"Get back, get back. Get back to where you once belonged." - The Beatles
The Republican Party is in distress. Doomsayers are everywhere. Republican National Committee Chairman Robert M. Duncan complains that conservative, pro-life, pro-gun Democrats won three special elections by stealing GOP issues.
"We can't let the Democrats take our issues," Duncan told the New York Times. "We can't let them pretend to be conservatives and co-opt the middle and win these elections. We have to get the attention of our incumbents and candidates and make sure they understand this."
Democrats didn't steal your issues, sir. You abandoned them. Your party discarded them. Democrats simply engaged in dumpster harvesting.
Unable to win by labeling Democrats "liberals," Republicans don't know what to do. Labeling worked before. Why isn't it working now? The answer is that it only works in combination with superior ideas, which you then contrast to those of your "liberal" opponent. You can't do that credibly unless you have embraced those ideas and sought to implement them. Republicans traded in their ideas in favor of gaining and keeping power as their sole objective. The party wants credit for giving lip service to its abandoned ideology while it practices cave-in politics.
John McCain has promised to bring Democrats into his Cabinet and work with Democrats in Congress. Does that mean ideas don't matter? Does it mean that when Democrats disagree with him he will embrace their ideas just to get along? If so, why should voters vote Republican? They might as well vote for Democrats and get their liberalism straight-up.
Which of the principles articulated by Ronald Reagan, and the conservative revolution he led, does the GOP believe has failed? Lower taxes? Reduced spending and smaller government? Self-reliance? Strong defense? Defeating our enemies so they will fear and respect us, instead of appeasing them in hopes that they might like us? If such principles remain valid, why don't more Republicans articulate them?
I asked Rep. Mike Pence, Indiana Republican, about this. Pence is one of the shrinking number of Republicans who still has principles on which he stands. What is his vision for a GOP resurgence?
"My vision for renewing our party in 2008," he said, "is the same as it was when I ran (unsuccessfully) for Leader after the 2006 elections: I believe the way back to a Republican Majority is to the Right."
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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