Recently I read commentary from Alex Rosenwald from the NetRightNation blog, part of which I’ll detail below:
When Republicans win, the Democrats launch holy war. There is no insult, attack or underhanded assault that could possibly be considered out of bounds. But when the Democrats and liberals win, both parties are supposed to join hands and sing kumbayah. Sure, the Democrats want to bury the hatchet—right in the Republicans’ backs. This is a prescription for disaster and a generation of irrelevance. Mr. Obama should be challenged and fought every step of the way.
There are countless examples of bi-partisan bills that have failed. The Financial Bailout of 2008, supported by Senators McCain and Obama, has only increased the national debt and put the Country in a more challenging downward spiral. Others include: Campaign Finance “Reform”, which banned soft money. There is No Child Left Behind, which spends excessive federal money on a program that has produced miserably for helping improve the quality of education in America. And then, there is “The Prescription Drug Benefit”, notably the largest expansion of the welfare state since the LBJ Years–to name a few of the bi-partisan “achievements” in Washington.
Now, let’s go back to the bedrock question: is the GOP still relevant? Well, if it continues to support failed, liberal policies, it will become little more than a footnote in history for having failed to offer a compelling conservative alternative to the Big Government socialism engineering.
If two people are doing the same job, one is redundant. And it’s usually the copycat who evanesces. So the Republicans have taken a hit. Now, they have to decide whether they want to roll over and play dead, or hit back. Right now, they seem to be reaching for the embalming fluid.
For most of my adult life I’ve been a card-carrying member of the Republican Party, and for the better part of ten years I’ve represented anywhere from a few square-block precinct to an entire county in the GOP apparatus. Since I’ve been involved, I’ve seen the items Rosenwald mentions come to pass and take the party and country farther and farther from its conservative roots, usually with the tacit approval of those who run the party at the state and national level. One example I’m not fond of is the Ohio Republican Party attempting to avoid primary fights and backing more moderate candidates they believed were more “electable.” In 2006 that strategy caused the state GOP to pretty much go “splat” as they lost the Governor’s chair and other statewide offices.
To use a more recent example, the conservative candidate here in the First Congressional District lost a close election to a more “moderate” candidate who almost totally eschewed the Democrat party label (but not their money.) Thus, many on the other side have argued that Andy Harris was “too conservative” for the district.
My contention though is that in this election at least 50 percent voted for a candidate who favored lower taxes and less government – two linchpins of conservative thought. Others voted for the more centrist candidate because of the perceived abrasiveness of the conservative Harris, perhaps not knowing fully the principles of Frank Kratovil but instead believing his line about being an “independent” candidate. I also happen to believe that had Wayne Gilchrest won the GOP primary Frank Kratovil would have won by running as a more conservative Washington outsider.
Regardless, First District voters may end up being somewhat surprised by what their centrist candidate actually votes for in Washington.
Republicans have tended to run away from the principles that won election for Ronald Reagan and Newt Gingrich because of a perception (created in part by the mainstream media) that to win and get things done they needed to be “bipartisan.” In truth, that’s how George W. Bush won in 2000, by pledging a “new tone” and working with Democrats to accomplish what he termed “compassionate conservatism.” While he did get the most conservative portion of his agenda passed (the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts), many of the domestic issues Bush is known for are what Rosenwald complains about in his piece. Unfortunately, Republicans who were somewhat apprehensive about the increased size of government programs and the budget were still loathe to cross their party’s President – which also explains in part why the Gingrich-led Congresses of 1995-2000 were more successful in advancing conservative principles than the later GOP-controlled bodies of 2001-2006.
Rosenwald is right in thinking our party stands at a crossroads. For at least the next two years, the only Republican body of significance may be the House of Representatives (depending on how the runoff election
today tomorrow in Georgia turns out.) Unfortunately, the GOP won’t have a lot of control but perhaps they can take some pages out of the Democrats’ book and become obstructionists, hold hearings just to embarrass the Obama Administration – in general do their job at being the opposition.
If we stick to principles, we have the better ideas for the direction our nation should take.
Interestingly, I’m working with Rosenwald on a future post – the details will be out soon.