but the message was that government would be reduced and austerity would cut wasteful spending. There was no resolute policy, but that didn’t matter. It said to Americans: “We understand that government works for YOU, and this is our pledge to fight for YOUR values.” It was dovetailed to the Reagan dictum: Government isn’t the solution, government is the problem.
It resonated by saying (and repeating over and over) that government is too big, too invasive, is taking your liberties and your money, and not enhancing your values. Values are never defined either, but patriotism was enveloped into Christianity, military strength, and unbridled wealth and cloaked in a nationalist spirit that embraced Americans’ cherished belief that we are the Shining City on the Hill.
It inspired, and inspiration doesn’t need definition or even justification; it only needs to run through our veins. Democrats have forgotten that. When Democrats lose, we get together to figure out what went wrong, and then issue a proclamation to say that “We’re going to learn how to listen so that we can serve you better.” That might even be the most genuinely intelligent way to get better and to do better things, but it doesn’t inspire, and that’s where we fail.