In my days on the job we’d honestly evaluate ourselves after critical incidents in order to learn from them and improve performance in the next situation. We evaluated our own events and those of other agencies. After all, if you learn from someone else’s mistakes, you don’t have to gain that knowledge through experience.

It’s time that the Republican Party seriously considers doing the same. As I write this the presidential election is undecided, but leaning heavily toward Joe Biden. Given the differences in policy and what’s actually good for the country, that is unfathomable to me. It got me to thinking about what republicans could have done better.

While the president’s personality was under constant assail throughout the duration of his term in office, he endured and actually accomplished things that few thought he would. His results for the country are actually amazing considering he had to fight, not just political opponents, but a complicit media that was trying to undermine his every act.

The accomplishments include record employment for people of color, an economy that rebounded not once, but is in the process of doing so again after the ravages wrought by the coronavirus and three stellar appointments to the Supreme Court. There are hundreds of other court appointments that will impact the nation far beyond the term of this or future presidents. Then there are the successes in trade across the globe and foreign policy that struck peace deals in the Middle East that nobody believed were possible. There are more, but the point is made.

There were ample successes in this presidency that should earn Donald Trump another term. Yet, they may not. What more, or different actions, could have been taken?

This is where the after action evaluation comes in and the Republican Party needs an honest look at itself.

Enthusiasm seemed strong. MAGA gear, TRUMP flags and memorabilia were abundant and on display. Boat and car parades were heralded on social media as supporters yelled from the mountaintop their love for this president. The Trump rallies were sights to behold. The turnout dwarfed those of the Biden campaign. All great to see, but how many votes did they produce? The answer is none.

How many conversations did these supporters and party organizers actually have with individuals about the direction of the country and the need to keep it going? How many of them sat with neighbors explaining positions and issues to an uncertain potential voter? How many of the parade participants took the time to drive voters to the polls or help them register to vote and the follow up to see that they did?

For the two decades that I have been observing and commenting on politics, the Republican Party has been a big feeling, self-congratulating bunch that does little in the way of bringing votes to the ballot box.

Sign waves, boat and car parades, dinners and luncheons where folks pat each other on the back and bask in the glow of shared admiration for being right and somehow superior to political rivals bring exactly zero votes to a candidate. They lead only to wonder as to why the electorate didn’t see things as they did and vote accordingly. How could voters not see the enthusiasm and jump on the rolling or floating bandwagon?

How? Voters don’t respond to fluff and show. They respond to information that leads to understanding. They respond to proper messaging and clear direction from those who can impart it, if they aren’t too busy adorning the car or boat, or waving a sign that draws honks from passing cars, but zero votes.

Self evaluation isn’t always fun, but it is essential. And unless it’s done and real change is implemented, we can look forward to even more disappointment and wonder as we pat each other on the back and be proud of the showing that we made...that left votes on the table and our freedoms in jeopardy.

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