This is Part 3 of my speech to the Fallen Timbers Republican Club. Part 1 was "What went wrong" and Part 2 was "What went right."
Where do we go from here?
Nationally – we need to stop the idea of the ‘next in line.’
The Republican Party needs to learn from the left and build coalitions – focusing on where we agree rather than where we don’t. The party needs to embrace and welcome the Tea Parties – looking upon them as the conscience of the party rather than the challenger to power.
The economy will remain a key factor, especially if Pres. Obama continues his failed policies and we need to remember that minorities are as interested in jobs as non-minorities. But the way we communicate that message has to be better than the Democrats' message.
Kevin Williamson, National Review reporter, wrote:
"…offering Americans a check is a more fruitful political strategy than offering them the opportunity to take control of and responsibility for their own lives. This is what Oakeshott had in mind when he wrote that liberty was something that many people simply are not equipped to “enjoy as an opportunity rather than suffer as a burden.”
For many years, Republicans have relied on Jude Wanniski’s “Two Santa Claus” theory, the strategy of using the promise of tax cuts to compete with Democrats’ promises of cash and other benefits. In part as a consequence of that strategy, a great many Americans pay little or no federal income taxes, while many of the other federal taxes they pay are indirect or partly hidden. Mitt Romney was right: You can’t use tax cuts to buy off people who are net recipients of tax transfers. Figuring out what we can offer them that is consistent with our principles is the task of conservatives between now and the next election.
Rush Limbaugh also referenced the idea of Obama as Santa Claus. While many of us still believe in the concept of Santa, we know there is no army of elves working tirelessly day and night to magically create whatever toys or goodies are on wish list. The American public, as much as they might like to believe that, knows it as well. That is the analogy we use.
House Republicans need to continue to hold the line. We maintained control of the House in spite of being demagogued as obstructionists. We need to understand that our House wins are as valuable and as much of a mandate as Obama’s White House win.
We do not capitulate to Obama, but maintain our position as the loyal opposition.
We must also remember that all things political are cyclical. So we’re not on top right now. It’s natural to feel demoralized at what is occurred, especially because so many in the fight are actually new to it. But the fact that Obama won, or the levies passed, does not mean that our principles are any less valuable to the nation or the people that they were on Monday.
We just haven’t made the case as well as we could and should have.
People are forgetful and they’re becoming accustomed to having everything happen like in a 30-minute sitcom.
Erick Erickson of RedState.com wrote today (Thursday):
No immigrant comes to the United States wanting to be on welfare. They come for a better life of hard work and success. What conservatives forget is that people forget.
And conservatives have done a terrible job reminding people.
Since Ronald Reagan rose from the ashes of the Goldwater movement, Republicans have articulated a message of freedom and opportunity — a rugged individualism that says if you work hard you can be what you want and do what you want. But people forget.
In the last decade or so, Republicans began to assume everyone just naturally agreed. They stopped explaining. They stopped being evangelists. Worse, conservatism morphed into Republicanism and instead of being about ideas, both became about the acquisition of power for the sake of power. Republicans no longer articulated a core set of principles through policy, but policies designed solely to keep them in power. The party leaders and many of its candidates began to do the same — freedom became a platitude, not a policy.
During Barack Obama’s tenure, Republicans tried to blur every line, make every compromise, and often surrendered before a weapon was even pointed at them. They did not articulate a positive conservative vision, but a defensive position that Obama was bad and they were good with little to show for it. They cut deals that sold out their core to preserve their power. They do so even today.
Republicans assumed Americans got it. They assumed Americans and Republicans were still speaking the same language. But they weren’t.
Politics is cyclical and Americans are forgetful. Republicans forgot that. They failed to keep advancing. They failed to keep explaining. They relied on the tried and true that became the tired and stale.
Tax cuts? Yay!
But what else? Under Republicans and Democrats alike, the tax code has grown more complex, the lobbyist class has grown richer, and the banks have gotten too big to fail.
Moving forward, the conservative movement from within the GOP needs to advance new ideas, not just dust off and repackage old ideas. The principles remain the same. The principles are fixed. But the ideas that advance those principles must fit into the twenty-first century.
Issues like education reform, tax reform, welfare reform, repealing Obamacare are all popular topics. Americans still agree with these things and, like I said before, talking about welfare reform did not hurt us with seniors and actually helps us with younger voters.
Erickson further explains that Conservatism’s ideas don’t just make people prosperous, they help the poor and the needy. People who need – and deserve – a helping hand are best helped by a limited government that lifts people up.
