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Inside the troubled mind of a Chicago Republican

OPINION

  • Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney delivers his concession speech Nov. 7.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney delivers his concession… (Reuters )
November 12, 2012|By Kyle Stone, @kestone83 | For RedEye

You might have noticed us trudging around the city—a sorry band of misfit zombies, clad in black, bewilderment painted on our faces. No, this has nothing to do with the umpteenth "Twilight" movie coming out. I'm talking about the plight of Chicago Republicans.

There are more of us than you may think. We live among you. We eat where you eat, shop where you shop and work where you work. We are your friends, your family and in some cases (most cases) your bosses. (Joking!)

Thousands of us attended election night parties last week, and we've been grieving ever since. For a group already considered an endangered political species in Illinois, we suffered a crippling blow. In addition to decisively losing our shot at the White House and Senate, our showing on the state and local level was an elephant massacre. Of the six hotly contested seats in Congress, Illinois Republicans lost five of them—including three of those won by freshmen in 2010.

Meanwhile, the breakdown on the state level went from bad to worse. Illinois Democrats added seats in both the state House and Senate, earning a veto-proof supermajority. Translation: They can do whatever the heck they want without so much as looking at a Republican.

For Republicans in Illinois, our reaction to the electoral blood bath has been fairly similar to the conventional stages of grief.

First there was denial. The pre-election polls couldn't all be wrong, could they? As for our state losses, the voters didn't reject us—Illinois House speaker Mike Madigan and his band of gerrymandering map-drawers did us in! (This one happens to be true, by the way.) Karl Rove demonstrated this initial stage during his election night meltdown on Fox News, when he argued with network number crunchers after Fox projected President Obama would carry Ohio.

Then there was anger. "How could voters be so feckless?" we demanded. We see out-of-control spending in Springfield and D.C., but they focus on moronic comments about rape by a few knucklehead Republicans. We see lagging economic growth, while they vote for more free stuff—evidently not understanding the consequences of massive deficits and overbearing national debt. We see simple math plaguing our state's pension obligations. They see little problem with endless and unsustainable promises.

Recently, the GOP has even resorted to bargaining, the next stage of grief. If we support amnesty in immigration reform, then maybe Latinos will actually consider voting for Republicans!

Ultimately, we're left with the final stages: depression and acceptance. Our state party is reeling, and our national effort was outhustled. The demographics point to increasing challenges, while our outreach to minority communities is woefully inadequate. Further, our message (not our principles) needs some recalibrating. And yes, we must accept more moderate social views within our party (specifically on issues such as immigration reform and gay marriage).

None of this means we have to accept losing in the future. Sooner or later a plurality of voters will grow tired of Democratic rule and see through the false depiction of Republican candidates invented by the Democratic establishment and a complicit media. Amazingly, we're not there yet.

Kermit the Frog famously cried that it's not easy being green. For Republicans here in Chicago, it's not easy being red ... especially when we're all so blue.

RedEye special contributor Kyle Stone is co-chair of Maverick PAC Chicago and a board member for the Chicago Young Republicans.

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