"Republicans, act more like Democrats!"
Actually, former Secretary of State Colin Powell put it somewhat differently when he offered his prescription to extricate the GOP from its "deep trouble."
Powell insists that Republicans must accept that the country has changed. "Americans do want to pay taxes for services," he said. "Americans are looking for more government in their life, not less." In other words, Republicans simply need to surrender to President Obama and the Democrats' outrageous and radical push/pull for more government in, well, everything. Or, as former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean snappily puts it, "I think we've had quite enough capitalism in the last eight years, and I think we need some regulation now."
Many, if not most, Americans do want a welfare state. Certainly, Americans rail against excessive government spending, but try asking, "OK, where would you like to cut?" Health care? Well, no. Education? No, not that. Aid to the poor? No. Social Security? Uh-uh. Disaster relief for those hard hit by floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, broken levees? No, too harsh. Unemployment benefits for those out of work during this severe recession? No, lacks compassion.
The problem is that Republicans have already been acting like Democrats -- and for a long, long time. In 2000, they nominated then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush. He promised to serve as the education president and signed into law No Child Left Behind, which further injected the feds into a state matter. He promised and delivered a prescription bill for seniors, which expanded Medicare by the largest amount since the program's inception. His dad, former President George Herbert Walker Bush, signed into law the Americans with Disabilities Act, a hideous intrusion into the private sector rationalized by compassion. On the 10th anniversary of the ADA, George W. praised his dad's program.
Let's go back further. Republicans initially resisted -- and quite fiercely -- the New Deal programs passed during the Franklin Delano Roosevelt administration. And the Supreme Court, at least initially, declared many of Roosevelt's expansionary programs unconstitutional.
After Roosevelt's first win, in 1932, Republicans failed to recapture the White House until 1952. That year, a major GOP contender for the nomination, the "fiscally conservative" Sen. Robert Taft of Ohio, promised to undo parts of the New Deal. But even he accepted Social Security and public housing for the poor. The "moderate" GOP contender and eventual winner, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, not only accepted the New Deal but also used tax dollars -- purportedly for national security -- to construct the interstate highway system.
Former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie recently said that under the George W. Bush administration, spending got out of control. We hear this refrain constantly: Republicans spent too much; Republicans let spending get out of control; we need to return to fiscal responsibility.
But if, in fact, Bush erred in signing and the Republicans in Congress wrongly voted for the No Child Left Behind Act, shouldn't Republicans condemn it, repent and vote for its repeal?
But if, in fact, Bush erred in signing and the Republicans in Congress wrongly voted for the prescription bill for seniors, shouldn't Republicans condemn it, repent and vote for its repeal?
But if, in fact, Bush erred in signing and the Republicans in Congress wrongly voted for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, shouldn't Republicans condemn it, repent and vote for its repeal?
Americans like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. And President Obama won the election, in part, by calling it a "matter of neighborliness" to tax A for the benefit of B. That this creeping socialism defies the Constitution and weakens economic growth is of little consequence to many Americans.
Republicans can regain the White House by standing on principles -- and explaining their purpose and utility. The party needs candidates unafraid to convince the American people that the Founding Fathers designed the Constitution as a contract that restricts the federal government to a handful of important services, not least of which is national security. Republicans need to show how Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid -- to say nothing of the various entitlement programs advocated by the current administration -- will bankrupt the country. Republicans must make the case, however difficult and unpopular, for private savings accounts, a free-market-based approach to health care, and private charity for the needy.
Powell says the country has changed. If so, does that mean Republicans should simply stand by and accept it, offering only minor modifications? Or should Republicans summon the courage to explain how and why this "change" threatens no less than the very existence of the Republic?