GOP post-election advice to clean house, get ideas, resonates in Colorado

The post-election Republican gnashing of the teeth continues. In one interesting piece this week, the National Journal’s Charlie Cook got two “unnamed GOP strategists” to provide feedback on the national election losses. One of the more interesting tidbits was a mantra that sounds familiar here in Colorado. Democratic leaders — oh heck, let’s name them: Speaker Andrew Romanoff and Gov. Bill Ritter — have been critical of the same thing for some time. Namely: “Republicans are a whole lot better at being against things than at being for things.”

In the substantial Cook Report piece, the two unnamed Republican strategists provided all kinds of useful advice, including that their party would be well served to:

1. Clean their own house of embarrassing ethics problems (oh heck, let’s name them: Larry Craig, Mark Foley, Ted Stevens, Vito Fossella);

2. Get creative on energy and health care;


3. Realize that being anti-government isn’t exactly in vogue anymore.

And, sting! One of the strategists advises that the GOP must get past what he calls “the shallowness of our policies.”

“Republicans are a whole lot better at being against things than at being for things … On topics that the center really cares about, such as education and health care, we do one of two things. We either avoid them like the plague and are scared to talk about them or, if we say anything at all, it is to propose a tax cut or a tax credit.”

As the Colorado Independent reported last week, reform — at least in Colorado — may be harder than it sounds to reform. Four years ago Colorado had a Republican majority in both houses of the state Legislature and the governor’s office. Both U.S. Senate seats were held by Republicans. Five of seven members of Colorado’s delegation to the House of Representatives were card-carrying Republicans. Now, in 2008, flip it around and change the word “Republican” to “Democrat.”

One former Republican and former statewide elected regent, Jim Martin, is surely not the only one not convinced that change will be dealt by GOP hands anytime soon.

“As much as the Republican Party needs reform, it won’t happen,” says Martin, who has called for the formation of a strong third party. “The far right chorus still bellows ‘We Shall Not Be Moved,’ with solos by the three tenors of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Bill O’Reilly.”