It's a PR battle as well as a policy one.
Here's some free advice: go libertarian (yes, libertarian!) and fiscal con instead of social con, PLEASE. Go for freedom and opportunity, not tired and obviously alienating retreads about banning abortion and gay marriage. This doesn't mean you abandon your morality, but it does mean that as much as you don't want other people imposing their morality on you, you shouldn't make a big show of wanting to do the same thing back. Hard-core social cons, I am looking at you. By your own intransigence you are ensuring that the people least accommodating of your views will win and win and win, and you are making it too easy for them to paint us all as haters and ideologues and troglodytes.
More free advice: any loopy, crusty male GOP politician who makes any public statement whatsoever about rape (other than to condemn it in no uncertain terms) should be automatically and very publicly drummed out of the party. You think I'm kidding? I'm not.
We are going to have to deal more intelligently with immigration reform, and we need principled, practical reform. We have got to expand the tent. And we have to make clear that ignorant nativist "deport everybody" arguments will not be acceptable. (No, this doesn't mean massive amnesty either.)
We need to articulate the American Dream, and that it is NOT dependency. It should sound more like "you can build it, and we the government will get out of your way" and less like "please please give me 'free' birth control pills." It should sound more like contagiously optimistic "Morning in America" and less like petty us-against-them "revenge."
One big wish that I won't get: a libertarian-friendly cable news outlet. But I can still wish for one for all of us young sassy, snarky libertarian skeptics of big government and the establishment wings of the two other parties. On one end, we get shrieking people at MSNBC, and on the other we get shrieking people at Fox. I wish we had another. At least we have Reason.
Aaaand since I'm already going on, let me say this. Make room for people who aren't Christians. The first Hindu and the first Buddhist were just elected to Congress, and they were both Dem women. Look, when I say that we should make room for people who aren't Christians, I don't mean you have to water down your own Christianity, so calm down, evangelical social cons! What I'm saying is that endless flapping about religion per se is counter-productive. Making it divisive like that is counter-productive. I am a Christian, but sometimes all the religious yammering was pretty much creeping me out (on the Dem side too, to be fair). I can't even imagine what it would do to someone who isn't a co-religionist. Anyway, there's something just ugly about all sides using personal faith as a political football. Protect the bedrock principle of freedom of religion and then get out of the way. I'm just going to quote one line from The Ides of March that might apply:
"I'm not a Christian. I'm not an atheist. I'm not Jewish. I'm not Muslim. My religion, what I believe in, is called the Constitution of the United States of America."Then leave it at that. That's already way ahead of current assaults on the Constitution and the Obamacare mandate hammering Catholics and encroaching on their religious freedom (which, by the way, we should be vociferously defending regardless of whether we are Catholics or not - and that is exactly my point). As an aside, I was happy to see that Mitt Romney's Mormonism wasn't really trotted out against him in most circles. That's progress. I have some home truths for the loopiest of the evangelicals too, but that's another post. Shoot, that's another blog. (UPDATE: This is exactly what I'm talking about. )
One last thing: NO JEB BUSH. EVER. Sorry, man, nothing personal.
And one last last thing: Stop forming circular firing squads!
Come on, happy warriors! It's easy to get despondent, but as I tell my students, you can cry all you want, but when you're done, you still have to do the same work you needed to do before the crying ... so the crying is ultimately a waste of time and energy.
UPDATE: Am I being unfair to the social cons? This year everybody was mostly behind the "we're campaigning on the economy" theme even though I'm sure this wasn't easy for some. I'm just saying: Don't take the defeat as justification to say "we tried that, and it didn't work, so let's go back to highlighting those social con issues." Because I'm pretty sure that's not going to work either in the long run. No, this doesn't mean that I'm anti-family or whatever!
Althouse has some thoughts on where to go with various voting groups. Hmmm.
Of course, I could be wrong about everything, and we could all be doomed, doomed, DOOOOOMED. But come on. Doesn't even seeing those words stir within you the good old-fashioned desire to rebel? To not give up?