Craig Shirley

In the movie, A League of Their Own, Tom Hanks was given two of the best lines in the history of baseball flicks. The first, as we all know, was, "There's no crying in baseball!" The second came when one of his players quit the game, telling Hanks it was "too hard." Hanks's brilliant response: "It's supposed to be hard. If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it. Hard is what makes it great."

With the midterm elections almost upon us, conservatives need to take that to heart. They won't win by quitting. The Washington Post declared last week that Demo crats are "prettier" than Republicans--"Democrats seem to be fielding an uncommonly high number of uncommonly good-looking candidates" (glad we've got that settled!)--so let's focus on the important differences between the parties.

Yes, some Republicans have abused their charge; some have engaged in corrupt behavior; some have violated conservative principles; some don't even know why they are Republicans. And yes, many in the "base" are angry with . . . take your pick: growth of government, spending, corruption, steel tariffs, illegal immigration, McCain-Feingold, Mark Foley, the war in Iraq.

I suspect that most of those people in the GOP who are most upset are not Security Moms or the religious right but the "angry white males" credited with delivering Congress to the GOP in 1994. These middle class dads became increasingly repelled by Bill and Hillary and the seedy liberals who came to dominate the Democratic party. Now, some are frustrated with the GOP.

But consider this, my fellow angry white middle-aged males: Ever since economic libertarians and social conservatives came together to form a majority party, the Republicans have thrived on vigorous internal debates. It is not a weakness of the GOP that some of its members are at daggers drawn over foreign policy and national defense, economic policies, and the federal role in education. Whether or not the GOP majority survives the November elections, these debates will take place.

And in this, populist conservatives should take great comfort. Republicans are not so confident about themselves as to believe they have all the correct answers all the time. Conservatives are so suspicious of man's nature that they naturally shun claims of absolute certitude in politics.


Craig Shirley

Craig Shirley is the president of the President of Shirley & Banister Public Affairs and the author of two books on the 40th president, Reagan's Revolution and Rendezvous with Destiny.