The Perils Of Being The Party Of Ideas
Where The Republican Party Has Been And Where It?s Going
One of the first principles of sales and especially in representing clients in the Real Estate business is to always “under promise, and over deliver”. While I don’t think this simple and common sense principle of sales necessarily applies to politics. It is the starting premise of this article and I’ll explain what I mean when I close this out.
Let’s start with 1994. Most of us remember or have heard about The Contract with America. Yet few remember or discuss the campaign that was carried out prior to the Republican Caucus in the House of Representatives signing this historic contract 2 weeks before the election.
As you all know, Republicans had just been defeated in a landslide election just a year or so prior. The Democrats had complete and total control of all branches of government and had spent the last year+ ramming through the Assault Weapons Ban, The Brady Bill, Tax Increases including on Social Security, retroactive tax increases by canceling tax cuts from a few years earlier. They had spent a year trying to cram Hillary Care which would have nationalized 1/7th of the American economy through. The Clinton administration had spent two years before the 1992 elections and after trashing the “Radical Religious Right” as Jocelyn Elders went out on a daily basis advocating for teaching kindergartners about sex and passing out condoms in grade schools…Clinton had made a mess in Somalia and had allowed American warships to be chased out of Haiti by a club wielding mob and the Democrats hadn’t come up with an economic package it could run on.
All branches of the Conservative Coalition were united, and fired up. After the Reagan years, the Conservative movement had built up its message machine and was overflowing with policy ideas. Conservatives on a grass roots level were kept up to date and not just sent requests for money and left to wonder what they were sending their money to. Our agenda that year included welfare reform, ending the Department of Education, defunding the left and eliminating government payments to groups like the Sierra Club and Planned Parenthood. Eliminating funding for the government funded left wing propaganda machines of NPR and PBS. Crime would be dealt with by tougher legislation requiring minimum mandatory sentences, expanding the death penalty and passing three strikes laws nationwide. Funding for the national endowment for the arts would be eliminated.
The Conservative message machine was firing on all cylinders and no Democrat lie or obfuscation went unchallenged. Practically every Republican of national prominence had a copy of the 10th Amendment in their pocket and took every opportunity on TV or on the radio to pull it out of their coat pocket to read it to the camera or microphone.
The NRA purchased time on TV for a series of infomercials to confront the Brady bunch on gun control. The Christian Coalition was out there rallying its troops around the abortion issue, against Elder’s foolishness and generally reminding every Christian in the country what the Clinton Administration thinks of the “Radical Christian Right”. Libertarians were up in arms at the Clinton administrations attempts to silence talk radio, using the IRS to audit political enemies, storing and releasing information on FBI files of their political enemies in the basement of the White House, and other overreaches against freedom of speech. FisCons were up in arms over excessive government spending and the never ending string of new taxes being proposed by the Democrats in the White House and Congress. I’ll never forget one of my favorite Congressmen at the time, John Kasich holding up the Republican budget plan and asking where was the Democrat plan for the economy…What was so funny was that all the Dems could do is look like deer in the headlights and stutter and stammer under their breath.
Of course we were all told by the Dems and the so called objective Press and all the moderate/liberal Republicans how the American People didn’t like all the partisan bickering …We were lectured to by liberal Democrats and Republicans in the Senate about the lack of comity and their dismay at the loss of civility in “the Upper Chamber”, (of course…as is always the case…the loss of civility meant the Republicans standing up for themselves and calling the Democrats on their lies), but it all fell on deaf ears for the conservative coalition that Reagan and Gingrich built and the Conservative message resonated with the American public.
The Contract For America and the entire conservative agenda was pitched to the American people and the deal was closed as evidenced by the 54 seat gain for the Republican Party in the House of Representatives giving them the majority in the House for the first time in 40 years and the 8 seat gain in the Senate. This election was a land slide by any definition and it came after the most audacious and unapologetic conservative campaign in the second half of the 20th century…with the possible exception of Reagan’s in 1980.
For the next 6 to 8 years, (with the exception of the Dole campaign and the elitists he represented who ran away from the conservative agenda like a scalded dog), the Republican Party became known as the party of ideas as a result of the grass roots organizations, the think tanks, the internet, and talk radio. From foreign policy, the economy, social issues, limited government, law enforcement as well as tax and fiscal policy the Republican Party was the party Americans looked to for leadership.
So…now we come to the sales axiom that the “best salesmen ‘under promise and over deliver’”…Well…you tell me…How has the Republican Party done?
In 14 years we’ve abandoned it all…We just passed a government bailout plan that approaches the size of the entire federal budget in 1994. Nothing has been done on abortion and other social issues with the exception of spending by the government on social programs that have nothing to do with the SoCon agenda…Far from eliminating the National Education Administration, we have the Kennedy inspired no child left behind…the marriage penalty is on it’s way back and the death tax is about to return without any action by the Democrats because the Republican’s refused to bring it up for a vote when they had control of all three branches of government…Thanks to President Bush, his SEC chairman and 1/3 of Republicans in the Congress we are in the process of nationalizing out banks and mortgage industry and talking about nationalizing our auto industry…Even on the military we have made a mess of things as Bush appointed a Nixon Era micro manager to run the Pentagon who mismanaged the War in Iraq and crippled the military in many ways with his hair brained ideas of reshaping to military into a rapid deployment smaller unit shadow of it’s former self declaring we can do more with less!
