The Brand is Tarnished, but the Principles are Solid
By: Guest Authors
By Richard Geno
In recent weeks, there has been a great deal of discussion as to what the Republican Party should do to once again control Congress, and challenge for the White House in 2012. One only need to read the results from a Gallup Poll from May, 2009, which asked respondents to state their party affiliation. It showed Republican 32%, Democrat 32% and independent 34%. The Gallup Poll is the oldest political polling organization, and the institution that practically coined the word “Poll.”
In just six months, the Gallup polling showed that the GOP had improved its standing by 6% while the Democrats had lost seven points of support. In a Pew Research Center Poll, conducted in March, 2009, they asked respondents if we are better off “in a free market economy” even though there may be severe ups and downs from time to time. Despite being in the middle of one of the biggest down markets in seven decades, a reassuring 70% agreed that we were better off with a free market economy while only 20% disagreed.
With all due respect, what is a “big tent”? Does that mean that we attempt to get votes by saying anything to get elected? California Governor Schwarzenegger was elected under a “big tent.” What has that gotten us as fiscal conservatives? The “big tent” philosophy has elected United States senators like Arlen Specter, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe. Our “big tent” approach elected each of them; and what did they do when one of the most defining issues – the 2009 “Stimulus” bill – was voted upon? They abandoned the “big tent;” and voted the wrong way in one of the most important votes in recent history. Worse yet, this trio represented the deciding votes, without which the bill would not have passed.
Most of the leading countries around the world are opening up to more free enterprise. In Asia, Singapore and Hong Kong are more capitalistic than the United States; and they continue to thrive. Even the growth the past decade in China has been due to the opening of free market principles. There are far more billionaires in Shanghai than in New York or Chicago.
Even Obama’s role model – the European Union – has recently expressed a continent-wide rejection of left-wing opponents in every nation (except Greece). In France, Germany and Italy, ruling center-right coalitions have been elected in recent years, and they have strengthened their standing with the public. Opposition conservatives have gained significant ground in Great Britain and Spain. In Hungary, a former Soviet bloc country, the Socialist Party drew only 17% of the vote in recent elections while the conservative party garnered 56%.
It is a question of statism, bureaucracy, special interests, big government and rationing of health care compared to freedom, liberty, limited government, free markets and strong national defense. Those happen to be the principles of the Republican Party. It was also these principles that elected and re-elected people like Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan. If we build the tent, they will come.
For those who use the term “big tent,” they tend to feel that we have to cater to the squishy moderates who stand for nothing. If we espouse true conservatism, we can win elections in 60-70% of the congressional districts in America. These “big tent” advocates are obviously still watching entirely too much CNN and network news where they deliver the news with innuendo and thinly-veiled bias.
It is liberals who keep harping about how the Republican Party needs to move to the middle or create a “bigger tent.” That is safe for them because they know that the ideals of freedom, limited government and free markets will swamp their statist candidates. Besides, they would rather have a choice between a left-wing Democrat and a liberal Republican. That is the choice the media guided us towards for the presidency in 2008. They preferred the socialist, but they could accept the progressive. On the other hand, we had a choice between bad and terrible, and we got terrible.
Now we are living with the consequences of that awful choice. Thomas Jefferson said, “To compel a man to subsidize with his taxes the propagation of ideas which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.” That is what we are living with right now. No half-Socialist is going to save us. We can only support those who believe in the principles of the Republican Party – freedom, liberty, limited government, free markets and a strong national defense. Between 60-70% of Americans believe in these principles. It is up to us to articulate this message, not go looking for Democrat-lite ideas to get elected.