The Republican Party lost the presidential election of 2012. Here in California, my own state doubled down on big government by adding a novel surcharge to its already high 11.3 percent income tax rate and ignored spending cuts and entitlement reforms needed to modify a deficit-driven state budget.
The California state Legislature now is firmly in the hands of a Democratic supermajority. Thus, Republicans are practically irrelevant.
As I sit here and listen to the talking heads and the remaining leaders of the failed GOP bid across the country, I find myself skeptical of their analysis and leadership. What may have once worked is now outdated. Yet, obsolete tactics were only part of the problem.
Fundamentally, the Republican Party lacked a coherent strategy. More importantly, there was no captivating message to inspire the American electorate to take notice and change its government, despite a target-rich environment from which one could starkly contrast a message of urgency and course correction against our moribund present.
Where are the statesmen in our present age? Who casts a vision for all the people? We must not delude ourselves that we are returning to the days of “peace and prosperity,” when in the New Normal we are unlikely to have either. Ultimately, we are in danger of being entirely unrelated to the world in which we live.
How can we offer to young men and women “membership” and “leadership” in our Republican Party when we offer them no knowledge of where we have been, and no vision of where we are going?
Rule of law
So few young people today understand that the rule of law is the precondition of an ordered society in which free men and women act in liberty. It is no overstatement to say that, without the rule of law, we cannot have liberty, and that this is a truth, not merely a theory. In the absence of this truth, all we are left with is power. We see that in the perversion of our judiciary, which increasingly legislates, rather than interprets law; in our legislative branch which, unchecked, pursues remedies far beyond what the framers and the U.S. Constitution would allow; and in our executive branch, where the presidency seems imperial.
Anyone who can look the American public in the eye and say we are passing along a better country to our children than the one that we received is lying. We should be ashamed of ourselves. The other side speaks of equality of outcome as if it were the endgame.
But government is a referee, not an enforcer of “fairness” as subjectively redefined by each session of Congress. No one is asking the people to stop and think about who the arbiters of equality are going to be; what standard they’re going to be using; and is that standard to be etched in stone or, as is the case and so far, written on cigarette paper. I find that, when leaders talk about progress, it is only to avoid talking about their policy, in the context of what is good and right.
I hate forensic analysis. I know the Republican Party lost. And in many ways the outcome was deserved. Some of our candidates revealed that they were out of touch with reality. And I wonder if some of them in fact are detached from the real world.
What keeps me committed to the conservative movement are the virtues it has always stood for. In the classic fusion of libertarian and traditional conservatism, we recognize that men and women cannot be virtuous unless they are free to pursue virtue.
We must fight the temptation to quit or capitulate, to conclude that it’s no use fighting. The magnitude of our peril directly correlates to the years of complacent leadership. Furthermore, the power of the opposition to course correction is directly related to the size that correction signifies.
California matters, our country matters, life matters. You matter. Just as each individual is endowed with a purpose, so too can each individual be a part of the movement to recapture the American dream.
There is hope.