Welcome to the worst conservative nightmare-- an American economy spunky enough to strain against the shackles of Obama, managing a glimmer of health just barely sufficient to fend off the stain of failure we would need for this grand experiment in surrender to succeed.
So as attractive as it sounds to abandon the post-election battlefield so that Obama can “own” the result, the risks are unacceptable.
It is time to re-arm.
Think of the candidates who will try to return the Senate to Republican hands, already mapping strategies for campaigns that will begin next year. Do we want to surround them with the torpor of ambivalence, or inspire them with a spirit determined to stave off the sour fate the 2012 results might otherwise deliver?
Unfair argument-settler: which one sounds like the path Ronald Reagan would choose?
So if we dispense with the capitulation talk, what remains is the debate over how to fight.
Republicans are dividing into characteristic corners of boldness and pragmatism. There are voices calling for choosing some battles now, saving others for later. This could prevent fiscal cliff-diving a month from now, but more perilous cliffs may await-- the ones that could spell our fiscal doom even if the Obama agenda bats .500.
So is it time to draw a line in the sand, asking America to join us in a quest for what we need most-- spending cuts? It is, and I pray there are enough stiff spines in Congress to make that stand.
We should not sign on to any plan that involves making job creators pay higher tax rates. If we are to entertain any closing of loopholes or striking of deductions (which are also tax increases), it should be upon receipt of iron-clad commitments from Democrats for real entitlement reform and other meaningful spending cuts.
That would seem highly unlikely. Still high on the adrenaline buzz of an election that seemed to smile on their big-government aspirations, Democrats are not in the mood to make deals.
Fine. Then let them be judged by that.
I know the media will paint any dark result as the fault of Republicans. Let them. It is time to stop worrying what the media say or how young and non-white voters might recoil at first.
We must do the right thing and let the chips fall where they may. Only then can we go to those voters we so deeply want to attract and say that we did it for them. They may not have appreciated it, but when we refused to let spending get even more obscene, we said no, and we did it for all Americans.
When we say no to further milking of top earners, we do it not to protect the Bentleys in their garages, but to protect the jobs they create with the money we let them keep.
Republicans lost in 2012 because we did a poor job of teaching voters why we are right. We are up against growing generations of people who are not learning life lessons from intact families instilling virtues of work and self-reliance. They are learning from government schools, liberal colleges and a twisted popular culture.
We will not deserve their attention if we have to explain how we gave up the fight in 2012 because the fight got hard. We will not deserve their respect if we fold our arms in a petulant tantrum and dare the Democrats to ruin the country so we can score an I told you so.
With Democrat heels dug in, the only common ground will be found when Republicans cave on core principles.
So let’s refuse to do that. This is not the last so-called fiscal cliff we will face. The second Obama term will feature deadline after deadline and crisis after crisis, all accompanied by Democrats and the media condemning us for our our refusal to give in to ideas that will only worsen the economy.
The first step toward earning public trust is to lead by example, even when the march is hard. It does not get much harder than right now. But wherever events lead, I want a Republican party that faces voters in 2014 toughened by fighting the good fight, proud of the stands we took, unwilling to buckle for political expediency but always ready to work with anyone who wants to work with us.