Who Will Lead the Country Back to the Basics?

There is a movement to encourage consensus by getting widespread conservative agreement on the Mount Vernon Statement. Here are the guts of it:

A Constitutional conservatism unites all conservatives through the natural fusion provided by American principles. It reminds economic conservatives that morality is essential to limited government, social conservatives that unlimited government is a threat to moral self-government, and national security conservatives that energetic but responsible government is the key to America’s safety and leadership role in the world.

Even though I am not sure about the "leadership role in the world" bit except as it relates to America's safety, I like it for most of the reasons Rick Moran doesn't. There is another movement which has drafted a contract from America which proposes twenty separate proposals to be voted on and posted on April 15; they all appear to be subsumed within the three basic points of the Mount Vernon Statement. If either movement is to succeed, the focus has to be on the major issues as to which there is substantial unity: respect for the Constitution, America's safety, and minimal governmental meddling. The focus cannot be allowed to slide to more contentious issues such as abortion, gay marriage, "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," and the like. There are many who support respect for the Constitution, America's safety, and minimal governmental meddling but who also favor abortion rights; there are some agnostics and I am one of them. There are also homosexual conservatives; if they support the basic goals, they should not be excluded. We need their support. Once there is a responsible and responsive government, these issues can be debated. The best place to do it would be at the state level; the states are diverse and their residents -- not the federal government -- should govern them.

Senator McCain says he also hopes to have a ten-point Republican manifesto this spring; time and the country have passed him by and it's probably too late for that. He should find an enjoyable pasture to which he can retire. Rinoville should be a pleasant place; Obamaville looks like another promising choice.

Lieutenant Colonel Allen West, a candidate in Florida's 22nd Congressional District, or someone like him may be what we eventually need. He generally has been flying under the radar but that may change. This rather bombastic video has already had over two million viewers. According to James Lewis, West "is an adult who can make a moral decision under immense pressure. Far too many of our politicians just slip around real moral decisions; those are the people we don't need as leaders."

Here is a twenty minute lecture by Colonel West about terrorism and Afghanistan. Others may have said some of the same things, but none whom I can recall have said them as well; I certainly have not heard comparable good sense coming from the White House, President Obama's security advisors, or the leaders of either major party. They are effectively muzzled by the need to be all things to all people while offending none. As a consequence of this process, the basic principles have been buried out of sight and out of mind under a vast mountain of junk.

This time, perhaps we can get it right; we had better. If a basic conservative is to become a viable presidential candidate for 2012, it's already high time to think about it. One will emerge soon enough; too soon and he will be a lightning rod.

If the focus is on 2012, as I think it should be, it is not necessary for the Republicans to win control of the legislature this year, and it may not happen in any event. True, it is generally better and more satisfying to win than to lose. However, sometimes it is necessary to focus on the war rather on the immediate battle and thereby to sacrifice one objective in favor of other, more important basic objectives. Heresy of heresy, perhaps it might even be better if the Republicans didn't win a majority in 2010 and sat proudly in an increased number of cheap seats for a little while longer. A "Hail Mary" pass perhaps, but if they do win a significant majority in 2010 it might well pave the way for another conciliatory middle of the road candidate in 2012; then, next verse, same as the first. Not a good thing.

Even if the Republicans do win majorities in both houses of Congress, they are very unlikely to win veto-proof majorities. President Obama can quite effectively disparage, and compensate for, congressional "obstructionism" by issuing executive orders regardless of whether the Republicans gain a simple majority or remain in the minority. The more ill-advised executive orders he issues, and the more harmful regulatory actions "his" regulatory agencies take -- and we ain't seen nothin' yet -- the more good red meat the conservatives will have in 2012 when it really matters.

Sometimes chemotherapy cures cancer and sometimes it doesn't. It is unpleasant and often is a last resort; that seems to be where we presently are. With a strong conservative minority in the Congress and looking toward 2012, the Republicans -- allied with the amorphous "tea baggers" but neither absorbing the other into oblivion -- can help to point the country in a positive direction. If sufficient others sniff the wind and go along with them, President Obama may come to be seen as the overreaching "president of no!" There is nothing particularly dynamic about just say no; should that happen, President Obama's chances of winning reelection will be further diminished and the chances of a real honest to goodness basic conservative becoming the president in 2013 will be enhanced.

I hope that the Republican Party does not get bogged down in following a "safe and moderate path." If it does, the tea party movement must follow it neither into oblivion nor into ruinous infighting. The conservatives shouldn't take positions calculated to alienate other conservatives who share their basic principles but don't agree on some of the ancillary issues. The overriding basic and common issues are respect for the Constitution, America's safety, and minimal governmental meddling. Those should be the focus and they should be sufficient.

President Obama won the 2008 election on a platform of hope and change. He has brilliantly albeit inadvertently demonstrated that the need for both is far greater now than it was in 2008. If the incubus of leftist control is to be felled and the country is to revive, substantial change is needed. We need to do more than hope for it, and are unlikely to get it if the focus this year is on short-term goals.