So, too, are contemporary critics such as former New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman. She contends that the Republican Party was "taken hostage" by "social fundamentalists" -- meaning devout Christians who believe strongly in the sanctity of human life. What the GOP needs are more, not fewer, pro-life activists in its ranks.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal understands this dynamic and is urging that his party look to his fellow state chief executives for future national leadership. He's right. Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's pro-life, pro-Second Amendment message invigorated conservatives in this year's presidential contest, making it a much closer race than it otherwise would have been. But the Republicans can't just fight for the White House. If Republicans want to make a difference, the party not only must have the right ideas but also must run good candidates at every level -- particularly in the 2010 congressional races.
Today there are only 129 members of Congress who have served in our armed forces. (Since the end of World War II, the ratio of veterans in Congress usually has been closer to 50-50.) The GOP can fix that by reaching out now to the best and bravest of this generation: the remarkable young Americans serving in our armed forces. They are all volunteers, part of the brightest, best-educated and most combat-experienced military any nation ever has had -- and they don't have false illusions about the way things are in the rest of the world.
From personal experience, they know that America is one of a handful of places on earth where you can drink tap water or where you can flick a light switch and the lights will come on. They are aware that in the U.S., you can go to a store and buy almost anything you want -- that when you call the police, you do not expect brutality to show up at your door.
The young men and women who have served our country in uniform know that America is one of the rare places on the planet where you can get in a car and drive anywhere in the country with nothing more than a driver's license and a credit card. They appreciate that every citizen has rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Military service has taught them that competence, courage, integrity, perseverance and compassion are rewarded. Those qualities make them natural leaders.
Recruiting them to fight for what's right isn't just political. For them, it's personal. That would be good for all of us -- even our friends here in Europe.
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.