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11.01.2008 0

Pruning the Party

  • On: 11/06/2008 11:42:13
  • In: Conservative Movement
  • By Isaac MacMillen

    Following the drubbing John McCain endured on Tuesday, the inevitable calls for Republicans to reject conservative ideology and move further towards the center have already begun to appear. If the GOP wishes to endure—let alone conquer—it must resist these siren songs of compromise. For there is no easy way to take the hard road back to respectability.

    In 1952, during an intense fight between backers of Robert Taft and Dwight Eisenhower, Senator Everett Dirksen lashed out at former candidate Thomas Dewey, who was heavily involved in Ike’s campaign:

    “We followed you before and you took us down the road to defeat. And don’t do this to us again.”

    When faced with despair in 2004—after the latest in a string of defeats—the Democratic Party did not turn centrist. Instead, it gave the chairmanship over to the proudly partisan, far-left Howard Dean. Dean began revitalizing the party from the ground up, urging it to stand upon its principles and make Republicans pay for every inch of ground they took.

    Said Tom McMahon, the DNC’s executive director, in 2005:

    “Governor Dean has committed to you that our party will do things differently. You asked for a truly national party that’s both willing and able to fight for every vote.

    “To do that we need to break the traditional boom-and-bust cycle — we can’t wait until a few months before an election to gear up. We have to build a permanent presence in every state right now to be ready for 2006, 2008 and beyond.”

    The conservative movement—and its most accessed vehicle, the Republican Party—must embrace that same relentless attitude. Of course, the GOP—and by extension, the conservative movement—has suffered severe losses. But the Dean Model is the key to renewal. Though some races are still being counted, the Democrats have, in just four years, gained close to 50 house seats, about a dozen Senate seats, and the presidency.

    Of course there are multitudes of other factors in play—many of which were against the Republicans. And many issues were the fault of the party; it had left its conservative roots. But history valued only as nostalgia cannot provide a vision for the future. The Republican Party needs to learn its lessons, patch its wounds, and jump right back into the fight, using the tactics that will work for it. Enough “Mr. Nice-Guy;” America needs a party that will put those who work hard—not those who hardly work—first. America needs a party that will embrace free enterprise. America needs a party that deflates the bumbling behemoth that is its Big Government (largely the fault of the Republicans themselves).

    Those (and they are legion) inside the party who consistently pander to the left should take warning. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and the big-spenders and free-wheelers of the past will only hurt the movement in the future. Those who claim to embrace conservative ideals would do well to actually employ them. And those in key Republican National Committee positions who have put personal gain above the party’s good need to be unceremoniously shown the door. In short, its time for the “good old boys” to become the “gone old boys.”

    In 1960, Senator Barry Goldwater addressed a moderate-controlled Republican Party (which would go on to lose the election to a young, charismatic senator). Appalled at the compromise of core principles going on within his party, he called on conservatives to “grow up. If we want to take this party back, and I think we can, let’s get to work.”

    It’s time for the conservative remnant within the Grand Old Party to grow up and get to work. Republicans are not a dying breed because they embraced their conservative roots. No; they have suffered defeat because they claimed to embrace those ideals while their actions scorned them.

    In order to revive the party—one that truly stands for individual liberty—they must get serious about where they stand, who they stand with, and who stands with them. It’s time to turn a deaf ear to the siren song of compromise—and take the “road less traveled” to putting unparalleled principle above politics as usual. In short, the time has come to get tough.

    Isaac MacMillen is a contributing editor of ALG News Bureau.

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