I see "pragmatists" everywhere I look in the Republican Party -- those who say we must always be more concerned with not offending so-called moderates than with advancing our principles. The irony is that no one is less pragmatic, in the end, than these self-styled pragmatists because their prescriptions are a recipe for failure.
Most recently, of course, the Republican branch of the political correctness sect insists that we must not oppose Judge Sonia Sotomayor's nomination for the Supreme Court because her confirmation is inevitable and by opposing it, we'll gratuitously alienate Hispanics and women -- as if they haven't already been conditioned by the liberal press to believe conservatives are ogres regardless.
What's missing from this analysis is that one of the main reasons Republicans have lost favor of late, reflected in their trouncing in the 2006 congressional elections and in shrinking GOP party identification percentages, is their alienation of the conservative base. The best-kept secret is that with 60 percent of Americans still considering themselves conservatives, Republicans only need to be true to their conservative principles to win again.
While I've always considered it hyperbolic to suggest there is no difference between the parties, I find it increasingly difficult to defend this position. Beltway Republicans, with notable exceptions, spend half their time groveling to the forces of political correctness, conceding the ideological turf wars to liberal Democrats and agreeing to operate within the four corners of the liberal- and relativist-dominant media culture without a fight.
Take, for example, the Republicans' approaches to Obama's newly announced Draconian CAFE standards and his cap and trade proposal. In response to both, they virtually concede the cultish dogma that man-made global warming is destroying the Earth, rendering them powerless to battle to save capitalism. Likewise, how many of them fight for nuclear energy instead of knuckling under to the left's destructive fear-mongering on this no-brainer alternative energy source?
Similarly, on Obama's obsession with consummating the already-started process of socializing American medicine, many Republican leaders are talking about massaging his plan at the margins rather than challenging its inevitability and opposing it head-on. The only thing inevitable about nationalized health care is that it would destroy the best medical system in the world. Yet where are the GOP Paul Reveres?
Another example is the Guantanamo Bay prison. When President Bush said he'd like to close the prison if and when feasible, he opened the door for President Obama to press forward with this insanity. Republicans have boxed themselves in on the issue and have less credibility to challenge the anti-war leftist propaganda that we grossly abused prisoners there, when the evidence shows the opposite. Instead of leading, Republicans are allowing themselves to be led, lest they be singled out for special ridicule by liberals for telling the politically incorrect truth.
Nor do many Republicans have the temerity to dispute the patently absurd leftist dogma that Gitmo is the terrorists' greatest recruitment tool because otherwise-peaceful Muslims will be so outraged at mild mistreatment of war prisoners -- in those exceptional cases in which mistreatment occurs -- that they'll join the beheading movement.
Now, with Obama's nomination of Judge Sotomayor, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs tells us we have to tread lightly in daring to oppose her. You'd expect His Shillness to take that position, but how about Republican politicians and "conservative" commentators? Why do we have to tread lightly at the prospect of the appointment of a radical leftist activist judge who believes in rewriting the Constitution on the fly to achieve the policy results that she and the Appointer in Chief desire?
I swear; sometimes our side acts as oblivious as liberals about the indispensability of our system of checks and balances to the preservation of our liberties. If the integrity of the Constitution isn't worth fighting for, what is?
Just what would Obama have to do to warrant our criticism? Just how radical and in your face would he have to be before people quit falling for his empty bipartisan rhetoric?
There will always be those who stubbornly cling to the misguided notion that Republicans could build a bigger tent through caving on 90 percent of their supposed principles and offering only Democrat lite. But the only chance we have for a Republican resurgence is if Republicans return to their conservative roots and offer a real, stark alternative to the unfolding Obama destruction.
If they roll over instead of vigorously opposing this madness, they'll have no legitimacy to mount an alternative case in 2010 and 2012. Thus, pragmatism versus principles is a false choice. It's more pragmatic, not to mention more honorable, to stick to your principles.
If the GOP continues to surrender its principles, however, it won't matter if it wins, because it will have morphed into that which it has professed to oppose.