What real change looks like

November 29, 2008

Surveying the political landscape, it is easy for conservatives to become, shall we say, disillusioned. The recent electoral slaughter notwithstanding, conservative principles have been on the decline for quite some time. Even the Republican Party, supposed to be the party of conservatism, has abandoned a conservative method of governance for one that represents simply a watered-down version of the agenda of their Democratic counterparts.

In fact, I would submit that this is precisely the reason for the defeat at the polls of so many Republicans. The Republican Party has been tarnished by a lack of conviction. Rather than sticking to a core set of values and proposing solutions to America’s problems based on those values, Republicans have for years been simply reacting to the proposals of Democrats with a “lite” version of whatever their idea is.

So the people have spoken, and they want “change.” Here, however, is the golden opportunity for conservatives. The change represented by the new Democratic majorities in Congress and their President-elect doesn’t appear to be change at all. Rather, the “change” coming to Washington is, in fact, a furtherance of the policies that have been implemented in this country for decades. Granted, Obama and the Democrats will likely implement these policies to an extreme not heretofore presented, but they are still the same policies that we’ve seen for decades.

Bad economy? Spend more government money. Energy policy? Go green. Foreign policy? Make nice with the enemy. Taxes? Raise ’em. And on and on it goes. Every single policy idea being proposed by the Democrats at this juncture is nothing but a regurgitation of a policy that has either been tried or proposed for a long, long time.

So what would real change look like? Real change would be a return to the principles that made this country great, not a continuance of the failed policies of the past. Real change would be a complete turnaround from the decline toward Socialism that this country has been undertaking. Revamping major, failing government programs such as Social Security and our education policy would be real change. Advancing the narrative that America works best when it’s Americans doing the work, rather than the government, would represent real change. Ending the lifestyle of career politicians would be real change.

Conservatives have an opportunity to change the narrative, and it is one that we can ill afford to squander. We must not be in denial about the fact that the people are demanding change, we just need to present them with the change that they desire. Americans are instinctively conservative. They don’t like government meddling in the personal affairs and are offended at the idea that they cannot take care of themselves and so the government must interfere. Conservatives must begin right now by triangulating, in the mold of Dick Morris, the Democrat’s message and pointing out to the people of this country that furthering the decline of this country is not, in fact, real change.

It is a Herculean task, as the media is against us. However, if conservatives want to stop the decimation of not only our values but the country in general, it is a task that they must undertake with fervor. Our ideas win when we adhere to them and present them to the electorate in the form of real solutions. We must get to work advancing our cause and our ideas, before the entrenched liberal policies of the past become the standard by which everything is measured.


Sanford on the future of the GOP

November 29, 2008

South Caroline Governor Mark Sanford, writing in Politico, pretty accurately assesses both the problems currently facing the GOP as well as the solutions.

First, why we lost (emphasis mine):

Our party took nothing short of a shellacking nationally. Some on the left will say our electoral losses are a repudiation of our principles of lower taxes, smaller government and individual liberty. But Election Day was not a rejection of those principles — in fact, cutting taxes and spending were important tenets of Barack Obama’s campaign.

Instead, voters rejected the fact that while Republicans have campaigned on the conservative themes of lower taxes, less government and more freedom, they have consistently failed to govern that way. Americans didn’t turn away from conservatism, they instead turned away from many who faked it.

This, as they say, hits the nail right on the head.  As I’ve said before, it wasn’t our principles that were reject but rather politicians who failed to adhere to those principles.  The public just doesn’t trust the GOP to do what it says anymore.

Sanford proposes three steps to winning back the electorate.  Allow me to focus on the second (again, emphasis mine):

Second, our loyalties need to be to ideas, not to individuals. Ted Stevens in many ways personified the opposite of what the GOP is supposed to be about, reveling in his ability to secure pork and turning a blind eye to ethical lapses.

There needs to be a high standard for our franchisees. In other words, I believe Republicans and conservatives must agree on our core principles. St. Augustine called for ‘unity in the essentials, diversity in the nonessentials, and charity in all things,’ and while I believe there should always be a big GOP tent, there must also be a shared agreement on the essentials — including expanding liberty, encouraging entrepreneurship and limiting the reach of government in people’s everyday lives.

In this regard, the tent cannot be so big as to include political franchisees who don’t act on the core tenets of conservatism — and as a consequence harm the brand and undermine others’ work on it.

There really is only one political party in Washington: the incumbents.  The GOP needs to stop shying away from primary battles where staunch conservatives challenge entrenched, liberal Republicans.  The party needs to embrace the primary process and use it to cultivate a Republican Party that actually adheres to core principles.

What’s the difference between Huck and Palin?

