The Republican Party certainly does require a "Big Tent" -- the kind of tent we sometimes see covering a house infested with termites. Unless conservatives can rid the GOP of Democrats hiding out in their midst, the Republican Party can never recover. Liberals are sapping the GOP's strength from within.
It now seems that a looming divorce within the GOP has grown inevitable. Unless the Republican Party returns to its conservative principles, a number of conservatives will go on strike. They feel it is no longer acceptable for conservatives to do most of the hard work of winning elections, while the Party leaders promote mainly liberal policies. A new Party could even be the result.
Liberals in the Republican Party (affectionately known as "Moderates" or "Vichy Republicans") severely threaten the existence of the Republican party in four fundamental ways:
(1) "Moderates" lose elections by their failure to understand politics or how to lead a party. Political success requires persuading and inspiring. Conservatives believe that the opinions of the public and the votes of the electorate are fluid and dynamic. A candidate wins votes by persuading the voters that he or she offers a better plan and better leadership. The heart and soul of politics is convincing people that your party's ideas are best.
Yet one of the fundamental errors of "Moderate" Republicans is that they view the electorate as frozen in place. Voters never change their minds. Therefore, "Moderates" approach elections by trying to patch together already-existing, static blocs of opinion. They want to pander to various interest groups in order to cobble together a majority. "Moderates" cannot understand elections in terms of changing minds. Therefore, they do not try to persuade the electorate. And they can't understand anyone else doing so, either. Moderates want to count noses, while conservatives want to change hearts.
The Vichy Republicans propose an "EMPTY TENT" strategy. They want to erect a "Big Tent" -- but offer no reason for anyone to ever actually enter the GOP tent. The GOP "Empty Tent" pales in comparison to the circus next door in the Democrats' tent.
Conservatives strongly believe that voters respond to leadership. They believe that voters actually decide in each election who is the better candidate, based on the policies, records, and qualities a candidate offers. Therefore, conservatives believe that they can win a majority by offering better ideas, plans, and proposals for the country. By contrast, if the GOP fields an awful candidate and runs an awful campaign, people will vote for the Democrat. This does not signal a permanent shift in the nation's politics requiring the Party to abandon its principles. This simply means the GOP nominated a terrible candidate.
Conservatives believe it is a severe threat to allow confusion about what the Party stands for or fail to present clearly why their policies are better. Trying to water down the Party's message to pander to different groups is the path to certain defeat. The voters must be able to understand the difference between the parties. The voters must see why conservative policies are better. If we don't show the voters why our plans are better, no one else will.
"Moderates" take all the wrong lessons from the last two elections. No one will vote for a party that stands for nothing, that will say anything to pander for a vote. And given a choice between a genuine, strong liberal and a pathetic imitation, the voters will choose the genuine liberal. Having a choice only between two bad shows on TV, people will watch the better show. But they will still be wishing the whole time that there was something better on to watch instead.
Conservatives want to lead the country. Since the job description is that of leader, demonstrating qualities of leadership is important for winning votes. But most important is the lost and neglected art of convincing voters which direction is the best for the country.
More than any other issue, "Moderates" have made horrible decisions about how to win on the issue of abortion. Just this week, a Gallup poll found a dramatic change in the nation's views on abortion, with 51% calling themselves Pro-Life, up from 44% only a year ago. "Moderates" base their entire political philosophy on the certainty that no one's views can ever be changed. Yet here is dramatic evidence that people's opinions do change, that Conservatives are right and "Moderates" are wrong. Public opinion is sensitive to what political leaders say and do.
Vichy Republicans are loudly objecting that demands for conservative "purity" result in a narrow, small Republican party. Conservatives respond that electoral success requires purity of the MESSAGE. It is impossible to persuade the electorate with a confusing, contradictory, meaningless message. To conservatives, the issue is not a Party whose membership or participation demands purity, but whose policies must present a clear, understandable message. All persons are welcome in the Republican Party. Liberal policies are not.
The GOP under Newt Gingrich gained 52 seats in the House in 1994 after Bill Clinton's 1992 landslide. Why do "Moderates" ignore such examples of real-world success? As Ronald Reagan explained on March 1, 1975 after the Watergate fiasco, "Our people look for a cause to believe in. Is it a third party we need, or is it a new and revitalized second party, raising a banner of no pale pastels, but bold colors which make it unmistakably clear where we stand on all of the issues troubling the people?" and "A political party cannot be all things to all people."
