No Triangulation Now

Dick Morris and Eileen McGann

5/11/2009 12:01:00 AM - Dick Morris and Eileen McGann

Despite Gen. Colin Powell's advice that the Republican Party must move to the center, now is not the time for triangulation by the GOP. It is, rather, the time for the Party to stand firm and fast upon its principles and let this nation come around to its way of thinking, driven by horror at the consequences of Obama's program.

The leftist challenge brought by Obama is no longer a theoretical one to be parried by adroit positioning. He means to pass the ultimate left agenda and has the votes to do so. When he is finished -- well before the 2010 elections -- our nation will be unrecognizable. Business will march to a beat drummed in Washington. Those who produce the most will be hounded by confiscatory taxation. A majority will pay nothing and receive government welfare. Our health care system will be destroyed. Illegal immigrants will be well on their way to citizenship.

The 2010 elections will not be fought based on debate or rhetoric. They will be waged over the consequences of Obama's brave new world. We believe that these results will be disastrous and his Congress will be swept from power as a result. We think that the recession will linger only to be joined by inflation -- a recess-flation -- and that high unemployment will continue. Voters will recognize the damage to their health care as bureaucrats weigh in to prevent them from getting the care they need. All America will be alive to the fallout from the Obama program. Our security and defense failures may well have cost us Pakistan and the nightmare of a nuclear-armed terrorist state may have already happened (not in Iran but in Pakistan).

Only if Republicans are seen as a clear alternative, a clarion voice for reversal of the harm Obama will have inflicted upon the country, will they be able to benefit from this catastrophe. If the GOP is seen as a moderate force, splitting the difference, voters will cynically conclude that there is no distinction between the parties. Just look at how the Bush administration seemed to be a puppet of the Democrats in its last few months.

There is a season for triangulation and a season for confrontation. When America faces a new challenge -- as the financial crisis and deep recession now pose -- we look to the left and to the right for alternatives, for new answers. We want the debate to rage. Those who seek to paper over or split the difference are ignored. Such was the fate of Bush Sr. in 1992 or of McCain in 2008.

But once the debate has raged and the alternatives have been fleshed out, voters want a consensus, a Hegelian synthesis, to move in a new direction. They want to extract the best from each alternative and combine these ingredients in a new solution. This is the process Dick labeled triangulation. To ignore the demand for synthesis and to insist on continuing the debate is to suffer the fate of Dole in 1996 and Kerry in 2004.

This process of polarization, debate, synthesis and action is how America has always moved ahead. Because we are not Japan, we use the debate to see the options. And because we are not Italy or France, we come to conclusions and act upon them, leaving the debate far behind.

Now a great debate has been born. The thesis is Democratic Socialism. The antithesis is free-market capitalism. The Obama Democrats have posed the challenge. It is now up to the Republicans to pick it up and fight along these lines. Compromise is not an option, yet. At some point, the synthesis will set in. But now is the time for clear alternatives and sharp disagreement. Only then can we hope to extract America from the clutches into which it has fallen.