Shortly after the November elections, I heard Fun.’s Some Nights and realized that many of the lyrics in this song apply to the current turmoil in the Republican Party stemming both from the nomination of Mitt Romney and his failure to win the general election on November 6th.
Now, I know what some of you are thinking; gee, do you always draw ties between politics and pop culture? Well, I guess that connection is simply programmed in my brain. For example, when I watched the James Bond film Skyfall yesterday, I noticed a number of interesting theories at work, such as the question of when or if one should surrender his or her own needs and desires to the greater good of the state. But any discussion of Skyfall will have to wait for another day.
First, if you haven’t heard Fun.’s Some Nights, or if you don’t remember the song, I encourage you to listen to it again here.
For purposes of this article, I’ll quote a line from the song and then explain the current political significance regarding the controversies within the Republican Party. Is everyone clear on the format then? Okay. Let’s begin.
Right off, we have the line “Some nights, I stay up cashing in my bad luck”.
A few Republican pundits blamed the results of the 2012 election on bad luck. Oh, if only Hurricane Sandy didn’t hit when it did…oh, if only Representative Todd Akin didn’t stick his foot in his mouth when it came to rape, Mitt Romney would have won. Although bad luck can certainly play a factor in all facets of life, including elections, the Republican Party lost for more important reasons than simply “bad luck”.
The next line of interest is “But I still wake up, I still see your ghost”.
The political ghost for the Republicans is the spirit of Ronald Reagan. Most Republican activists fondly remember the Reagan presidency in particularly idyllic terms. Oh, they think, if only we could only find another Ronald Reagan then we could return both the country and the party to some sort of golden age. Unfortunately, the standard practice is to whitewash history so we tend to forget that despite his greatness, Reagan did have his flaws and the country wasn’t perfect under his rule. Nevertheless, Reagan was a good president, but we must recognize the simple fact is that he is gone. The GOP must look to the future, not continually dwell on the past.
Moving on, we find the lines:
“Oh Lord, I’m still not sure what I stand for oh
What do I stand for? What do I stand for?
Most nights, I don’t know anymore…”
In these lyrics we find the crux of the GOP dilemma. What does the Republican Party stand for these days, if anything? Many conservatives I know would argue that the Republicans stand for a federal government restrained by the constitution, free markets, fiscal responsibility, personal liberty, a strong national defense, and a faith in God (see the creed of the Republican Party of Virginia). But one does have to wonder, if those principles guide the GOP, why did they select such a poor standard bearer in the form of Mitt Romney? After all, during his political career, he opposed the 2nd Amendment, approved of judicial activism and fought against the right to life by supporting Roe v. Wade, spoke in favor of some aspects of government involvement in healthcare, and believes that government can deny citizens suspected of terrorism their basic constitutional protections. Are these the values that the modern GOP supports?
Then we have “This is it, boys, this is war – what are we waiting for?”
Both the Republican and Democratic Parties have been actively working to destroy political dialogue in this country. Differing political opinions are not tolerated; those who disagree, either domestically or internationally, are treated as enemies that cannot be reasoned with. Taken in its extreme form, you get thoughts much like President George W. Bush statement in 2001, “Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.” The prospect of any sort of political middle ground is treated with hostility. Once a people begin to treat their friends and neighbors as enemies based upon mere political disagreements, that country is no longer politically healthy. As fellow political blogger Rick Sincere stated earlier today, “People with whom I disagree are people with whom I disagree. They are not demons, mortal enemies, or the Antichrist. Disagreements about policy and culture are the lifeblood of representative democracy and pluralist society. They are not signs of the Apocalypse.”
“Why don’t we break the rules already?”
The Republican Party famously chose to modify many of its rules at the Republican National Convention in order to favor the establishment and exclude liberty activists. But it is okay, because the end justifies the means, right?
“I was never one to believe the hype – save that for the black and white”
Leading up to the election, some political pundits, like Karl Rove or Dick Morris, predicted a victory for Romney, apparently not based upon political reality, but predicated upon the mere hope that Romney would win. Should we leave objective journalism to the “black and white” newspapers?
“I try twice as hard and I’m half as liked”.
Mitt Romney did work diligently to win the election. However, far too many voters had a hard time liking a New England liberal elitist who was unable to relate to the plight of the average working man or woman. Nationally, he claimed less votes than the not particularly well-liked John McCain.
“…but here they come again to jack my style”
Here we have the establishment lament. Oh, those cursed Ron Paul supporters! If only they would have fallen in line behind the party nominee. Who cares what principles they may or may not hold? The victory of the party is of paramount concern. They only exist to cause trouble or to “jack” the style of the establishment.
“…who I am, who I am, who I am. Oh, who am I?”
As stated earlier, the GOP is a party with an identity crisis.
“Cause I could use some friends for a change
And some nights, I’m scared you’ll forget me again”
In order to survive as a national party, the Republicans will need to attract new voters or “friends”. A lot of these potential friends are youth associated with the Ron Paul movement but in order to attract these folks, the party must adopt a more pro-liberty slant.
“Some nights, I always win, I always win…”
A repetition of the mistaken belief and/or fantasy that Romney and the Republicans would enjoy a great victory on Election Day.
“Well, that is it guys, that is all – five minutes in and I’m bored again
Ten years of this, I’m not sure if anybody understands”
One of the great concerns of the establishment is the acquisition of power. To many of them, principles are a secondary issue. Without this power, they grow bored and don’t wish to wait ten long years (or, in this case, four years) to regain influence in Washington.
“So this is it? I sold my soul for this?
Washed my hands of that for this?
I miss my mom and dad for this?”
Some conservative activists are rightly upset that they compromised their principles in order to defeat the supposed greater threat of Barack Obama. The line, “I miss my mom and dad for this?” echoes the fact that many volunteers sacrificed their family life for the pursuit of this political goal. Unfortunately, at the end of the day, we don’t have a Republican victory, the GOP doesn’t seem to hold too closely to our principles any longer, and some of our personal relationships have become strained apparently needlessly.
“Who the %&*# wants to die alone all dried up in the desert sun?”
Unless the GOP returns to its principles and works to attract the new converts, sooner or later the party will die alone or be relegated to political irrelevance. This line could also refer to the neo-conservative foreign policy of George W. Bush, which was extended by Barack Obama. These conflicts resulted in many of our soldiers dying alone in the deserts of the Middle East.
“When I look into my nephew’s eyes…
Man, you wouldn’t believe the most amazing things that can come from…
Some terrible nights…ahhh…”
I’ve stated this fact over and over again, but the youth are the future of the party. If we could but understand their concerns and tie them into the greater Republican movement then perhaps some good could come from the terrible night of November 6th.
Although I began writing this article before watching Fun.’s video, the backdrop of the U.S. Civil War is appropriate to the political situation. After all, the Republican Party is embroiled in its own civil war to determine who will control the party, the establishment or the conservative/liberty wing. This battle is clearly playing out in Virginia as Lt. Government Bill Bolling squares off against Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli for the Republican nomination for Governor in 2013. One important question is yet to be determined. Is the modern Republican Party in the mold of Thomas Jefferson, who called for a limited federal government, or has it reverted to the party of Abraham Lincoln who promoted the expansion of federal authority?
Perhaps after reading this article, you might hear something new when Some Nights comes on the radio again. So what does the Republican Party stand for these days? Honestly, some nights, I don’t know. But I do know the direction that I’ll be pushing it. The GOP must be a strong advocate for liberty at all times.