(2) "Moderates" lose elections because liberal policies do not work for a Republican candidate. A Democrat can run in concert with his liberal base but a Republican cannot run in conflict with his conservative base. (Winning elections requires enthusiasm among volunteers and many months of work, not just counting votes in November.) Also, voters who favor liberal policies will never choose a Republican as a poor imitation of a Democrat. Those who desire liberal policies will choose the real thing, not a cheap knock-off.
(3) "Moderates" use conservative footsoldiers in election campaigns and then stab conservatives in the back in government policies. Conservatives will not continue to endure such persistent betrayal. It is as if the Conservative movement caught "Moderate" Republicans in bed with another woman. And we've got pictures.
(4) "Moderates" have a ferocious determination to sabotage the Republcian party whenever necessary to ensure the defeat of conservatives.
In 2005 and 2006, something snapped. Republicans in Congress and the Bush Administration betrayed and undercut the Republican brand. On CNN on October 6, 2006, one of the conservative movement's founders, Richard Viguerie explained: "For six years, the conservatives have gotten basically lip service from this administration. They've been used and abused." As a fund-raiser for dozens of major conservative groups, Viguerie knows the mind of conservative leaders and their donors.
Massive government spending, vast expansion of government, abuse of power, scandals, and many liberal policies infuriated the right wing of the party. (Sadly too many conservative Republicans were seduced and participated.) After 9/11, plans to give control of U.S. seaports to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates convinced Americans that Washington had lost its mind. Bush's attempt to squander a Supreme Court nomination on Harriet Myers removed any doubts. The mad rush of the Bush White House and Republican leaders to give amnesty to 20 million illegal aliens, and place them on a path to U.S. citizenship, was too much. And the $700 billion bail-out to Wall Street, for a problem "suddenly" discovered at the last moment, struck Americans as crazy. Bush worked with the most liberal Democrats in Congress, such as on Ted Kennedy's education bill.
Conservative frustration with Republican leaders has been building for decades. One of the founding fathers of the modern conservative movement, Paul Weyrich, wrote LIP SERVICE chronicling the betrayal of conservatives by George Bush Senior. Weyrich's booklet argued that the elder George Bush persistently lied to the voters and conservatives, giving only empty "Lip Service" to conservative beliefs, but then Bush betrayed conservatives at every opporunity. Conservatives believed that Bush the father, like his son after him, hijacked the language of conservativism while governing as a big-government liberal. Bush's famous lie "Read my lips: No new taxes" was but only one example of many.
In 1992, Paul Weyrich and Brent Bozell announced outside the Republican National Convention in Houston that nothing conservatives could do would save George Bush Senior "from defeat since he [Bush] was refusing to advance a conservative agenda." In 2000, Bozell warned that "W" was making the same mistake as his father.
Bush followed Ronald Reagan by promising a "kinder, gentler nation" -- an obvious insult to the Reagan Revolution that positioned him as Vice President and handed him the White House. His son George "W" Bush did exactly the same thing, promising a new brand of "compassionate conservatism." Both father and son rejected conservatives, while demonstrating ignorance of conservative theories and beliefs. Conservatives see their policies as the most compassionate government policies possible. Conservatives seek to help the poor rise out of poverty, while liberals persistently fail. The longest-running war in American history, the crack goes, is the war on poverty, and poverty is winning. Liberal policies keep the poor enslaved as a permanent under-class without hope of progress. For "W" to propose a "compassionate" conservatism proved that "W" had not the slightest clue about conservative principles.
Then in 1994, the Republican Party of Virginia nominated Col. Oliver North as its candidate for the United States Senate from Virginia. A now-familiar pattern became clear: (a) When a liberal is nominated, liberals demand party unity, but (b) when a conservative is nominated, liberals in the GOP will go to any lengths to sabotage the conservative Republican. Liberals would rather destroy the Republican Party than allow a conservative to get elected and gain influence. As an elected member of the Arlington County Republican Committee, this author witnessed the raging debates in the Virginia GOP throughout 1994.
Rather than supporting the Party nominee, liberal Republicans Sen. John Warner and Rep. Tom Davis engineered Oliver North's defeat by sponsoring Marshall Coleman as an independent spoiler candidate in the general election. North received 43% of the vote compared to 46% for Democrat Chuck Robb, a son-in-law of Lyndon Johnson. But Marshall Coleman (a liberal Republican running as an independent) peeled off 11% of the vote. Therefore, if liberal and moderate Republicans had backed the Republican nominee, Col. North would have won with 54% of the vote to Robb's 46%. (Democrats would have voted for Democrat Robb, so most of Coleman's 11% would have gone to North.) Liberal Republicans preferred to elect a Democrat to the U.S. Senate than allow a conservative to hold the seat.
