It seems everyone these days knows how the Republican Party can stop its internal bleeding and win a few elections this November. And while there are many good ideas floating around (and a few bad ones), almost everyone offering their free advice is offering it specifically to presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain. And while McCain needs as much good advice as he can get, his name is only going to be the one at the top of the ballot this November.
Thousands of other Republicans running for offices around the country have not only a chance to win, but a chance to rededicate the Republican Party and reform our country in the process. While many of the pressing issues have changed since 1994 and 1980, rejections of traditional conservatism as old or stale simply do not jive with reality. To paraphrase G.K. Chesterton, conservatism has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried. But that won’t do.
Conservatives who want to win elections and transform our society will never be successful by adapting it to fit the times; it simply needs to be applied to our times. Our core principles of order, justice, and freedom do not change. Conservatism can always use more and better spokesmen, and more and better leadership, but the idea that conservatives should be running scared in 2008 is preposterous. We shouldn’t run scared; we should run on conservative Values.
The best agenda any conservative could propose is right where it’s always been. Republican incumbents and challengers running for Congress this year can translate the values of order, justice, and freedom into five basic principles for conservative government: winning the war; rewriting a 21st century tax code; redesigning government, according to constitutional precepts; restoring the federal judiciary to its proper and constitutional place; and, cultivating our society’s culture of life.
Tom DeLay is the former House Majority Leader, the second ranking leader in the United States House of Representatives, and co-author of No Retreat, No Surrender: One American's Fight.