10.01.2008 0

The Elephant in the Room…and What to Do With It

  • On: 10/13/2008 11:33:21
  • In: Government Transparency
  • Tom DeLay has stirred up controversy yet again, this time by pointing out the elephant in the room—the weakened, disoriented, and confused elephant.

    Now severed from the political sphere in Washington, the former Republican leader is free to speak his mind, and that is exactly what he has been doing. In an interview for Monday’s Washington Times, Mr. DeLay offered a critical look at the Republican Party and offered some telling insight regarding the 2008 Presidential race.

    “The conservatives refuse to accept that the left is cleaning their clock, and until you hit some bottom, wherever that is, to where it says, ‘Well, maybe we ought to do something different,’ little or nothing’s going to change… I think it’s going to take years to rebuild the party.”

    Although there is certainly a great deal of truth in DeLay’s statements, one cannot help but consider the legacy that Mr. DeLay himself leaves behind and ask if the former House Majority Leader might be one reason the GOP has found itself where it is today. Does the Republican Party need rebuilding because people like Tom DeLay helped tear it down?

    The answer seems to yes…at least in part.

    Tom DeLay has been the poster boy for Republican scandal for a number of years, having been indicted on criminal charges for conspiring to violate campaign finance charges and for having questionable ties to Jack Abramoff. The list, however, does not stop here. Other notables include former Florida Representative Mark Foley, Idaho Senator Larry Craig, California Representative Duke Cunningham, and more.

    The corrupt practices, scandals, and negligence of Tom DeLay and his counterparts cannot be ignored—nor should they be the sole focus. After all, scandal and corruption are certainly not foreign to the Democratic Party and are unfortunately part and parcel of politics as a whole (this is government we’re talking about).

    The failures of Mr. DeLay and others, while disconcerting in and among themselves, are ultimately just a symptom of the disease with has plagued Republicans for nearly twelve years—the disease of purposelessness and lack of direction. It seems as if the Republican Party has increasingly lost its grasp on the underlying vision of the Republican Party, the vision of conservative leadership and limited government.

    Pot-and-kettle issues aside, Mr. DeLay makes some valid points regarding this notion.

    He mentions the Republicans failure to compete with Democrats in garnering support behind their cause, citing, among other examples, Republicans’ inability to build up a grassroots conservative movement:

    “People out there that are making decisions are not focusing, in my opinion, on what it’s going to take to rebuild the conservative movement and rebuild the Republican Party. They’re living with 10-, 15-year-old technology. They still believe if you raise enough money, go on television enough, you’re going to win. Those days are over.”

    Republican presidential nominee John McCain is not spared the criticism either. Mr. DeLay calls out the senator for not aggressively reaching out to the conservative base and for wavering with regard to important political issues:

    “On the one hand, he’s maybe telling himself, look, I won this nomination by appealing to people other than the base, so I know how to win. On the other [hand], his people are telling him, ‘No, you’ve got to have the base to win.’ So, OK, I’ll go do a speech on spending and the economy and be very conservative, and I’m going to appoint good judges, and then two days later, he goes and does a speech in Oregon on global warming.”

    It’s a painful pill to swallow but the reality is that the GOP and its leaders have lost the vision once championed by Ronald Reagan. Senator McCain since his early career has drifted farther and farther from the ideals of limited government while Democrats appear to be snowballing support for their leftist agenda.

    “The Hammer” has hit the nail on the head: rebuilding the conservative base—and more importantly refocusing on its original principles limited government and the rule of law—is vital to the future prospects of his party. The party’s infrastructure can be remade, but if it lacks its most essential ingredient—a philosophy of liberty—it will continue to wander in the dark.

    Although the nation may suffer tremendously as a result, an Obama presidency may be the only thing that will let the GOP know it has bottomed out. It could be the kick needed to sober up the Republicans to the fact that something has gone horribly awry.

    As Mr. DeLay noted, it could take more than a decade to rebuild the party and its conservative base, and the sooner they get started, the better.


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