Lessons From the Midterm Elections

There has been much pondering and pontificating over America’s midterm elections’ results this week.  While there are still some races too close to call, and control of the Senate remains to be determined, one thing is clear: Pundits and pollsters alike, across the political spectrum, flat-out got it wrong.  Expecting a “Red Wave” to sweep in Republican majorities in both the House and Senate, Wednesday morning showed that we would merely have a divided government. What was lacking in too many places were leaders who spoke with the moral clarity required to reclaim the greatness of our nation.

Now, these same “experts” and politicians are failing to understand the results, believing this is either a repudiation of America First policies or acceptance of Bidenomics – centered around high inflation, suffering at home, and an apologetic America abroad. Both are wrong. 

By and large, conservative candidates succeeded when they did the work of winning the argument, not simply railing against the machine.  Conservatives won when they had good ideas, were able to articulate them well, and worked hard to convince their neighbors that these policies are right for them, their families, and the country.  Candidates who relied solely on their own celebrity, or celebrity endorsements, tended to fare poorly even in winnable races.  We should learn from this: Conservative solutions absolutely have the power to appeal to rural, urban, and suburban voters alike.  We just have to show up – to every county fair, to every church potluck, to every town hall – and talk to voters about these issues and show we have a plan that will work.

When I first ran for Congress in 2010, I was a businessman.  I kept my head down and worked hard to ensure my employees could provide for their families.  But, as such, I wasn’t particularly well known.  I hit the road and traveled all over Kansas’ 4th Congressional District.  My focus wasn’t on “owning the libs” or trashing my opponent’s policies.  The results of bad policies tend to speak for themselves.  Instead, my focus was on genuinely making the case for how limited government and greater individual liberty could offer real, effective solutions for the problems faced by farmers and families across the district.  If I had expected to receive votes based on who had endorsed me, or how many retweets I was getting on Twitter, I can guarantee you the good people of Kansas’ 4th District would never have hired me.

So, what are the policies we should be focused on over the coming years to retake Washington?  We should certainly focus on the pro-growth economics of lower taxes, less government, and more freedom.  We should embrace pro-family policies that put parents – not the government or activists or unions – at the center of their kid’s education and well-being.  And lastly, we should embrace a foreign policy that puts Americans first. 

Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has indeed affected energy prices here in the United States – something that has been compounded by Biden’s hostile domestic energy policies. American farmers are faced with much higher fertilizer prices due to the war as well.  The Trump Administration deterred Putin, while Joe Biden displayed weakness and gave Putin a green light.  Conservative solutions – embracing domestic energy while deterring our adversaries with strength – can deliver good outcomes for the American people.  Let’s make that case.

Beyond Ukraine, this Administration and its progressive base are laser-focused on implementing their green-energy agenda.  Doing so would simply ship American jobs to China, which harms American workers and our national security, while empowering the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).  Again, conservatives can offer a better path forward: Deregulate by cutting foolish, misguided green-energy regulations, and focus instead on growing American jobs and putting pressure on the CCP.  We should be making this case to Americans everywhere.

True conservatism can deliver for the American people.  Between now and 2024, we should be tireless advocates for a strong, clear-eyed foreign policy that puts the needs of the American people first, and domestic policies that privilege freedom, family, and faith over government dependence and intrusion.  And we should bear in mind that Americans are looking for strong, steady leadership that is focused on making their lives better.  They want serious people who represent their views, not unserious people who run on personality rather than substance.  They want leaders who will protect their cherished values and freedoms not because it is politically expedient, but because they truly believe in what makes America great.  Once we offer that, America will respond, and our Republic will be better for it.

Support the work of the ACLJ as we continue to bring you expert analysis on the issues that matter most.