Having been elected as a Republican four times in predominately Democrat areas, I believe I have some expertise in this subject. My four campaigns were intense, targeted and every 'expert' said I was going to lose.
I didn't - and here's why:
Campaigns are won by drawing a contrast and offering the voters something different - and hopefully, better - than your opponent.
When Republicans talk about being 'moderate' or 'appealing to the middle' they mean representing ideas that are just like what is being espoused by their opponents, the Democrats.
When given such a choice, voters are NOT going to select a Democrat-lite candidate when they can vote for, and get, an actual Democrat.
This lesson was clear on the national level with John McCain and locally with the 2006 election of Lucas County Commissioner Ben Konop over Republican City Councilman George Sarantou.
In the national election, both candidates voted in favor of the biggest expansion of government - the bailout. There were other similarities in perspective and even the selection of Sarah Palin wasn't enough to give McCain the edge he needed to solidify his base and draw conservative-leaning voters to his side.
In the commissioner race, the GOP candidate said 'I agree with my opponent' more than he said anything else. Especially in Lucas County, which strongly favors electing Democrats, you cannot win by saying you're more like your opponent than not.
Many conservatives are concerned - and rightly so - that the GOP has lost its brand; that it no longer stands for the core principles of limited government, lower taxation, individual responsibility, local control and less government involvement in our daily lives. The reason we no longer 'own' those issues is because our elected officials have drifted so far from them. It certainly doesn't help that the Republican National Committee is more committed to maintaining incumbency than it is in promoting the values of the party.
And the voters, recognizing this, have rejected such Republicans.
Many times throughout my political career I had people disagree with me over my votes or positions on the issues. However, they always said they respected me because my positions and votes were consistent with what I said I believed. It didn't matter to me who was making the request - I first looked to the statutes to see if I had the authority to do it and, if so, I weighed it against those core principles.
Needless to say, I often found people mad - but not at me, personally, because they got what they elected. In many other areas, voters are not so lucky. They've elected "Republicans" who don't hold the line on their core principles and the choice is either to 'hold your nose and vote for the lesser of two evils' or withdraw from the process.
But it's not just the politicians or the philosophy, it's you and me and our willingness actually do something, rather than just complain.
There is hope, though. Many in the Republican Party are tired of being offered a Democrat or a Democrat-lite. They are forming new groups, on Facebook and other social media networks, and joining with others who are similarly angry. The only question is this: will there be enough of us to actually make a difference, and will we be able to use the tools we've seen the other side employ so effectively to do so?
Time will tell - but as the old saying goes, "If it is to be it is up to me."