Star Parker

Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele and the New York Yankees can look back on a good week. Maybe Steele deserves extra credit.

No one was writing obituaries a year ago for the Yankees as was the case for the Republican Party.

Now we have a different picture. Borrowing from the words of Mark Twain, reports of the death of the Republican Party were greatly exaggerated.

The operative question today for Steele and his party, in the wake of winning governorships in Virginia and New Jersey, both Democratic states in 2008, is "Now what?"

Will voter discontent that led to these Republican victories be parlayed into a genuine Republican renaissance?

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As independent voters move away from Democrats and lean back toward Republicans, which is what happened in Virginia and New Jersey, and what polling over the year has shown to be happening nationwide, will Republicans build a solid new tent?

Will they rebuild their party with values critical to restoring a sick nation to health?

To genuinely rebuild, Republicans must successfully take on two big challenges, one internal and one external.

First, a notion that has divided the party -- that free market economics and the social "values" agenda are separate cards to be played -- must be purged. The more libertarian stream -- Republicans whose principal concerns are limited government, low taxes, and free markets -- have viewed Christian social conservatism as dead weight in the party. This is a mistake.

Christian conservatives, on the other hand, with legitimate concerns about the moral framework of the nation -- concerns about the integrity of the American family and about the ongoing abortion holocaust -- have given shorter shrift to the importance of constitutionally limited government and free markets.

These two streams within the Republican Party that have been flowing in parallel must be channeled into one powerful river. It is not either or. Both are essential.

We cannot lose sight that we won't have a prosperous nation without free markets and limited government as our constitution originally intended.

But we also must recognize that a free economy cannot function without trust, that trust will not exist without a moral people, and that the means through which values and morality are transmitted, generation to generation, is family.

Star Parker

Star Parker is founder and president of CURE, the Center for Urban Renewal and Education, a 501c3 think tank which explores and promotes market based public policy to fight poverty, as well as author of the newly revised Uncle Sam's Plantation: How Big Government Enslaves America's Poor and What We Can do About It.