He also notes something very important: being an obstructionist is not a bad thing when we are preventing really bad ideas that history shows are failures. America is great and it is conservatism that helped make it that way.
Additionally, we have to challenge and end the careers of Republicans who claim to uphold our party’s principles and then vote otherwise – nationally, at the state level and at the local level.
We have to pick battles big enough to matter but small enough to win. We have to learn from the left in this regard. They are often willing to sacrifice a few elected offices to move their ball down the field, as they did with the passage of Obamacare. We need to be willing to sacrifice a few "Republican"-held seats when the individuals who hold them are not acting in concert with the core principles of the Republican Party.
We need to re-take the Lucas County Republican Party. It has utterly failed. It raises no money to support candidates, it has no candidate recruitment plan, it does not espouse the principles of the Republican Party, and it does not speak for Republicans.
We need to stop supporting people simply because of their party designation and hold them accountable for their votes, comments and positions that are contrary to our Republican principles.
When democrats go against their party, they are crucified for doing so. There’s a lot to be learned from that tactic. Elected Republicans should feel more heat from us when they go against our principles than they do from Democrats for standing for them.
Let me repeat that: Republicans should feel more heat from us when they go against our principles than they do from Democrats for standing for them.
We need to be MORE involved. We need to attend school board meetings, township trustee, council and commissioner meetings. We need to record what is going on and share that with others.
And we need to take advantage of the tools available to us – the Internet, social media, and opportunities to talk to others – to share the message.
We need to counter the media – loudly. How many here still subscribe to The Blade or watch local TV news? Why???? Why are you supporting entities that directly go against your best interests? Did any of you see local media talking about the percentage increase in funding the levies were asking for?
They didn't - and it's our fault because we allow it to stand without rebuttal and then put money in their pockets to continue their biases.
We need to be the fact-checkers on everything local politicians say and local media repeats. And we don’t demonize the source in doing so - the facts will stand without personal attacks on the individual.
We need to strategize better – we as individuals, because that used to be something left up to the party and, well ... see above.
Right now, you may be discouraged, depressed or even heart sick as I was yesterday (Wednesday).
I read a post by KrisAnne Hall who teaches the Constitution. She had some good quotes that should remind us about the real struggle for freedom – from people actively involved in the revolution:
John Adams, in a letter to his wife Abigail, wrote:
"I am wearied out with expectation that the Massachusetts troops would have arrived e’er now at headquarters. Do our people intend to leave the continent in the lurch? Do they mean to submit? … Do they wish to see another crippled, disastrous, and disgraceful campaign, for want of an army? I am more sick and more ashamed of my own countrymen, then ever I was before…I am a fool, if ever there was one, being such a slave. I won't be much longer. I will be more free in some world or other. It is not tolerable, that the opening spring, which I should enjoy with my wife and children, upon my little farm, should pass away…Posterity! You will never know how much it costs to the present generation to preserve your freedom! I hope you will make good use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in heaven that I ever took pains to preserve it."
And one from Mercy Otis Warren – do you know her? She was a poet and a historian, and one of the few women who wrote about the Revolution. Her brother was the noted patriot and lawyer James Otis, who is credited with the quote "taxation without representation is tyranny", the principal slogan of the American Revolution.
"I have my fears. Yet, notwithstanding the complicated difficulties that arise before us, there is no receding; and I should blush if in any instance the week passions of my sex damp the fortitude, the patriotism, and the manly resolve of yours. May nothing ever check that glorious spirit of freedom which inspires the patriots in the cabinet, and the hero in the field, with the courage to maintain their righteous cause, and to endeavor to transmit the claim to posterity, even if they must seal the rich conveyance to their children with their own blood."
I agree with Hall when she said (paraphrased), 'We don't do this for us. We certainly don't do this for the millions out there who obviously have no intent to think for themselves. We do this for liberty. We do this for our children.'
This reasoning is why our founders were able to pledge life and fortune and sacred honor for a generation that they would never know. They believed in their hearts and in their souls that without liberty, life was not worth living. Mercy said, "we will stand against tyranny today, or our children will bow tomorrow." How can we, have any less resolve? How can we even consider wavering in our stand, much less quitting altogether? What an insult to our framers.
As Andrew Breitbart preached, this is a war. It’s a never-ending, constant struggle for the hearts and minds of our fellow man - and it is not over with a single battle.
Now is not the time to give up… now is the time to lead. Are you ready to do so?