Has the GOP Learned Anything from Recent Electoral Debacles?
Shouldn’t a worthwhile party have a clearly defined and well articulated purpose for being? Something better than avoiding political oblivion or being the party of “not them”? There are so many Democrat initiatives frightening people today: government power and control, fiscal bankruptcy, war, dilution of the American heritage, on and on, all of which are thought to be in direct conflict with the beliefs of the GOP. Isn’t it reasonable to expect a forceful GOP leadership, armed with a strong sense of purpose, would be up front leading the principled opposition both in the chamber and loudly in every public forum? I guess I missed them.
There is a saying: When the trumpeter blows an uncertain note the troops are slow to follow. The GOP lacks both notes and trumpeters and therefore no one is following. A wave of anti-democrat and anti-incumbent voting may benefit them, but as before they will fail in governing without a central purpose.
May I be so bold as to suggest the most obvious one? How about a return to the words of maybe the greatest Republican, Abraham Lincoln, when at Gettysburg he called for us to rededicate ourselves to “a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth. “
Our founding principles of freedom, equality, and the rights of the individual are simple, clear, and overwhelmingly desired. A party standing strong on a renewed dedication to liberty of the individual, applied particularly to economic and personal choice issues like health care, is what the nation is shouting for, praying for, and punishing incumbents for not advancing. Most of the voting nation realizes there is no chance to reverse the downward direction of the country without a revival or replacement of the GOP. It is abundantly clear that, with the focus of the people on fiscal and economic issues, there is an overwhelming desire for real Republican Party values to be ascendant. Yet at a time they should be heroes the party continues to thrash about in blind self-doubt.
Leading with purpose means a whole new approach. Instead of saying “vote for us because we oppose ObamaCare!” what should be said is: “We are the party dedicated to individual freedom and ObamaCare is an assault on that freedom. Vote for us because we will do all in our power to defeat it.” Not a small difference. Instead, when the issue of repealing ObamaCare comes up, the GOP’s message is, as usual, muddled and uncertain.
The GOP is supposed to be different, a party driven by principles and beliefs. They desire to be so most times, but they are also woefully inadequate in resolve. At a time when we need strong visible leaders we have Kirks, Snowes, and Grahams. The electorate knows what the GOP is supposed to stand for and they resent the fact that they waiver so easily. This is why Reagan was so popular and why he is so sorely missed.
Finally, every GOP officeholder needs to understand that functional leadership is as a party and without strong unity they can never move forward. As it is today, whenever a GOP member of the Congress makes a strong statement or takes a harder conservative line, like maybe Joe Barton or Jim Bunning, the base cheers wildly while the party leaders run in predictable Pavlovian fashion to publicly denounce their own and to distance themselves from them. In dividing themselves in such a prideless fashion, they again prove the lack of conviction that drives respect for the GOP ever lower despite 70+% disillusionment for the other side. Decide on your purpose, wear it with pride and enthusiasm, and stick together to support each other. People will see and respect that.
A cleaned house; new leadership with courage and unshakeable convictions to principles instead of feigned populism; and a rededication to founding principles, stated proudly and with no apologies everywhere possible by a unified party. Few are enthused by the party as it currently exists, but the time is past right for a revolution within the party -- and without.