The Party is currently a mess because we have no coherent sense of what we stand for. Why do we lack this sense of direction? Because it has been a very long time since we engaged in a serious, comprehensive effort to understand our purpose. I am not recommending a complete change of course. We need not become a party of big government, high taxes, and free love. We would benefit greatly though, by spending more time with a compass and a map before charting our next move.
Panic is unnecessary. There is nothing earth-shattering about a political party losing an election. We operate in an almost mandatory two-party system, so odds are good that we’ll see victory again before long. Also, given the recent history of the Democratic Party it is fair to assume that we won’t actually need to fix any of the core problems in the GOP in order to win again. The Dems can be counted on to bungle their way to defeat at the earliest opportunity.
The more important questions are what will our next victory look like and what it will mean for the country. Toward that end, we need to do the hard work of examining who we are and what it means to be a Republican. We don’t want to replay the last decade.
It is difficult to predict the shape of the next Republican administration, but if nothing changes much you can be sure it will be whiter than Ward Cleaver, religiously fundamentalist, and globally unpopular. None of those things, or even the combination of all them, are enough to keep a Republican from being elected President, but they will be enough to make such an administration yet another disaster for the nation. It would be better for America that the GOP lose like 1964 than win like 2000. In a battle between what’s right for the Republicans and what’s best for America, screw the Party.
Before we can make the Party a force for national good, we need to wrestle with some problems that have gone unresolved since Goldwater’s era. We need to:
- Balance our limited government message with an understanding of our time. (See – Hamilton v. Jefferson)
- Wean ourselves from the use of unethical nutjob tactics (See – On Nutjobs)
- Confront our legacy on racial issues (See – The End of White America is a Good Thing – coming)
- Embrace what government can do well while safeguarding the shrinking rights of the individual (See – That Governs Least -coming)
- Protect the things that make America Unique (See – Defining America in the World – coming)
- Define ourselves clearly for the future (See – What is a Conservative? – coming)
All of these matters need to be dealt with before you can begin to have a conversation about specific policies. Trouble is, as the party has grown more religious and radical over the past generation, we have developed an intolerance for thought. That tendency will be an obstacle as we work to re-assess our direction, but we must face it with courage. As a reward we will pass on a better, stronger, more prosperous country to our children than the one that was placed in our hands.