The only answer anyone ever seems to be able to offer to that question these days is, “Because the Democrats are worse.” However, the problem with being the lesser of two evils is that you’re still an evil.
Well, what about the GOP’s principles?
What about them?
Name something that the Republican Party stands for today.
Low taxes? We’ve won that battle so thoroughly that 47% of Americans don’t pay income taxes even though we have a trillion dollar deficit. Meanwhile, many of the richest Americans are comfortable enough with what they’re paying to the government that they’re supporting Democrats who are pledging to raise their taxes. In other words, we’re a victim of our own success.
Law and order? Americans in bad neighborhoods who are suffering terribly because of gangs and drugs are apparently of no interest whatsoever to any Republicans in charge of anything judging by the amount of time they spend discussing this issue — which is close to zero. Additionally, the biggest law and order issue on the table today is illegal immigration, where the Republican Party is working hand and glove with the Democrats to reward 11 million people who are here illegally with amnesty.
A strong defense? What good is being strong without being smart? Most of our military “allies” are nearly useless in a fight, we’re giving hundreds of millions of dollars to nations that hate our guts, and the Bush Administration put us a in a terrible situation in Iraq by invading without having the slightest idea that our troops would end up policing the country for nearly a decade. Most Republicans in D.C. seem unfazed by those problems.
Small government? If we really believe in small government, why does it keep getting bigger even when we’re in charge? It certainly did under George W. Bush, who brought us Medicare Part D and TARP while doing nothing of significance to reduce the size of government.
We’re the competent, responsible adult party? Compared to the Democrats, yes. Compared to the Republican Party of the Reagan or Gingrich era, no, we’re not. When’s the last time we pushed term limits, SERIOUS anti-corruption legislation, or tried to force members of Congress to obey the same rules the rest of us have to live under? We just ran a “Mr. Fix-It” candidate whose get-out-the-vote software crashed nationwide on election day for God’s sake. It doesn’t get much more incompetent than that.
Social conservatism? Most of the Republicans in D.C. act like they’re embarrassed by Christians and social conservatives, even on issues where the public is on their side. Then, after the GOP puts up candidates who run away from social conservatism at every opportunity, it’s the Christian conservatives who are blamed for the loss. Here’s a thought: If you can’t turn social conservatism into a winner in a nation that’s 73% Christian when you’re up against the party that defends the behavior of Jesse Jackson, Jr., Bill Clinton, and Bob Menendez, you’re doing something wrong.
How do we distinguish ourselves from the Democrats when no one ultimately believes that we mean what we say? It has gotten so bad that Republicans like Mike Lee, Ted Cruz, Pat Toomey, Jeff Sessions and Rand Paul are problematic for the D.C. GOP not because they’re radical, but because they actually believe in all the things the other Republicans say, but don’t mean on the campaign trail. Worse yet, the establishment Republicans have the nerve to cluck at conservatives for complaining about the situation as if the problem isn’t their lies, condescension, and unprincipled behavior, but the people who are saying it’s unacceptable.
To a lot of the Republicans in D.C., politics is like a football game. The only thing that matters is if your team “wins,” but they’ve defined “winning” down to little more than getting good press, moving poll numbers, or just “doing something.” Unfortunately, you can win a hundred of those “victories” and still lose the war. That’s why conservatives in “flyover country” define winning as enacting conservative legislation, repealing bad legislation or moving the country to the right.
Meaningful victories of that sort have been in short supply in DC and yet, this doesn’t seem to trouble the Republican establishment. In fact, not only are they content to rearrange deck chairs on the Titanic, they seem genuinely hostile to conservatives who actually expect them to produce results. Again and again we’re told that they have superior insight and a magic formula for victory, but they never seem to have anything to offer beyond the same old, tired excuses for their failures.
If they’re so smart, why don’t they get it?
Of course, black and Hispanic Americans won’t vote for us. Democrats have been telling them for decades that we hate them and the GOP treats them like they have cooties. We do almost no minority outreach of consequence as a party. We don’t tailor our message specifically to appeal to single women, young Americans, or people who live in cities either. We’re behind on technology, we don’t support new media, we don’t do much to build conservative grassroots organizations, we don’t help groups trying to reach out to new constituencies, we don’t aid churches, and we’ve given up on impacting the mainstream media, the education system, and Hollywood.
We’re like a football team that keeps running the same plays that don’t work, no matter how many times they fail. Someone says, “Gee, we’ve run the ball 58 straight times; can we try passing it?” Then the response is, “Gosh, no, that’s too risky and dangerous. Besides, the consultants who are getting filthy rich off of these losing tactics assure us that they’ll pay off if we stick with them a little bit longer.”
Well, here’s an alternate strategy for the Republican Party: How about we actually govern like we campaign on law and order, a strong defense, small government, social conservatism and on being the responsible, honest adult party? We should also start with the same premise the Democrats do — which is, first keep the base happy, then try to reach out to the middle. Next, instead of campaigning on the leftovers of Reagan’s 25 year old agenda, we could start with the question, “How can we make people’s lives better today with conservative principles?” Instead of waiting for each group to come to us, we could actually go to it with a tailor made explanation of how our conservatism could make life better for it just like the Democrats do. Additionally, in lieu of putting all of our money into American Crossroads’ new conservative candidate-killing venture, could we perhaps try funding conservatives in the new media, get out the vote technology, groups that do minority outreach, or maybe even some conservative leaning women’s magazines or gossip blogs to reach those low information voters? Rather than being the party that talks tough to begin with, but then caves and gives the Democrats 90% of what they want so that we get the worst of both worlds, maybe we could refuse to deal unless we get at least 60% of what we want. It would also help to replace failures like Mitch McConnell, John Boehner and Reince Priebus with leaders who have the strategic vision and charisma to sell our viewpoint to the American people.
Our principles don’t have to change, but it’s time to accept that our strategy, our tactics, and our “leaders” aren’t getting the job done. We’re not going to beat people whose entire agenda is giving away “free” stuff with our current strategy, which seems to be to give away half as much while we continually stay on defense and whine that we’re not the ogres that they’re making us out to be. Until we accept that doing it like we’ve always done it for the last decade is going to get us what we’ve always gotten, we’re going to keep getting our teeth knocked in by the worst gang of cranky misfits, rabid socialists, and degenerate loons ever to hold office in this country.