The proper path for the Republican party lies somewhere between changing our entire agenda and standing steadfastly on everything. Opinions will differ on the best way forward, as we have seen in the week and a half since the sucker punch of Election Day.
Most conservatives seem to be coping well. We spent a lot of time during the campaign wondering if America as we recognize it would survive a second Obama term. Ever the pragmatists, we now seem committed to doing our part to minimize the damage.
But as we seek to mitigate the harmful effects of Obama 2.0 on our nation, we simultaneously look inward, for answers on how to win back the White House on Election Day 2016 (which is November 8, but who’s counting?)
Does that involve moderating our positions? Surrendering our core values? Or simply repackaging the positions we have always taken?
I believe it depends on the issue.
Let’s begin with the complete folly of cashing in the chips of conservatism. There are plenty of moderates in the party who would love nothing more than to see the whole Republican structure move toward them, zipping its lips on social issues, tossing the belief that America can be a force for good around the world and softening that harsh notion that spending and taxes are abhorrently high.
I believe parties should stand for something. I don’t see Democrats wringing their hands in extended introspections about moving toward the middle. Especially in this era, the left doubles down on its ideology and dares opponents to prove them wrong at the ballot box.
I confess a grudging respect for this-- not ideologically, but strategically. Centrist Democrats have a choice: find a way to back a party that recognizes its job is the purveyance of liberalism, or go be Republicans.
I would make the same offer to any Republican bellyaching about how far right the party has tacked. Are they kidding? After FDR and LBJ twisted the national rudder toward the expansionism that still poisons us, it will take three Reagans to turn it back around.
The ascendancy of the tea party-- or, as it should now be known, consistent conservatism-- is just the beginning of what will be necessary fort generations if we are to ever return to the size and scope of government the founders would smile on.
The only way to walk that path, of course, is to actually win elections. This is achieved by crafting an agenda that is attractive to a majority of voters, and hitching that agenda to candidates who give it a voice that attracts new adherents while repelling as few as possible.
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