Regardless of whether Obama wins on Tuesday or not, it is clear that Democrats are dominating the national landscape – from holding a majority of governorships to a solid lock on both houses of Congress. In such a hostile environment, can the Republican party hope to recover? Can there be a conservative renaissance as GayPatriot believes?
The Republican Party has been the primary vehicle for conservativism in America, but the party itself is on life-support. Since President Bush has been the defacto head of the party for the last eight years, the calamitous state of the party rests with him and his administration. Having come to power as a stalwart conservative in 2000, the President turned his back on the conservative base by pursuing policies anathema to it; he’s now leaving office with a larger government in place than he found in 2001, and a federal budget deficit that is worse than that of any Democratic administration since FDR. Of everything the president has been blamed by the Left, this is the one criticism that sticks.
Having strayed from its core principles one could argue that the party should simply return to them and American voters would reward the party. Unfortunately the reality is not that simple. America of today is not the same that swept Ronald Reagan to power in 1980 and led to his landslide in 1984. America of 2008 is not that of 1994 when a generation of conservatives came to power led by Newt Gingrich and the Contract for America banner.
In order to take back power the Republican Party must change with the times yet stick to the core principles that unite the broadest segment of conservatives as well as the independents the party needs in order to win elections. It’s a unique blend of new and old ideas that begins with a reassessment of what the party’s core values truly are.
What are they? Let’s start by taking a look at the 2008 Republican Party Platform. Here we find yet another example of how the party has strayed from its core principles. The platform looks and reads like an annual report from a corporation. And does “Supporting Native American Communities” rise to the same level of importance as “Preserving America’s Property Rights” or “Ensuring Equal Treatment For All”? What exactly does “Ensuring Equal Treatment For All” mean anyway?
Buried within the values section of the platform are these gems:
- Individual rights – and the responsibilities that go with them – are the foundation of a free society.
- At the center of a free economy is the right of citizens to be secure in their property.
The primacy of the individual is the heart of the conservative movement and the core of the Republican Party. Everything that the Republican party offers should flow from these two values. So what about these values that are spelled out in the platform?
We uphold the right of individual Americans to own firearms – covered by Individual Rights.
We support freedom of speech and freedom of the press – ditto.
Our Constitution guarantees the free exercise of religion – ditto.
However the following “values” in the platform don’t belong because they undermine individual rights and property rights. These are the party’s sacred cows and ones that must be carefully reconsidered and if necessary led to slaughter if the party hopes to remain the champion of individual rights.
The symbol of our unity, to which we all pledge allegiance, is the flag. – Who got this inserted into the platform – students of Carl Jung? America got along fine for over 100 years without the pledge of allegiance. The flag is a symbol, and burning it or desecrating it does not damage or tarnish what the flag symbolizes. Banning flag burning goes against individual rights. Besides, it didn’t get much traction in the 1992 election and gets even less today.
...we assert the inherent dignity and sanctity of all human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed – What about when the mother’s life is in danger? What about cases of rape and incest? Except for the few at either extreme, abortion falls into a grey area that has not been accepted or recognized by the modern Republican party. This issue – and the Republican party stance – needs to be modeled to reflect the complex view that Americans have towards abortion. Most are appalled by it, yet are equally concerned about the government control over a woman’s body a ban would entail.
Because our children’s future is best preserved within the traditional understanding of marriage, we call for a constitutional amendment that fully protects marriage… - With the possible exception of flag burning, no plank in the Republican Party platform is as rotten and wormeaten as this one. By speaking of “our children’s future” the party is reaching for societal rights to trump individual rights – the antithesis of the core belief respecting the primacy of the individual. It also contradicts the “free exercise of religion” by continuing the tradition whereby the state meddles in religious affairs.
Marriage is a religious agreement, not a civil one, and should be decided by the religions themselves. If Christians want to ban marriages between two women or two men, then so be it; those same people can enter into legal agreements of incorporation that determine division of property. How about three women? A brother and sister? As long as everyone is of legal age and of sound mind then they can enter into any legal arrangement that they want. But they cannot marry – nor can the state force a religion to act against its own religious principles and conduct one.
As I have written elsewhere, the GOP needs to embrace gays not out of pure self interest but philosophy. Nothing is more personal, no right is as individual as the right to choose whom to love. Besides, it seems like the only place that Democrats don’t like Big Goverment is in the bedroom, so why should the Republicans embrace it? Tossing this platform plank won’t result in large numbers of gays joining the party, but it will align the party better with its own principles.
A healthy and vibrant Republican Party is the best way to protect its core values. Over the coming years these values will be tested more than ever before, so its critical that the Party rejuvenate itself. In an Obama-dominated government it must
- Recognize that it cannot continue business as usual if the party and its principles are to survive.
- Respect the power of the electorate to make decisions in its own best interest.
- Conduct a fearless and honest inventory of its beliefs and values.
That’s only a start, but there will be plenty of time to take these steps over the coming months if Obama wins.