Sunday, January 21, 2007

Where Do Republicans Really Go From Here?

It becomes clearer and clearer every day that the Republican Party is locked in an internal conflict whose resolution, if that can ever really happen, will determine, not only the future success of the party, but also its impact on safeguarding what is left of the principles on which we have been governed and the rules of decency affecting how we relate to each other as Americans. Our democracy is a republic, with checks and balances and constitutional limits on federal intrusion into our lives. Our forefathers were well aware that democracy begins to fail when the foxes gain entry to the henhouse; that is, when a mass of uneducated voters, who take, but do not give, begin to control the public treasury.

When this same mass of uneducated and ignorant people also determine the social standards by which we live, through their support of ever more salacious and violent television programs and movies, something our forefathers could not have foreseen, a decent society begins to crumble. (Liberals who continue to maintain that the entertainment media have no impact on children, and any restrictions interfere with their ‘rights’, are now loudly complaining about the children who hung themselves after watching the Saddam videos.)

In the Republican Party we have people who are traditional and conservative and want the party to defend these values, and we have people who believe that they cannot win election unless they at least pretend to be liberals. We tend to call them ‘moderates’ if their approach seems pragmatic, rather than principled or even partisan. We also have people who are clearly liberals, even though they are declared Republicans. We use the term, RINO, to describe them (Republicans in Name Only). The loss of Congress in November, 2006 has exacerbated the conflict between those who say that we lost because we abandoned our conservative roots and those who say that the country is moving left, and we must move left with them. In my view, when you take into account the unpopularity of the Iraq War, the ineffectiveness and perceived corruption of Congressional Republicans, and combine it with the fact that this was an election in the off-year in the sixth year of Bush’s term, the number of seats lost seems quite low compared to historical averages. Another important point is the large number of Democrats who won seats by running on conservative platforms.

On illegal immigration, on McCain-Feingold and on education policy, our president has clearly shown that he governs as a moderate conservative – either by choice or by perceived necessity. These positions have angered and turned off many conservatives without gaining, in my view, a single liberal convert, and when you consider the poll numbers indicating large-scale opposition to abortion-on-demand and to same sex marriage, it is clear to me that Republicans should move right and stay right. Since conservatives are also much more disposed to safeguarding traditional values than are liberals, going right is not only the smart thing to do, it is the ‘right’ thing to do.

Let’s not have any more of the kind of nonsense we saw in Rhode Island last year, with the Republican National Committee supporting that extreme liberal twit, Lincoln Chaffee, with ads and money, against a popular conservative mayor (Steve Laffey) in the Republican senatorial primary. It succeeded in destroying Laffey, but it didn’t save the Republican seat. If you are going to go down, go down fighting.

Is Conservatism Finished? (Exerpt)
By Wilfred M. McClay From issue: January 2007
Commentary Magazine

“One particularly notable gesture of disaffection appeared on the very eve of the election, when, in a symposium titled “Time for Us to Go,” a group of seven self-identified conservative writers were moved to publish, in the liberal Washington Monthly, their reasons why the Republicans deserved to lose. While not exactly the “A” list of conservative minds, these writers, ranging from Christopher Buckley to Joe Scarborough (the former Florida Congressman turned talk-TV host), urged the defeat of their party for the sake, precisely, of the future health of conservatism itself. But their words contributed mightily to a growing general impression: that after a run of two decades or so, conservatism’s day in the American political sun was drawing to a close.

For liberal Democrats, this was a termination devoutly to be wished. So intense, indeed, was the pent-up need of the Democratic party and its media allies for a victory dance in the end zone that the high-stepping began long before any touchdowns had actually been scored. The columnist Joe Klein’s exultant observation in Time just prior to the elections—“2006 may be remembered as the year that the Reagan Revolution finally crested and began to recede”—was just one of hundreds of such gun-jumping predictions.

Yet it is now clear that the results of the vote, while a solid reversal not seen since the more epochal mid-term Republican victories of 1994, hardly justified this extravagance. In comparison with similar historical circumstances, the GOP’s losses were quite modest, leaving the Democrats with only relatively thin majorities in both houses of Congress. This was all the more impressive given the pervasive national mood of discouragement over the war in Iraq. Nor did anything about the GOP losses justify the claim that conservatism lost, or that the slow movement of the American electorate to the center-Right of the political spectrum has stopped or even diminished, let alone reversed.

Some Republican defeats, for example, including that of the liberal Republican Senator Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, effected no change in the ideological balance and can hardly be seen as a setback for conservatism. On the Democratic side, meanwhile, the remarkably easy triumph of the highly-targeted, much-reviled Senator Joseph Lieberman over his more liberal anti-war challenger was a bellwether. So too were the Senate victories of such relatively conservative Democrats as James Webb in Virginia and Robert Casey, Jr. in Pennsylvania. There was also the surprisingly strong showing of Harold Ford, Jr., the Democratic Congressman who promised Tennesseans that if they elected him to the Senate, they would get “a gun-loving, Jesus-loving American who thinks that taxes ought to be lower and America ought to be stronger.” In the event, most Tennesseans were not quite willing to buy that assertion, but there can be no doubt that they took Ford seriously in offering it….”

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