This morning Dr. Bennett (and his guest Senator Jon Kyl) were making the case for compromise. In their view, "the opponents are bigger than we are and there's more of those guys!"
Dr. Bennett is a well-spoken intellectual with decades of contribution to the conservative agenda. When he speaks, we ought to listen. On this front, however, he is wrong.
Hybrid policy-making is and has always been dangerous folly.
It is dangerous folly because it loses the philosophical debate. It shifts the entire national dialogue leftward in a move akin to a tug-of-war rope competition. As the left pulls the right into the mud-pit center of the playing field everything changes. Suddenly the "right" position becomes more of the moderate position and the "left position" becomes even more Marxist. It contributes to the continual eroding of the conservative agenda.
Hybrid policy making bring about mixed results. Mixed results that the more aggressive Democrats will blame on the "conservative" portions of the compromise over the deafening silence of the passive GOP appeasers. It's Saul Alinsky at his best. The conservative policy then gets targeted, demonized and marginalized and the GOP are left to scatter to the more "sensible" middle.
It is dangerous folly secondly because the Democratic party negotiates in bad faith. The Democratic party seldom delivers on their part of the "compromise" and almost always gets everything that they want through the one-two punch of GOP capitulation and Democratic legislative trickery. We don't need to pass things to see what's in them. History teaches us that the secret ingredient is always hidden leftist poison.
Additionally, there is a seismic shift going on in American political life that changes the game entirely.
The time for political compromise is over. The empire is burning, the Titanic is sinking and the first shots of the revolution have been fired. There is no turning back.
The good folks who were elected in 2010 ran on a platform of political fortitude--period. They did not run on the joys of bending over in surrender. This is nothing new, of course. The GOP has made a living out of feigning some sort of Rocky-esque political can-do stick-with-it-ness in the campaign and then cutting and running once elected. This time, however, the American people thought they were different. The birth of the tea party movement and the entrance into politics of many political neophytes fed up with business as usual gave voters the motivation to win one more for the GOP Gipper.
Many common sense conservatives have been ready to breakup with the GOP. After decades of being paid wooing campaign lip service and then being savagely beaten down in policy-making, we've had enough. This was evident in 2008. Many of us didn't even really want to vote for John McCain, the poster-child of political compromise and capitulation. Then he nominated Sarah Palin for Vice President in a rare moment of political courage that changed national politics for generations. So when the 2010 mid-term elections came, we gave the GOP one more shot at governance.
If the GOP follows the footsteps of their predecessors there will be a very real and permanent break with the tea party folks.
Historically, the GOP is masterful at capitulating politically, legislatively and philosophically. This is what comes of allowing the herd of RINOs mulling around the fringe of the party to become the reigning RINOcracy. The RINOcracy has gradually frayed the edges of the GOP banner and slowly dulled the bold colors of the Reagan revolution into the very pale pastels that he fought against his entire political life.
In my lifetime, the GOP policy of "compromise" has always continued the ball down the road toward socialism if even just a few inches more. It has also always had the rather unsavory effect of politically neutering the GOP in the next wave of elections. And yet, the reigning GOP establishment continues to argue that unless we compromise we will lose the 2012 elections.
In the 1980s Ronald Reagan was forced to compromise on some issues and stood firm on others. On the issues where he stood firm, Reagan continues to get high marks for his brilliant success. He refused to cave on his foreign policy that sought to bring down the "evil empire" of the USSR and bring the decades long Cold War to a successful conclusion. He stood by his principles and took politically unpopular positions. He didn't allow the media to define him or shake his resolve. And history proved him right.
Reagan took the same stance on tax cuts. Presiding over the largest peacetime economic expansion proved him right again.
