In his farewell address to the American people, President Ronald Reagan said: “And don’t be afraid to see what you see.” Reagan was referring to the Soviet Union, advising that many challenges remained. The Republican Party needs to do the same before it can succeed re-gaining a majority status. It will require a fundamental re-making and re-building of the Party structure that does not sacrifice or betray our conservative foundations.
Getting bogged down, or caught up in, the euphoria of the recent elections is not helpful. Rest assured, it will only increase in the weeks leading to the swearing in of America’s first black President. It is a special and proud moment for our country. But just as the Democratic Party is wasting no time preparing for that day, the Republicans must do the same. It will be a center-left, more left than center, government. They must be exposed. The GOP must step up. The GOP must break the shackles of ideological ambivalence.
By all early indications the Obama-Biden Administration is shaping up to be the most liberal administration in American history. More so than Bill Clinton and Al Gore. The appointment of Congressman Rahm Emmanuel as White House Chief-of-Staff ensures a left-leaning political and policy ballast. The Obama-Biden White House will have a Congress led by the most liberal factions of the Democratic Party. And Congressional Committee Chairmen will further enhance the left’s control on the levers of power.
While he rejected support from Washington, DC’s K Street gang during the campaign, the Obama-Biden planners have opened the transition planning doors to the Democratic power brokers. Even during the brief Republican control of Congress, the Democrats controlled K Street. Not only will Democratic lawyers and lobbyists will fill the ranks of the Administration, but there will be plenty left over to mind K Street offices (not to mention the media).
Earlier this week, House Republican Leader John Boehner penned in Red State, “[w]e’ll win the majority back and rebuild our party in the same manner in which President Lincoln built it and President Reagan renewed it: by standing up for the principles of freedom, security, and individual liberty that have defined the GOP since the beginning and continue to resonate with the American people.” Indeed.
America remains a center-right country. While legislative battles shall be waged in the Congress, the true political battlefield remains, as it always has, outside of this town. While Republicans may not want to admit this, the Party has fought a civil war of its own during the past few years. As a result, the Party that won landslide elections in 1994 morphed into something indistinguishable from Democrats.
The 2008 elections should have not surprised the GOP. Talking right, but leading left led to this dysmal outcome. Enough voters could not tell the difference between Democrats and Republicans, and Republican candidates were trounced at the polls.
The loyal opposition begins today. The Party needs to hold the Obama-Biden Administration accountable at every step. It also needs to focus on re-building the Party at the local, state, and national level. It will be a mamoth, but necessary undertaking. The Party must stave off any further Democratic gains in the South. It must recapture the mid-West and take back Colorado and New Mexico.
In urban areas and big cities, it must confidently talk to new voters with clear ideas grounded in our conservative philosophy. We have allowed the left to hijack, and in some cases prostitute, conservative ideals. They have run candidates that talk right, but govern left. They need to be called on it, clearly and relentlessly, by advancing our agenda and never being ashamed to do so.
Finally, the choice for the next Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman is key. In the vein of a Lee Atwater or Haley Barbour, it must be someone more interested in winning for the cause, and not aiming for higher office in 2012. It must be someone not afraid to see the many challenges that lay ahead, but doubly committed to win on a conservative platform of ideas.
If Republicans try to out-Democrat the Democrats, they will fail. We can reach out to non-traditional voters with ideas, not hollow gimmicky slogans such as “common sense conservatism” or, worse, balkanizing the electorate along ethnic lines or with other languages, such as Spanish, to make a message point. We need to unite out Party, not divide it. We want to expand it. Ideas unite, political gimmicks divide.
The Democrats in Congress and the Obama-Biden team are wasting no time making good on their promise of “change.” Expect higher taxes, more government, less freedom, and a more dangerous world. Republicans need to ramp up, fast. The Party must hold the Democrats accountable at every turn. And, most importantly, the Party must offer alternative solutions and ideas. If it does not, it risks becoming a minority movement for decades. The latter is what the Democrats are banking on.