Republicans come to a fork in the road
By: Robert E. Meyer
In the wake of the November electionâ€™s repudiation of Republicans, there is a controversy among pundits about what Republicans need to do to stage a legislative comeback, much less, avoid extinction from the political landscape.
First off, letâ€™s be perfectly clear. Whenever an opponent suggests something so drastic, such as, that the conservative movement is dead in America, you can bet the hubris of those prognostications will be the stumbling block that ultimately makes the current liberal wave, a short-lived cultural tsunami.
But the general controversy is in deciding whether the Republican Party needs to moderate its current social platform, or instead needs to purge the moderates, fence-sitters and “RINOâ€™s,” for a platform espousing traditional conservatism that is clearly and confidently articulated.
My lot is cast with the second choice. If political leaders want to attract a larger, more diverse constituency by basically standing for nothing, why shouldnâ€™t the idealist go with the Democratic platform to participate in the more potent liberalism, rather than watered down versions of the failed policies he/she yearns for?
The wrong-headed view is a story-line that goes something like this: The Republicans must jettison the influence of the “religious right” zealots, which for a recent number of years have hijacked the party.
The people expressing this story line have short-term memories. Evangelical Christians were enamoured with the Democratic nominee in 1976, Jimmy Carter. But after his disastrous and disappointing presidency, evangelicals migrated to support the Republicans, who under Ronald Reagan, promoted a platform that attracted values voters in large numbers. If party officials snub this important portion of the base, they will find themselves back in the Goldwater dessert of 1964.
The other choice is much better. As a conservative, I have never wavered in the conviction that we lay claim to the better ideas, the more sound and rational ideological positions. What we are lacking is the statesmen to effectually articulate those ideas, and the willful conviction to implement and execute those precepts into public policy. Furthermore, we need a scheme of appropriate methods and means to compete in the 21st century political marketplace.
In the last election, Obama had the logistics and the message to harness the enthusiasm of young Americans. The Republicans seemed to ignore that entire approach, while Obama capitalized on the blind spot.
It’s well beyond the scope of a short piece like this to analyze policy strategy and lay it out in great detail, but I can cite an example that will help advance the conversation.
Obama attracted young voters. Young voters pay into Social Security, but in large numbers, assume they will never collect future benefits. For such a constituency, the proposal of personalized Social Security accounts should be a winning ticket, since it contains the promise of a future benefit that the current system can’t seem to confidently secure. In spite of that fact, the issue hardly was brought up in the recent presidential debates and, the Democrats have owned the issue by using it to scare senior citizens.
When we take a deep breath and stop snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, we will be on the way to another Reagan revolution.