On the issues of illegal immigration and spending cuts (and even some late-term tax increases) he capitulated. The legacy in these areas has been devastating. On the issue of illegal immigration, Mr. Reagan granted amnesty in 1986 under the premise that the Democrats would then agree to tighter security measures and crack down on the illegal immigration menace. Democrats refused to follow through. As a result, Reagan capitulated on amnesty and got nothing that he bargained for. This "hybrid" policy of amnesty in 1986 lost the debate and gave cover to generations of RINO leaders to claim the Reagan mantle while advocating amnesty. It took the footing out from underneath the common sense conservative argument for tougher border security and better enforcement of immigration laws. Suddenly most GOP lawmakers enter the debate with an amnesty provision being a given, rather than a last resort bargaining chip.
Reagan's compromise on government spending with the Democrats paved the way for the tax increase of 1990. It worked temporarily because Reagan got the tax cuts that he needed and his bold, principled leadership on the issue ensured that the debate would continue. Once Reagan left the national stage, however, and handed the reigns over to the lesser-resolved George H.W. Bush, the debate was lost.
Reagan's inability to get the Democrats to cut spending caused a surge of political capital on the Democratic side of the aisle with which to demonize conservative economic policy. It was Reagan's tax cuts, they argued, that caused the deficit. Trapped in the surging tide of unrest over the growing deficit, Bush continued to cede ground to the left by agreeing to raise taxes if the Democrats would just cut some spending instead of boldly defending the case for lower taxes the way President Reagan did. Taxes were then raised, the case for lower taxes undermined, and the spending spree continued.
Bitterly clinging to the idol of compromise has led the GOP to national defeat over and over again. George H. W. Bush lost re-election in 1992. Bob Dole lost in 1996. George W. Bush may have won re-election in 2004 but that was because of his bold resolve on the War on Terror and not because of his inability to confront the Democrats on spending. In 2006 the GOP lost control of the legislative branch for exactly that reason. The Republicans lost the 2008 election partly because Barack Obama was an unstoppable political juggernaut, partly because John McCain was a weak compromiser, and partly because of Bush's failure in forcefully dealing with out-of-control spending. FACT: The only time that the McCain-Palin ticket led the Obama-Biden ticket was immediately after the introduction of the feisty fighting Palin and before McCain's muddled capitulation on bailouts.
Continuing down the path of compromise ensures that the Republicans will lose the 2012 elections, the national debate on any number of political issues and their future relevancy as a political party. America responds to bold leadership not weak surrender.
Instead of infighting, forming gangs of 6, and giving away the farm to the Democrats, the Republicans should be driving the debate. President Obama is the one pushing horror-film narratives about the carnage that will result if a deal isn't reached. He's also the one refusing to sign any deal that cuts spending without massive tax increases. Shouldn't he be outed for that far-left lunacy?
The GOP has the power to shift the paradigm. This debate isn't about what the GOP is willing to give up on. The debate is whether it is wise to raise taxes in the Obama economic depression on those few folks who have the capacity to hire people. And if it isn't wise, why would the president have this catastrophic policy as his sticking point? His reply will be to blame Bush. But on every level Mr. Obama has taken the Bush economic policy of bailouts and record spending and taken it to staggering new heights. The GOP needs to make that case. How can Bush be solely to blame when the Obama policy has been to accelerate the Bush policies with the added ingredient of healthy doses of vacations and golf.
This is not a fight that Mitch McConnell can win. Ditto John McCain. Ditto Mitt Romney. Ditto Jon Huntsman. Ditto Tim Pawlenty. This calls for another Reagan-esque common sense conservative unashamed to take the fight to the Democrats and call them on their nefarious wheeling and dealing. Folks like Rubio. Folks like Rand Paul. Folks like Sarah Palin. This is a fight that requires an affinity for tea. This is a fight that needs to be fought with the force of a Mama Grizzly.
As Margaret Thatcher once quipped when pressed to capitulate to the left, "the lady is not for turning." Great victories are won by standing firm. It's time for the GOP to stiffen their spine and stand up for America before it is too late.
I know a former mayor of Wasilla who could give them some pointers.
Originally posted at City On A Hill Politcal Observer.