November 25, 2008

Huckabee thinks the only real differences between himself and Sarah Palin are cosmetic.  Ed Morissey over at Hot Air has much more regarding their similarities and differences.  I think that Morissey gets to the heart of it all here:

But I digress. His suggestion that he and Palin are no different is false, but surely they’re not so different that one should be heralded as the second coming of Reagan while the other’s name is practically an epithet to huge swaths of our readership. Exit question: How’d that happen?

I’ll take this thinking a step farther and apply it to Ron Paul.  Why would someone who is pro-life, pro-gun, anti-small government and basically represents everything that the Republicans are supposed to believe be ridiculed and chastised by “conservatives” everywhere as being a radical lunatic?

The bottom line is that it all comes down to perceptions.  No one wanted Ron Paul in the primary pointing out all of the times that his colleagues had failed to adhere to conservative principles.  Similarly, no one wanted Huckabee in the primary doing basically the same thing.  It’s kind of like hanging out with people who are less attractive than you in order to make yourself look better.

The GOP wouldn’t have these kinds of problems if we would stop selecting candidates that we think are more politically viable (how did that work out, by the way?) and would instead pick candidates that represent our core values.  Instead of running from our principles, and chastising any politician that represents them, we should be embracing them.  The path that we’re on now simply feeds into the narrative of the left that our values are radical and not supported by the American people.  If we call them crazy, what must everyone else think about them?

Doing good with other people’s money

November 24, 2008

From Carpe Diem, P.J. O’Rourke on charity.

There is no virtue in compulsory government charity, and there is no virtue in advocating it. A politician who portrays himself as “caring” and “sensitive” because he wants to expand the government’s charitable programs is merely saying that he’s willing to try to do good with other people’s money. Well, who isn’t? And a voter who takes pride in supporting such programs is telling us that he’ll do good with his own money – if a gun is held to his head.

Unfortunately, it is both political parties that are guilty of such thinking.

How Republicans recover

November 23, 2008

There is some discussion over at The Next Right regarding a symposium on the future of the Republican party held by the Politico’s Arena.  For my thoughts, simply see my post below.

It’s a trust thing

November 23, 2008

Ramesh Ponnuru, writing in Time, does a pretty good job of assessing the current state of the Republican Party.

Republicans are feuding in the wake of the November election. But they are not descending into civil war. That would be too tidy. What is unfolding instead is an overlapping series of Republican civil wars, each with its own theme.

Ponnuru then goes on to explain the various positions being taken up by the different “factions” of the party and comes to the conclusion that we need to begin basically updating our message and our ideas to meet the times.  While this idea has some merit, I think that it misses the larger point of why Republicans lost.

As Ponnuru points out, the electorate rejected both pro-choice and pro-life candidates.  They rejected Republicans that were guilty of big spending and those that were more frugal and responsible.  They rejected Republicans of all stripes on all issues.  Basically, they rejected Republicans in general.

What would cause the electorate to so roundly reject the entire party, regardless of beliefs, convictions or voting records?  Trust.  It’s not the Republican message that was rejected or the Republican ideals.  What was rejected was a party that said one thing and did something quite different.  The belief that Republicans no longer really stand for anything is what led to widespread defeat at the polls.  Obama and the Democrats at least represented a known enemy, whereas Republicans have become an unknown.

In order to start winning elections again, Republicans must start to hold true to their values.  Party faithful should be ridding themselves of politicians that say one thing and do the opposite, replacing them with candidates of principle.  This is the path to victory for the party.  You can’t simply “rebrand” a bunch of tarnished politicians and hope that this time the voters believe them that they’re for real.  You have to get rid of the problem.

The problem, folks, are the Republican politicians that have held power for so long.

Not change, but more of the same

November 23, 2008

What kind of change can we expect from a President Obama?  Not much.

President-elect Barack Obama has answered bipartisan calls for the disbandment of the White House office central to the Karl Rove-style politics the Democrat condemned as a candidate. The office stays.

Patrick Gaspard, a New Yorker and longtime labor operative, will head the Office of Political Affairs, the Obama transition announced on Friday.

First, let me point out that the fact that it was a Republican that created this office (and the much-revered Reagan, to boot) is despicable.  The government has absolutely no right to confiscate taxpayer money for political purposes.

What do defenders of the office claim it’s value is?

But others, particularly those who’ve served in previous presidential administrations, have defended the office, saying the nation’s chief executive needs someone in the White House to give him a sense of the political impact of policies and legislation.

If you have a President whose staff is unable to “give him a sense of the political impact of policies and legislation,” then you have a pretty incompetent President.

We’ll see much partisan sniping about this office, particularly as it appears that Obama has broken (yet another) campaign promise.  However, what Republicans should be focusing on is the fact that this office should not exist, regardless of who the President is.  Rather than putting all of the attention on Obama’s broken promise, Republicans should be explaining to the American people how they’re being robbed for political purposes.

Of course, the chances of this happening are pretty slim.  To do so would mean criticizing Reagan as well as both Bushes, and we all know that our current GOP won’t criticize one of their own.

H/T: Patterico