In the wake of Roy Moore’s historic loss, he, his campaign staff, and others will desperately point their fingers at who’s to blame. They’ll blame the liberal media because everything any major outlet reports is “fake news.” They’ll blame the Democrats, who could only have cheated and manipulated their way to victory. And they’ll blame members of their own party like myself and Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., who committed the ultimate sin of not voting for a man who we believe assaulted a 14-year-old girl.

But who they won’t blame is Moore himself and the campaign he ran — the man who actually deserves it. It is primarily Moore’s fault that a Democrat will be representing Alabama in the Senate, and trying to tell the story any other way is pure fantasy.

Though Moore sold himself as an anti-politician and Washington outsider, he actually played the campaign game like any other politician would. He set himself up as a man of character who would fight for “Alabama values,” and he wove himself into the popular anti-establishment narrative because that’s what would get him votes. In true political fashion, he focused more on grandiose language about God and condemnations of his opponent rather than actual policy.

In other words, Moore didn’t give voters a reason to support him. He never talked about how he would improve our economy, nor did he offer any vision for Alabama’s future.

Moore has yet to take responsibility for his own actions and pitfalls — he still has not officially conceded the race. He has only name-called and deflected the blame. Even some of his core supporters have told me they are embarrassed that Moore will not concede.

The GOP had the chance to remove Moore from the ballot and replace him with an upstanding Republican candidate, but the party instead failed to respond and expected the Republicans in my state to vote for Moore even if they believed the accusers. Gov. Kay Ivey announced that, although she believed the accusers, she was going to vote for Moore anyway. That sent a message that political pragmatism was more important than doing the right thing.

In contrast, one of her challengers in the upcoming June 2018 gubernatorial primary, Scott Dawson, said clearly that if the allegations proved true he would withdraw his support from Roy Moore because his honor and faith in Christ was more important than political expediency.

Now that the election is over, simply blaming the media and the Democrats will not bring Republican victory in 2018. If Republicans want to retain or grow their Senate majority, we need to redefine ourselves as Reagan conservatives.

Somewhere in past decade, the GOP lost sight of its core principles. The idea that some Republicans would fervently support an alleged sexual predator is incredibly disturbing. Many Republicans said repeatedly that Moore should be innocent until proven guilty — but they had no qualms calling his accusers liars and discounting their stories without any proof that they were lying.

We should not trust politicians just because they are in our party, and we should not distrust others because someone else tells us too

This exposes a greater problem in the Republican Party and politics in general: the tendency of voters to mindlessly follow their party without doing their own research and making decisions for themselves. For a successful republic to function, it’s imperative to have an informed and engaged electorate. Party indicators are helpful in informing voters of candidates’ general policies, but they say nothing about a candidate’s character or actual workable ideas for political change.

Interestingly, Moore is a Republican in name only — he does not have the desired character of a conservative Republican, and he does not have concrete Republican ideals that will enact real change. As Republicans, we need to ask ourselves who want to be: the party that has majorities in Congress but fills those seats with liars and unfit candidates, or the party that nominates respectable Americans who stand for what’s right, even if it means risking defeat.

Moore’s loss means losing a Senate seat, but it doesn’t have to mean losing ourselves in fits of anger and baseless accusations. The GOP needs to bounce back, regroup, and prepare for 2018. Childish finger-pointing doesn’t make what happened any less real. Roy Moore lost, and Republicans need to rationally and maturely deal with the consequences.

Christopher Reid is an attorney in Birmingham. Ala. He has worked for Republican leadership in the United State House of Representatives, the Heritage Foundation, and was policy adviser to the Governor of Alabama. He currently co-hosts a conservative radio show which is heard throughout the state of Alabama.

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