By Richard Larsen
Published – Idaho State Journal, 05/17/2009
It has been entertaining to witness the unsolicited counsel pontificated from the left telling the Republican Party what’s wrong with it. Not just nationally, but locally, with a liberal high school teacher and a liberal physics instructor lecturing Republicans on what they’re doing wrong. Since many liberals don’t view Republicans as different-minded Americans, but as enemies to be vanquished, isn’t that a bit like the U.S. accepting counsel from Iran or North Korea on what we’re doing wrong? Theirs is the last counsel I would give credence to on the issue.
How about a little counsel to the Republican Party from one who considers himself a conservative? After all, I have a vested interest in its success, unlike the querulous ones barking from the left’s sidelines who cheer the current transformation of America, and would just as soon see an American uni-party system continue control in perpetuity.
The problem with the Republican Party is that it has allowed the liberal wing of the Democrat Party to dictate the discussion. Rather than leading on Constitutional and founding principles upon which this nation was based, those seeking to transform the country into something it was never intended to be have set the political dialogue. As a result, the discussion is not whether we should have a deficit at all, it’s, “How much is too much of a deficit?” Rather than all human life is sacred and should be protected, it’s, “How many innocents’ lives are too many to abort?” And instead of government should not be bailing out any businesses, it’s, “How big is too big to fail?”
Democrats do an excellent job of making promises to niche political groups, and then not fulfilling them. But they’re judged not on results, but on their intent, and their expressed fealty to them. The “Great Society” has redistributed trillions of dollars over the past four decades, and poverty levels remain, as a percentage of the population, about what they were when the “war on poverty” was declared. Promises to political niches are no more than efforts to buy votes, with someone else’s money. If Republicans want to win elections again, commit to doing what’s best for the country, and all people, and don’t try to outbid for their votes, or dissect the electorate based on clichéd parsing of issues or catering to special interest groups.
Return to the basic Constitutional premise that government is to “promote” the general welfare of the nation, not “provide” it. In our republic, government was intentionally created to maintain law and order, ensure our national security, protect life, facilitate interstate commerce, and preserve freedom. Our republic was never intended to be a panacea or balm for all the ills and travails of society. It was intended to provide a legal structure for the protection of liberty and rights that would allow individuals to get out of life what they were willing to invest personally into it. If you want to succeed as a party, distinguish yourselves from the other one, don’t be content to be “Democrat Lite.”
A great barometer by which to gauge the potential efficacy of a national leader who espouses basic conservative principles, is observing the ferocity with which the whiners from the left and the mainstream media attack them. Even today, long after the 2008 election, mainstream media are doing all they can to not just demean and belittle, but destroy Sarah Palin. Since conservatives were not energized behind McCain until after Palin came on the national political stage, and the media continue to attack her, it’s a safe bet that they fear her, or someone like her. There’s your political barometer at work.
Moving to the left will not save the Republican Party, moving to the right will. Republicans had arguably the most liberal presidential candidate ever this last cycle as he tried to stake out the moderate ground, and he lost. He was also the mainstream media’s darling since he frequently bashed conservatives, until they had their own horse in the race, their own “anointed one.”
Question D3 on the bipartisan Battleground Poll provides the evidence. It reads, “When thinking about politics and government, do you consider yourself to be… Very conservative, somewhat conservative, moderate, somewhat liberal, very liberal, unsure/refused.” In the August 2008 results, 20% of Americans considered themselves to be very conservative; 40% somewhat conservative; 2% moderate; 27% somewhat liberal, and 9% very liberal; and 3% didn’t know for sure. Those results have varied only slightly over the past 10 years. Do the math, and 60% of the American electorate considers itself to be at least somewhat conservative. Maybe the reason you Republicans are losing elections is because you’re abandoning the core conservative principles that the Republican Party was founded on.
Does that mean that the Republican Party must be a monolithic entity that only accepts for membership those who completely agree? Of course not. Ronald Reagan, our last truly conservative national leader, once said that someone who agrees with him 80% of the time is not his enemy.
Reagan won two landslides based on fundamental conservatism, or classical liberalism, if you will. You Republican leaders should not listen to the pundits who continually harp that the “era of Reagan is dead,” while to them the era of FDR will never expire. Return to your roots, genuinely, steadfastly, and faithfully, and you may be able to come out of the political wasteland you now find yourselves in.