The "stupid party" moniker has often been applied to the GOP, but seldom has it been more applicable than it is to today's Republican Party.
The Republican politicians, insulated from the real world in D.C., are too timid to take on the Democrats, too arrogant to listen to their constituents, and have an antagonistic attitude towards the grass roots activists who should be their biggest supporters. No matter how big of a screw-up the Democrats make or how outrageous their behavior is, they can also count on their Republican pals across the aisle to meekly cut them a break while simultaneously going out of their way to irritate conservatives.
Despite the fact that the Democrats in Congress currently have a disapproval rating higher than the GOP numbers before the 2006 election, it's hard to imagine the GOP taking back the House or the Senate in 2008 because you can't beat something with nothing -- and that's what the GOP is offering the American people right now, nothing.
One of the GOP's biggest strengths should be foreign policy. And although we're stuck backing an unpopular war in Iraq right now because it's the right thing to do, it would be fair for people to ask what George Bush is doing about North Korea's nukes or Iran's attacks on our soldiers and march towards nuclear weapons. The answer, as far as anyone can tell, appears to be nada.
Meanwhile, we've got Hezbollah setting up shop in South America and hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens pouring across our Southern borders while the Bush Administration is refusing to build the border wall that was signed into law last year. Moreover, the GOP in the Senate is adding to the problem by preparing to sign onto an illegal immigration amnesty bill, written by Ted Kennedy, that will kill them at the polls in 2008.
Even when it comes to spending and small government, the two areas that should form the backbone of the modern Republican Party, we're seeing very little positive action. George Bush has been the biggest spender ever to sit in the White House and although the GOP has improved marginally in fighting wasteful spending since the Democrats took over, they certainly haven't convinced anyone that they have much in common with the 1994 Republican revolutionaries who were responsible for balancing the budget in the Clinton years.
Then there's our Party leadership.
Although George Bush deserves credit for hanging tough in Iraq even though it would be easier to just pull out, he has become isolated from his base, is pushing a wildly unpopular amnesty bill, and he has allowed himself to be a hapless punching bag for the Democrats. Since 2006, watching the Democrats take on George Bush has been about like watching a pack of lions closing in on a herd full of lame antelope. They're going for the kill, the Bushies are desperately running for their lives, and you want to turn your head away rather than look at the slaughter.
Meanwhile, in the House, John Boehner is pushing a Republican with corruption problems, Ken Calvert, onto the Appropriations Committee over the protests of the Rightroots. In the Senate, Mitch McConnell is preparing the way for Ted Kennedy's amnesty bill. At the Republican National Committee, the RNC Chair, Mel Martinez, has been so invisible compared to his talented predecessor, Ken Mehlman, that I wonder if they've been hiding him in some of the "undisclosed locations" that Dick Cheney spent so much time in during 2004. Additionally, earlier this month over at the NRCC, Tom Cole, the guy who is supposed to be leading the charge to help us take back Congress, had this to say about why we got creamed in 2006,
"Oh, I don't think the problem was spending. People who argue that we lost because we weren't true to our base, that's just wrong."
You ever heard of the Peter Principle? It states that, "In a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence." Well, if you want to see the Peter Principle in action, the GOP's "leaders" in D.C. are as good of an example of it as any.
Now, this is where most people would stop the column because nobody minds battering politicians, but going after some of the rank and file – well, that's going too far. That may be so, but there are a few things that need to be said.
First of all, I'm so sick and tired of people who claim to be "conservatives," but do nothing but incessantly carp about the Republican Party. The GOP does deserve criticism, but if you spend all your time complaining about people who agree with you on 70% of the issues while giving a free pass to liberals who disagree with you on all those same issues and maybe another 60% of the issues besides, you're part of the problem, not part of the solution.
The same goes for people who say they're going to cast a protest vote for the Libertarian Party or Constitution Party. Let me tell you something -- the Libertarian Party and Constitution Party are never going to catch on and the only thing they've ever accomplished was electing liberal Democrats by convincing conservatives to waste their votes. In fact, a person who doesn't vote is smarter than a person who votes for candidates from the Libertarian Party or Constitution Party, because both people wasted their chance to impact who's going to be in power, but the LP or CP voter wasted his time as well by standing in line at the polling place to do it.
Let me also add that we hear a lot of complaining about George Soros, but what people should really be asking is, “Where is the GOP's George Soros?" There are plenty of filthy rich conservatives who want to push the country to the right and are capable of making just as big of an impact as Soros. But, the difference is that Soros puts his money where his mouth is and a lot of wealthy conservatives don't. Don't the Democrats always say we're the party of fatcats? Well, now would be a great time for some of them to get more involved in helping out the conservative grassroots.
Speaking of which, the Democrats are absolutely murdering the GOP in online fund raising. Know why? Because too many people who have built big conservative audiences don't want to do exactly the same kind of fund raising for the GOP that liberal blogs like the Daily Kos do for the Democrats. There are conservative talk show hosts, blogs, and magazines that could generate millions of dollars for Republican candidates they approve of and simultaneously increase their influence in Washington, by raising money for the GOP. That would mean more Republicans in office and more conservative influence over the GOP. From my point of view, that's a win-win for those of us who want to see D.C. pulled to the right. But unfortunately, a lot of these big name conservatives don't want to dirty their hands with fund raising. All I can say to that is that if liberals are willing to do the grunt work but conservatives aren't, then maybe we shouldn't complain so much about their being in power, because obviously they care more about seeing their ideas implemented than a lot of us do.
What it all comes down to is that if we want to help the country by enacting conservative policies in Washington, conservatives are going to have to start acting more like a movement again instead of disparate interest groups squabbling over who's getting the biggest slice of the pie. We need the base to hold the GOP accountable, but support them even though they're far from perfect. We also need more conservative activists who are willing to put in the elbow grease, more wealthy conservatives and conservatives with large audiences that are willing to help with fund raising, and we need to have more Republicans in Washington that place a higher priority on pleasing their biggest supporters than pleasing the New York Times. Until we start to do those things again, conservatives will not be able to recapture the momentum we had during the eighties through the mid-nineties and the potential we have to help this country will be largely wasted.