While thinking about how to rebuild the Republican Party, I keep asking myself a few questions, mainly:
- What does it mean to be Republican?
- What does it mean to be "conservative?"
- Does "winning" matter?
The first two questions I'll leave for another post, but I'll share my thoughts on the third question now.
To begin with, of course winning matters! Without electing people to office who will champion our cause, it will cease to exist as nothing more than an intellectual exercise. BUT ... winning ... it certainly matters WHAT wins, and not just WHO ... doesn't it?
This is America, so third-party candidates DO matter. In other words, as Americans, we like choices and options and we don't like to be confined and limited in what's available for our consumption. Now the argument can be made that even this is nothing more than an intellectual exercise, because the "reality" is that "only the two major parties have the chance to win." That may be true, however, I think it's a fallacy to believe that voting third-party can't make a difference, simply because they "can't win."
Here in Michigan for example, it was clear that Barack Obama would win the electoral votes. Not only was he leading in the polls by a wide margin, but McCain didn't even take campaigning here seriously. He basically wrote our electoral votes off, even pulling his campaign completely out of our state early. So if most Republican voters, as I believe, are at odds with the way the Republican Party governs, but they voted for McCain anyways, what voice did they have? What message did that vote send?
The message sent was clearly "Hey, we'll vote for anyone the Republican Party gives us, even if they are at odds with our personal points of view." Now, being that there wasn't even an outside chance of McCain winning our electoral votes, what message would have been sent by Republican voters if they had instead voted for Bob Barr (L) or wrote-in Representative Ron Paul (R)? Even if just 10-20% of Republican voters did so?
It would have sent a loud message that "we the people" want a Constitutionally limited government, free markets, and lower taxes, and that unless the Republican Party starts delivering, they will lose a large voting block - or in other words, market share. That's something that could actually make a difference! A vote that truly has a voice!
So this brings me to two conclusions:
- When we think of the concept of "winning" in regards to politics, we think of getting said politician elected. But in reality, we (as individuals and families) actually LOSE, because our philosophy didn't even gain an inch.
- It's time that Republicans voters outside his district - all Republicans - start taking Ron Paul more seriously!
Personally, I find Ron Paul to be the most misunderstood politician out there. Leftists jump on his bandwagon because they believe he's anti-war, but the reality is he's not against war in general, just the Iraq War, and conservatives and "intellectuals" attempt to brush him off as "isolationist" and/or "conspiratorial." Yet BOTH claims are FALSE.
To consider Paul an isolationist, is to literally change the definition of the word. And to claim him as a "conspiracy nut," because he entertains some of the wackiest of them (Alex Jones et. al.), completely ignores reality. Paul doesn't believe the "truther" garbage, but he does openly condemn many things going on in the government that only a sitting 10-term member of Congress would even know about.
I mean ... if you believe politicians on either side of the isle are by and large open/transparent, then I've got a teriffic bridge to sell you. My email is available in the "About" section, I'll make you a good deal.
If being openly willing to communicate and share ideas with the most anti-state people among us, even if they're a bit crazy, disqualifies you from being taken seriously ... then we've lost everything America stands for, and the anti-state creed our country and society was founded upon.
So if we no longer distrust our government, then we might as well tear up the Declaration of Independence and Constitution and throw them in the garbage. Is that where we're at today?
Which brings me to the man himself, Ron Paul, who over on CNN says "Now, in light of the election, many are asking: What is the future of the Republican Party? But that is the wrong question. The proper question should be: Where is our country heading?"
In the rise and fall of the recent Republican reign of power these past decades, the goal of the party had grown to be only that of gaining and maintaining power -- with total sacrifice of the original Republican belief in shrinking the size of government.
Most Republicans endorsed this view in order to achieve victories at the polls. Limiting government power and size with less spending and a balanced budget as the goal used to be a "traditional" Republican value. This is what Goldwater and Reagan talked about. That is what the Contract with America stood for.
The opportunity finally came in 2000 to do something about the cancerous growth of government. This clear message led to the Republican success at the polls.
Once the Republicans were in power, though, the promises faded, and all policies were directed at maintaining or increasing power by trying to whittle away at Democratic strength by acting like big-spending Democrats.
Party leaders concentrated only on political tricks in order to maintain power and neglected the limited-government principles on which they were elected. The only solution for this is for Republicans to once again reassess their core beliefs and show how the country (not the party) can be put back on the right track.
... persistent and expanded attacks on our privacy, runaway deficits, and now nationalization of the financial system, Republicans are going to have a tough time regaining the confidence of the American people. But that's what must be done.
Otherwise, Republicans can only mimic Democrats and hope for an isolated victory here and there. And that's just more of the same that brought on the disintegration of the party.
During the debates in the Republican Presidential primary, even though I am a 10-term sitting Representative Member of Congress, I was challenged more than once on my Republican credentials.
Why should one be excluded from the Republican Party for believing and always voting for:
Limited government power
A balanced budget
Strict adherence to the Constitution
A strong defense while avoiding all undeclared wars
No nation-building and no policing the world
How can a party that still pretends to be the party of limited government distance itself outright from these views and expect to maintain credibility?
... the Republican Party ha[s] lost its way and must reassess its values ... in a hurry.
If the Republican Party can grasp hold of the needed reforms, it can lead the way and regain its credibility. If power is sought for power's sake alone, the Party will never be able to wrench away the power of the opposition.
... I found that when the young people heard the message of liberty, they overwhelmingly responded favorably, fully realizing the failure of the status quo and the need to once again endorse a system of self reliance, personal responsibility, sound money, and a non-interventionist foreign policy while rejecting the cradle-to-grave nanny state all based on the rule of law and the Constitution.
To ignore the political struggle and only "hope for the best" is pure folly. The march toward a dictatorial powerful state is now in double time.
If there's a conservative out there who disagrees with Paul's message, let me know. You can voice your opinion in the comments section below.
Maybe our country IS on a collision course of greater magnitude than even I can imagine ... but I certainly hope not.