The Democrats held the White House by a slim popular margin, increased their majority in the Senate by two seats and gained a couple of meaningless House seats. Given the state of the economy, the debt and the survival of the unpopular Obamacare law, Republicans mangled an election that should have resulted in landslide victories for them.
They should easily have regained the White House and sewn up a majority in the Senate. They lost because they were outclassed, outsmarted and outmuscled in a campaign waged by an elite Democratic machine that knew how to win.
Right up until election night — when Republicans still confidently thought they would win — it turns out they were clueless. They were clueless about the turnout, the electorate and the belief that substantive issues would trump a great Democrat PR campaign. They now have four years to figure it out.
The Republican House is now the only thing politically standing in the way of President Barack Obama defiantly implementing policies that would likely plummet this country into further economic abyss.
Like the 300 Spartans who faced masses of invading Persians, the House Republicans should stand together to accomplish a monumental task — protect the economy, reduce deficit spending and eventually pay down the debt that will strangle our children. They represent the last bastion of protection for the American people.
House Republicans should work with Obama to find reasonable compromise, but not to capitulate to his tax-and-spend strategy. They should secure real spending cuts, meaningful entitlement reform and a restructuring of Obamacare.
In exchange, the GOP should be willing to offer up politically acceptable tax increases and appease the public's misguided perceptions of fairness (thanks to Obama).
Republicans should also find a good spokesperson to articulate their fiscal points of view. Obama has been a master of selling his policies — often bad policies — to the American public.
Is there anyone in the Republican Party who can do even an adequate job of selling the public on its programs, priorities and visions?
The Republican House also has an easy out. If it compromises, its political popularity may rise, perhaps enhancing re-election bids in 2014. Ironically, allowing Obama's fiscal policies to take hold now will also likely enhance a Republican win of the White House in 2016.
For, if Obama's enacted policies lead to fiscal and economic chaos — as they are likely to — the blame would be all his. He would no longer be able to blame a recalcitrant House, as he has done for the past two years.
However, if the Republican House cedes its role to do what it believes is best for the country, we will all be worse off. And we can then blame ourselves for making such bad decisions about the people we vote into office.
Stephen Nussbaum of Nicholasville owns an insurance agency.