This pattern has been repeated again and again nationwide. Conservatives are expected to support the Party's liberal nominees. Yet Liberals almost never support the Party's conservative nominees. GOP "Moderates" demand a one-way street. Indeed this was attempted against Ronald Reagan in 1980 by Republican Congressman John Anderson, who ran as an Independent spoiler trying to siphon votes away from Reagan so as to re-elect Jimmy Carter instead of conservative Reagan. Liberal Virginia Congressman Tom Davis seems to spend more time sabotaging conservative Republicans than serving as a Congressman.
Without conservatives, the "Moderates" in the Party could not win an election for dog-catcher. Conservatives are the foot soldiers of the Republican Party. Conservatives are the ones who do most of the work to win elections. "Blue blood" liberal Republicans do not often get their hands dirty. Generally speaking, liberal Republicans do not walk the neighborhoods doing literature drops or making phone calls. And conservatives know it. And they are tired of being taken advantage of.
Even when Republican "Moderates" contribute to winning elections, they usually do so as highly-paid campaign consultants, vendors, or staffers. Conservatives are the unpaid volunteers, who give of their time because they care about their country and believe conservative policies will make the nation better.
Heading into the 2006 election, conservatives began to talk openly about boycotting Republican politicians. In conservative publications, in the halls of conservative organizations, and on talk radio, conservatives started debating whether it would be better to let Democrats win. GOP politicians had refused to listen to or care about the rank-and-file. Many started to say that the GOP must start losing elections before its leaders will start listening. Many argue that America had to suffer through Jimmy Carter to realize that liberalism does not work. Jimmy Carter gave us Ronald Reagan, the theory goes.
By 2008, the nomination of the Anti-Republian John McCain crossed the line. Only the prospect of electing far-left candidate Barack Hussein Obama gave conservatives any reason to fight for and vote for John McCain. Conservatives were shamefully guilty of staying silent for too long and allowing Republican "Moderates" to masquerade as conservatives. The fear of liberals like Al Gore or John Kerry winning election scared conservatives into biting their tongues.
But this argument has worn thin. Conservatives now realize that even if they do elect a "Moderate" Republican there probably won't be "a dime's worth of difference" from electing a Democrat. Meanwhile, the public image of Republicans will be smeared by having a Moderate Republican masquerade as a conservative. Ann Coulter promised to campaign for Hillary Clinton against John McCain. Christian leader James Dobson announced that he could never vote for John McCain.
McCain's frequent attacks on conservatives for decades, support for amnesty for illegal aliens, repeated swing votes for liberal policies, and infringement of free speech with the McCain-Feingold campaign finance bill made him completely unacceptable to many conservatives. As a result, some conservatives went "on strike" and stayed home... enough to result in massive election losses for the GOP. Faced with having the nation's first Black President, or a useless liberal McCain, many saw no benefit to voting for McCain. Elections involve more than just election day, but many months of hard work. Elections are decided by thousands of events months or a year before election day.
Since November, a few Republican politicians and self-appointed experts have waged a
high-profile campaign to convince the Republican Party to become more liberal. In fact, every year, no matter what happens, liberals and moderates in the GOP always try to steer the Republican Party even further to the left than it already is. The answer to every news headline is always that the GOP must lurch madly to the left.
Sen. Arlen Specter abandoned the GOP, claiming that the Party had moved too far to the right. In fact, however, the Party has never been more liberal than in the last eight years. John McCain was the most liberal Republican nominee for President since Gerald Ford, possibly more liberal than Ford. The fact that Republicans like Bush and McCain simply want to defend the country shows how far left the Democrats have shifted. National defense used to be a matter of bipartisan agreement. Even on foreign policy, Bush began his term by allowing China to knock an American surveillance plane out of the sky and kidnap the crew in their airplane. While America obviously could not go to war with China, Bush's groveling appeasement of China was humiliating. It was only the attacks of 9/11 that convinced Bush on foreign policy that he had to aggressively defend the country.
Amazingly, we see the peculiar oddity of liberals in the mainstream media and liberals in Congress offering their "advice" on how the Republican Party can best defeat the Democrats. Obviously, such "advice" from the GOP's mortal enemies is calculated to destroy, not assist, the GOP. The only way that the GOP should listen to such continual advice in the media is to do precisely the opposite of what the media and Democrats recommend.