Saturday, November 08, 2008

Understanding the Republican Disaster

A.C. Kleinheider pointed me to this plan for rebuilding the Republican Party. The plan document talks a lot about making better use of technology and building party infrastructure to raise money and recruit candidates to compete all across the country. It is not a bad plan as far as it goes. The problem is that it does not go to the root of the problem.

Getting better organized is always a good idea, but the Republican repudiation has not resulted from bad organization or a failure to communicate. The country knows what Republicans say they stand for, but it has also noted the disconnect between what Party leaders say and what they actually do.

In 2006, I heard Grover Norquist, the leader of Americans for Tax Reform, participate in a panel discussion at the National Conference of State Legislatures. Mr. Norquist has long been a loud advocate for low taxes and limited government, but he also has been an active participant in former House Speaker Tom Delay's K Street Project, which is designed to use the federal coffers to fund friends of Republicans, and he was a collaborater going back to his College Republican days of corrupt Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff. In addition, at the time of the panel discussion, federal spending was skyrocketing under Republican leadership.

Thus, as Mr. Norquist carried on and on about Republicans being the party of low taxes and small government, I kept waiting for someone in the room to call BS. No one did that day, but in November 2006 and 2008, the American people have called BS.

If Republicans want to get better organized, I am all for it. However, if they want to understand what has really overtaken them, they might also pay attention to Tom Coburn (HT: Instapundit):

Conservatives find the charge that they have been suddenly expelled from American political life surreal because we have been a minority within the majority, then a minority within the minority, since 1996. Conservatives have been consciously marginalized ever since the new Republican majority decided inconvenient promises like term limits were no longer necessary now that the "good guys" were in charge. And, as far back as 1997, Republican leaders initiated the Republican leadership policy of referring to conservatives as "you conservatives"--a troublesome band best kept outside of the Republican machinery that was busy doing important work like constructing the K Street Project.

While establishment Republicans find solace in complaining about the demands from the right, the record of history shows that virtually every warning and call for internal reform conservatives have offered since 1996 has been vindicated. It was conservatives who indicted the corrupting practice of pork-barrel spending long before sitting members were formally indicted. It was conservatives who warned that budget surpluses would quickly disappear in an environment of out-of-control spending and decimate the Republican brand. It was conservatives who insisted that a culture of oversight was more important to our long-term success than a culture of parochialism.

Therefore, what led the Republican Party to this day was not the application of conservative principles but the abandonment of those principles while hypocritically appealing to those tenets.

If Republican leaders decide that it is sufficient to make better use of the internet and get better organized to push the same old same old, they may have a rude awakening in 2010.

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