So what’s the result? We lost House seats in 2006 in 1994 proportions and lost control of the House for the first time in twelve years…We also lost control of the Senate. We have a president with the lowest approval ratings in history. Of course after a defeat like that…you’d think we’d change directions and return to first principles right?
Well…along comes 2008. We start out right after the 2006 fiasco with the intellectuals in the party telling us this is an 8th year election cycle for the presidential elections and the party in power always loses. All our first stringers set the presidential elections out leaving us with a lackluster field to say the least. The heads of the NRCC and NRSC started right out of the box declaring how bad things were for Republicans this cycle…the establishment of the party had set up the primary schedule at the 2004 Republican Convention front loading the most liberal big states and compressing the schedule to a point where we were virtually guaranteed to nominate the most liberal Republican in the field.
Once the groundwork was laid with the excuses and the worse candidate to be nominated since Bob Dole, Conservatives spent the time from March till November being brow beaten about, “what are you going to do, vote for Obama?” “A vote for a third party or a blank ballot equals a vote for Obama”, “Shut up and get in line because we can’t win without attracting Moderates and Independents” and on and on. We end up being treated to a campaign without any consistent theme or message and stand by in frustration as we watch our nominee and the clowns he picked to run his campaign stumble around and be blown about by the wind as they try to figure out what they need to do on every issue that will appeal to moderates and independents! In the end, it took a plumber from Ohio to hand the best and brightest Ivy League educated idiots McCain could hire to give the party a message two weeks before the election. The only redeeming thing in the entire campaign was McCain’s nomination of Palin…and even that has a tarnish on it because McCain’s people are engaged in a campaign to tear her down and blame her for their own impotence while the “Maverick” refuses to condemn those engaged in the subterfuge!
So where are we now? For the second election in a row we lost record seats in the House and the Democrats may end up with a filibuster proof Senate if they can steal the rest of the recounts in Senate races. All this despite the fact that the idiots running the NRCC and NRSC were running against a Democrat Congress with the worse approval ratings in American history!
We end up with no credibility when it comes to anything we used to believe in as Conservatives…I can’t tell you how many times I tried this year to convince people to vote Republican only to be told…”Why…they’re all the same!” Well…what can you say to that when it’s become the truth! How do you answer that charge when you know it’s true? Why go out there and campaign when all you can do is stutter and stammer because you know your party has ceased to be the party of ideas…It’s ceased to stand for anything…and it’s become a pale shadow of the Democrat Party?
So…what do we do now? Well…We start out with the House Minority Leader maintaining his position as House Minority Leader. Mitch McConnel stays as Senate Minority Leader and we’re looking at a lackluster field of candidates for RNC Chair! I haven’t heard anything about what’s going on with the NRCC or NRSC and at this point I could care less…it doesn’t mean a thing because it appears the more things change, the more they stay the same.
After the 2006 and 2008 fiascos, we’re told once again by the Northeastern/Washington DC/West Coast axis that has the Republican Party in a strangle hold that we’re losing because we’re not attracting independents and moderates because of the “radical fringes” of our party so we need to abandon even more of everything we stood for in 1994!
Apparently we haven’t moderated enough and sold out our conservative principles enough and we need to moderate even more it’s said…it’s not the “Pale pastels” that they’ve turned our party philosophy into that is to blame for our failures…we need to cloud up the difference between the Democrat and Republican Parties even more so we can attract more of the middle to our cause…and to ad insult to injury…after spending the last 30+ years starting in 1975 trying to drive Reagan out of the party, sniping at him and trying to undercut him at every turn while he was President and declaring in 2008 that the “Era of Reagan is over” in the Republican Party, they now want to claim him for their own and behave as if they were with him all along. They quote him out of context and take his comments about building a big tent out of context and twist it to mean that he advocated abandoning our principles and selling out our beliefs so we can attract those who disagree with us to a tent of their imagination!
What a bucket of bile that is…It’s time to bury that foolishness…It’s the height of folly to keep doing the same thing and expect a different result. It’s time to get back to first principles and set to work convincing moderates and independents of the rightness of our cause. It’s time to stop letting Democrat’s lies and smears pass without challenge. It’s time to defend our freedoms and liberties and stop pandering for votes that end up going to the Democrats anyway. If the so called objective press won’t give Republicans a fair shake…it’s time to go around them. There are still Conservative media outlets out there where Republicans can get their message out and if Palin’s interviews by Gibson and Couric have proved anything, it’s the foolishness of exposing your throat to the knives of the cutting room floor.
We are in desperate need of a message…and going back to my title and axiom…it’s time to stop over promising and under delivering! Finally, it’s time to promise what we will do based on our conservative values and deliver what we’ve promised! The way back to power for the Republican Party begins with once again becoming the party of ideas…but this time we simply have to deliver…or it will be Conservatism and the American way of life that will be condemned to the dust bin of history in the end!