How to Regroup the Right?
The next two months will decide the fate of the conservative movement, and also, the Republican party, which is currently suffering from a personality disorder. If I had to give an answer right now as to whether or not I think the conservative ascension to its former prominence is a guarantee, I must honestly answer: I don't know. If I had to make a guesstimate based upon the past several weeks, I'd lean towards no. It's a reason why I'm careful in separating the titles "conservative movement" and Republican party: they are not the same. As I've written previously, this is why John McCain is now prostrate before President-Elect Obama. The GOP is still hemorrhaging.
One ways the conservative movement and Republicans will rebound within the next four years: identifying and avoiding those who surrender their identity and placate those with opposing means as a way to hang on to a shred of relevancy. Those now willing to verbally fellate those against whom they spoke so ardently during the election will neuter themselves completely.
I came across an op/ed called "Giving Up on God" from Kathleen Parker, and quite honestly I found her degree of stereotyping and her half-hearted attempt at intellectualism positively offensive:
"Religious conservatives become defensive at any suggestion that they've had something to do with the GOP's erosion. And, though the recent Democratic sweep can be attributed in large part to a referendum on Bush and the failing economy, three long-term trends identified by Emory University's Alan Abramowitz have been devastating to the Republican Party: increasing racial diversity, declining marriage rates and changes in religious beliefs.
... Suffice it to say, the Republican Party is largely comprised of white, married Christians."
I find this amusing and completely ironic, considering that the same base which she marginalizes was indisputably the very reason McCain even remained relevant, it was the reason he surged in the polls after adding Palin to his ticket. It was the reason I had about 110-some-odd emails in my station inbox saying that they voted for Palin first and McCain second and that the GOP was too moderate. It's also the party which has promoted more women and minorities to positions of power. Bush's cabinet looked like a United Colors of Benneton ad, for crying out loud.
I happened to read the Anchoresses' reply soon after and was comforted:
"Later she talks about having her “last cigarette,” because obviously, the Religious Right - all of whom look and act exactly like Carrie White’s mother - will destroy her for speaking out against what she perceives as the unhealthy dominance of religious expression within the GOP.
Parker may actually be making a point worth considering when she argues that the Religious Right is a bit louder than it (or any distinct interest) should be in a political party - and that their exuberance may be off-putting to secularists and those who practice a quieter sort of worship - but she discredits herself, and her argument, in the way she makes it, which is by calling such people gorillas and lowbrows."
People like Parker, people like Jed Babbin (who's now joined the homoerotic pile-on of George W. Bush), David Frum, and others, people who like to market themselves as stalwarts of conservatism, people who are eager to chuck their convictions out the window and purse their lips for backsides so as to gain Democratic favor. They're fair-weather conservatives. I imagine that they, much as John McCain tried to this past election, think that they only have to grovel a bit to be re-validated by the base. Sorry, but I and others are not going quietly into this good night. There needs to be a bigger disparity between the two parties because Democrat and Democrat Lite don't cut it. We've already taken the advice of disenfranchising the righty-right voters and moving the party centrist and the result was a big, giant, epic FAIL.
Another way the movement and party won't gain ground is to ignore the up-and-comers in the party, many who, contrary to Parker's sentiment, are younger, female, black, Mormon, et al. As I said earlier, out of the two parties it has bee the GOP who historically has appointed more women and minorities to upper echelon positions within the political sphere. However, those are "safe" positions. Those positions won't put the person holding the title into the role of leading the party or configuring its trajectory. They won't become the face of the party or movement and it's difficult to run after holding such a position because if the administration was bad, the hopes of an executive position are all but dashed. (This is a huge reason Hillary Clinton was said to have been hesitant in accepting Secretary of State.) The Republican party is rich in old white people to be sure, but it also needs to account for, and value, its credit in the young (Conservative Women United is actually celebrating the number), female, and minority demographics. I previously wrote how Sarah Palin scared the party; now I think the GOP leadership is starting to get a clue, and their first good gesture was to recognize Michael Steele, a black Roman Catholic and former Lt. Governor of Maryland (who draws comparisons with regards to policy to Alan Keyes) as the top candidate for the GOP chair. In a bloggers' call - a first for an RNC Chair (even prospective chair) Steele remarked that some Republicans were "whiny." Leslie Carbone recounts the interview:
"We are the conservative party," Lt. Gov. Steele reminded his audience. He called last week's trouncing at the polls a "repudiation of Republicans' failure to lead" and condemned those who call for the Republican Party to become the "Democrat-lite" Party ...
The way back for the GOP, said Mr. Steele, is to return to its core values, including the value of life, the value of hard work, the value of security, and the value of enterprise."
Well, at least SOMEONE in the GOP is paying attention. Carbone includes in her post a link to a previous entry on conservative renaissance:
"Economic and political freedom, individual responsibility, and finite government are not matters of personal preference. Nor are they matters, as the wealth-spreaders like to claim, of greed, unfairness, or un-neighborliness.
They are principles that work. They foster prosperity, in the full sense of the term.
If this understanding has diminished, if these principles have lost some luster over the last two decades, that's in no small measure due to the big-government Republicans who gave them lip service while collaborating with liberals in undermining them. And this craven collaboration is part of why the world faces economic trouble.
Republicans can continue to kow-tow to the whiners who want government to kiss away all their boo-boos, [cough, bailout, cough] to bail them out of the consequences of their own irresponsibility, to regulate life into comfort and fairness."
The discussion about why we lost has become almost wall of white noise, but until those directing the path of the GOP fully get why we lost the endless buzzing is a necessity. This marks another way that we can avoid to fall behind further: realize the past mistakes and use the next four years as an exercise in doing it right.
The Democrats have a majority, not a filibuster-proof majority; and Republicans need to fight bigger government and higher taxes in the form if entitlement packages; they need to stand for individualism and be the legislative defensive line against creating a course of rule where Uncle Sam becomes a nanny. From Smart Girl Politics:
"The Democrats will need help from Republicans to "get it done" even in January."
So will the American people. I hope in their zest to play nice, GOP lawmakers don't forget this.
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