Ken Connor

It's no secret that the Republican Party has for some time been coping with a multifaceted identity crisis. With the election of Barack Obama, the fallout from the 2008 economic collapse, the emergence of the Tea Party, unrest among social conservatives, and a Congressional era marked by deep intra-party animosity, the GOP has been challenged to prove to the American people that it is the party to restore American prosperity and American values. The problem, of course, is that over the years Democrats have waged a relentless and fantastically effective rhetorical campaign against Republicans, to the point where many average Americans associate the GOP exclusively with Wall Street fat cats, K Street lobbyists, and unscrupulous corporate raiders.

Of course, anyone even basically familiar with the way the game is played in Washington, D.C., knows that when it comes to crony capitalism, Democrats' hands are just as dirty as their Republican foes. At the end of the day, it's all about money, and monied special interests invest millions to ensure that their political agenda is advanced on Capitol Hill. The recipients of this corporate largesse simply vary based on the interest in question. Despite this reality, the party of FDR has for decades successfully portrayed itself as a champion for the working man, the disenfranchised, and the downtrodden. Perhaps for the first time, however, the Democrats' blue collar facade is beginning to crack thanks to President Obama's unabashed and unprecedented expansion of corporate welfare in the name of economic and social "progress."

If ever Republicans had an opportunity to educate Americans on the vast difference between the virtues of free market capitalism versus the vices of crony capitalism, and if ever there was a time for the GOP to renew its commitment to the former, this is it. National Review's Jonah Goldberg recently discussed the fundamental difference between pro-market policies and pro-business policies and the distinction that must be made between the two in order to reverse America's gradual slide towards European-style socialism

Ken Connor

Ken Connor is Chairman of the Center for a Just Society in Washington, DC.