Crawling out of the woodwork offering their unsolicited "advice" are the usual GOP establishment voices, many of whom pushed the unsuccessful candidate on us in the primaries, who think (as they did in 2008) that the winning idea is to sell out our principles.
Bill Kristol of The Weekly Standard is ready to cave in on increasing taxes (in a down economy, of all times). Others are saying social conservatives need to be excluded, as well as a surrender on social issues like gay marriage and abortion. Still, others say amnesty of illegal aliens needs to be done. There's a lot of that going on from GOP elites who attack conservatives on the drop of a dime. I'm looking at you, David Frum! He got the candidate he wanted a year ago (Romney), but blames conservatives for his loss.
Then there's McCain 2008 Campaign wonk Steve Schmidt, who said:
To too many swing voters in the country when you hear the word "conservative," now they think of loons and wackos. We gave up five US Senate seats over the last two election cycles by people who were just out there, completely extreme, manifestly unprepared for the offices that they're running for. Our elected leaders are scared to death of the conservative entertainment complex, the shrill and divisive voices that are bombastic and broadcasting out into the homes. And this country is rejecting the social extremism of the Republican Party on issue after issue.Of course, not only is Schmidt conservative talk radio (Rush, Hannity, Levin, et al) but he sounds like a liberal as well with his Tea Party bashing. It must be noted Schmidt, like Frum, is a conservative basher, he is the snake who has viciously attacked Sarah Palin in press since the 08 campaign. I guess it proves that losers like to blame their failings on others. So why should the GOP take advice from a loser like Steve Schmidt?
It seems to me that Tuesday's loss is more of a result when our side runs a candidate who has never been a conservative, and who is not comfortable convincing others he is. I shuddered at CPAC 2012 when I heard Mitt Romney say he had a "severely conservative" record as Governor of Massachusetts, because it didn't seem authentic. This is a turning point for not just the GOP, but the nation. If this nation is to survive, and get back to what made us prosperous and the hope of the world, then the GOP needs to emulate what made them a winning party.
So, I say let's go back to Ronald Reagan, because, just as is being done today, the same calls for moderation by the GOP Country Club elites happened in the mid-1970s to the Republican Party. Reagan not only talked openly about it, he confronted it head on. At CPAC in 1975 he ended his speech by saying:
A political party cannot be all things to all people. It must represent certain fundamental beliefs which must not be compromised to political expediency, or simply to swell its numbers.He continued that theme in a 1975 video for Young Americans for Freedom.
Two years later, Reagan followed up that CPAC address with one entitled The New Republican Party. If there are answers to be found for making the Republican Party a winning party again, then Reagan's advice in this speech needs to be paid attention to. Read the whole address, but I'm going to focus on the following excerpt:
I have to say I cannot agree with some of my friends -- perhaps including some of you here tonight -- who have answered that question by saying this nation needs a new political party.
I respect that view and I know that those who have reached it have done so after long hours of study. But I believe that political success of the principles we believe in can best be achieved in the Republican Party. I believe the Republican Party can hold and should provide the political mechanism through which the goals of the majority of Americans can be achieved. For one thing, the biggest single grouping of conservatives is to be found in that party. It makes more sense to build on that grouping than to break it up and start over. Rather than a third party, we can have a new first party made up of people who share our principles. I have said before that if a formal change in name proves desirable, then so be it. But tonight, for purpose of discussion, I’m going to refer to it simply as the New Republican Party.
And let me say so there can be no mistakes as to what I mean: The New Republican Party I envision will not be, and cannot, be one limited to the country club-big business image that, for reasons both fair and unfair, it is burdened with today. The New Republican Party I am speaking about is going to have room for the man and the woman in the factories, for the farmer, for the cop on the beat and the millions of Americans who may never have thought of joining our party before, but whose interests coincide with those represented by principled Republicanism. If we are to attract more working men and women of this country, we will do so not by simply "making room" for them, but by making certain they have a say in what goes on in the party. The Democratic Party turned its back on the majority of social conservatives during the 1960s. The New Republican Party of the late ’70s and ’80s must welcome them, seek them out, enlist them, not only as rank-and-file members but as leaders and as candidates.
The time has come for Republicans to say to black voters: "Look, we offer principles that black Americans can, and do, support." We believe in jobs, real jobs; we believe in education that is really education; we believe in treating all Americans as individuals and not as stereotypes or voting blocs -- and we believe that the long-range interest of black Americans lies in looking at what each major party has to offer, and then deciding on the merits. The Democratic Party takes the black vote for granted. Well, it’s time black America and the New Republican Party move toward each other and create a situation in which no black vote can be taken for granted.
The New Republican Party I envision is one that will energetically seek out the best candidates for every elective office, candidates who not only agree with, but understand, and are willing to fight for a sound, honest economy, for the interests of American families and neighborhoods and communities and a strong national defense. And these candidates must be able to communicate those principles to the American people in language they understand. Inflation isn’t a textbook problem. Unemployment isn’t a textbook problem. They should be discussed in human terms.Isnt' this where our problem lies? There's been too much preaching to the choir but our candidates stopped educating Americans about conservatism, thus letting liberals and the GOP establishment falsely define us.
This next line is important, and a key point to remember.
Our candidates must be willing to communicate with every level of society, because the principles we espouse are universal and cut across traditional lines. In every Congressional district there should be a search made for young men and women who share these principles and they should be brought into positions of leadership in the local Republican Party groups. We can find attractive, articulate candidates if we look, and when we find them, we will begin to change the sorry state of affairs that has led to a Democratic-controlled Congress for more than 40 years. I need not remind you that you can have the soundest principles in the world, but if you don't have candidates who can communicate those principles, candidates who are articulate as well as principled, you are going to lose election after election. I refuse to believe that the good Lord divided this world into Republicans who defend basic values and Democrats who win elections. We have to find tough, bright young men and women who are sick and tired of cliches and the pomposity and the mind-numbing economic idiocy of the liberals in Washington.
What Reagan is saying is that so-called "outreach" doesn't mean selling out your principles and becoming "Democrat-lite." Instead, it is reaching out to voters, regardless of party, who not only share conservative values, but articulate them in a way that gets people to vote for them. At the beginning of the aforementioned speech, Reagan had noted a Harris poll that stated most Americans shared conservative or "right of center" values. The same is true today, as pointed out last week. All the Steve Schmidts, David Frums, Bill Krystols and Lindsey Grahamnestys are only interested in doing is blurring the differences between the two parties, so that voters cannot tell the difference between them. Why vote for "socialism-lite" when there's no real difference between it and "socialism?"
But keep in mind, Reagan's words weren't just theory on how to win. He had experience proving that it worked, winning the governor's mansion in California (twice) and winning two of the biggest landslide Presidential elections in recent history (1980 and 1984). It was only after Reagan left office that the Republican Party, under George H.W. Bush, began it's slide back towards the GOP Country Club establishment that always wants to "moderate" or "go along to get along."
It's important to note that, while he is a revered figure in the GOP today, Reagan was not looked upon favorably by the same GOP establishment that attacks the Tea Party as "hobbits," and doesn't stand up for great conservatives like Allen West, Michele Bachmann or Sarah Palin when they are viciously attacked. Because all the establishment cares about is their own power, and keeping it any way they can. They'll even accept a little bit of statism if it means electoral power.
But they ignore at their own risk what Reagan knew, and why he succeeded, is that the individual--not some political party or leader--is what makes this nation work and what made it great.
If the Republican Party wants to be a majority and a winning party, that's what they need to do. And if they cannot, then I say (as Reagan did) "let them go their way."