Enough talk: Move forward, Republicans
The election is over, but the recriminations drag on. One after another, battered Republicans keep stepping onto soapboxes to explain what went wrong on Election Day. Of course, no one accepts the blame. Too many are still wasting time by seeking scapegoats.
Most offer cure-all proposals that are nothing new. Moderates still preach that the party must reach out to the middle and duck divisive social questions; conservatives promise to stand firm on traditional issues and defend the moral high ground.
It is time for New Hampshire's Republicans to quit looking back. This internal debate won't solve anything. Stop talking about 2012. Move ahead. Don't wait for 2016 or 2014. The party must learn from the successes of New Hampshire's Democrats, a party that kept organizing, fund-raising and building for the future even when Republican control seemed impregnable. It paid off. The state GOP must take practical steps to strengthen itself from its headquarters on down and install a fresh team of leaders with real skills in political organization and communications. New energy can be as important as new ideas.
Not everything was lost on Nov. 6. Republicans must build from those bases, including the Legislature. The GOP still holds the state Senate presidency. A tough, experienced legislator will lead its big House minority caucus. By enlisting public support, Peter Bragdon and Gene Chandler can derail some of the tax and spending increases that the governor-elect and her legislative allies will propose.
Remember, the tax issue retains tremendous power. An impressive 57 percent of the state voted to ban an income tax forever, in part because of the hard work of Kevin Smith and his No Income Tax PAC. That constitutional amendment failed this time, but the vote was effectively a referendum on broad-based taxes. Many Democrats and independents endorsed basic conservative principles by supporting the amendment. Republicans, not Democrats, represent a majority of New Hampshire's voters on this bedrock question of fiscal policy. That is a significant political victory.
That momentum must continue. Republicans and conservatives must be ready to challenge Maggie Hassan and Terie Norelli as they attempt to raise taxes and fees whenever possible. If New Hampshire families who believe in small, efficient government do not become anti-tax activists now, they will pay a high price later.
After losing a battle, a routed army can give up or reload. We recommend the latter.