I want to like Michael Steele. I’ve always enjoyed his input as one of the various talking heads on Fox News Channel, and I’ve admired his eloquence and his passion beyond that. Truth be told, I was excited when he was named as chairman of the Republican National Committee.
Since then, if faith in Michael Steele as the leader of a Republican Party sorely in need of leadership were a life raft, I’d be sorely in need of a bigger bucket, or at least a pair of flippers and a snorkel. With every chance, it seemed, Steele was advocating a return to the very political mistakes and ideological misinterpretation which had brought the GOP to the edge of the abyss in the first place: the party, Steele has said, needs to do more to appeal to people in the center, needs to do more to appeal to Hispanic voters, needs to quit relying upon its conservative base.
Much in the way that vacuous European types tend to blame the current economic downturn on the failure of capitalism, yet what we’ve seen has been anything but, Steele seems to place blame for the recent party troubles on the conservative base, yet the GOP as of late has done very little that could qualify as conservative.
This country continues to have many, many more people from coast to coast to consider themselves to be on the right side of the political spectrum than the left. As I mentioned last year when Arizona Sen. John McCain was wasting time courting La Raza and other center-left groups, the key to GOP success is not to woo people to cross the aisle, but rather to solidify trust and support from those already on the right side. Instead of building a bigger tent to accommodate those in the center and beyond, the GOP must patch the holes in the tent over those on the right, left for so very long out in the rain.
That being said, I’m not giving up on Michael Steele. I admire his passion. I envy his knowledge and his ability to break down issues to a level easy to understand. I just hope he realizes, before it’s too late, that a strong GOP requires that we keep in touch with the principles on which this nation was founded, and not abandon them in the name of so-called “changing times” or, worse yet, political expediency. After all, the concept of a limited federal government knows not of changing times.
In looking at Steele’s speech today, I wanted to address in particular what he said about the state of and plans for the GOP, as opposed to what he said about the president’s policies or politics. Here are my thoughts; feel free to add yours:
The fact is, we would be abandoning our responsibility if we were to be silent while they spend our country into the abyss, while they borrow money we don’t have, and while they usher in the most massive expansion of federal government control in the history of our Republic.
Well, I’ve got news for them. We aren’t going to be silent. We are going to speak up, and we are going to show that we have the courage of our convictions. We will not be afraid to agree with the president when we believe he is doing what is best for America, but neither will we be afraid to disagree with the president when we believe his actions are hurting our country.
It’s funny, the critique over at the Huffington Post points out that Steele mentioned Barack Obama’s name more than 30 times, while never even once mentioning the word “economy.” If I were a cynic, I’d posit that perhaps the two words, “Obama” and “economy,” cannot exist in the same sentence, that the former pushes the latter right out of any given phrase.
All kidding aside, it seemed to me as though Steele made mention several times of the economy, without needing to specifically employ the word at all. If anything, it is the liberals’ strict constructionist interpretation of Steele’s remarks which is most telling — I’m not so sure they understand that out-of-control government spending and borrowing money we could never repay affects the greater economy at all. To them, it’s funny-money. So long as social justice is served, damn the consequences.
So, today I’m going to talk to you about some very important turning points for our party.The first turning point is this: Today we are declaring an end to the era of Republicans looking backward. We have just endured two successive elections where we were soundly defeated. As a result, many of us, me included, have done some soul searching. We have looked closely at the places we went wrong, we have talked openly and publicly about our mistakes and our deficiencies. If you don’t learn from the past, you are of course destined to repeat it. This has been a difficult, yet healthy and necessary task for our party.
We just need to ensure that we are looking backwards enough to truly understand where we went wrong. I’m not so certain Steele is capable of that, as he looks to migrate the party to the center rather than to the right. Yesterday, in an interview with Fox News Channel’s Carl Cameron, Steele said that he was more about “addition and multiplication” rather than “subtraction and division,” a veiled shot at conservatives like former Vice President Dick Cheney, who maintained last week that running the GOP to the center would be a mistake.
Steele, in that interview, said that he doesn’t want a Republican Party that wishes to exclude people like Gen. Colin Powell. Well, frankly, I do. If Powell had anything that resembled Republican or conservative principles prior to last year, he made the decision to cast them aside because the most radically left presidential candidate in recent history had a skin color that closely resembled his own. If Steele cannot see that, and still wants a GOP that would include Colin Powell while simultaneously denigrating Dick Cheney, I want nothing to do with Steele’s GOP. From that, it seems as though Steele has not learned from the party’s mistakes in the past.
True, it doesn’t take a genius to acknowledge that the GOP abandoned its free market principles and spent like crazy during George W. Bush’s second term as president. Steele has owned up to that, as have many Republicans, and he should be lauded for it. The mistake that Steele apparently refuses to understand is the root cause of the “two successive elections where we were soundly defeated.” That cause is the moderation of the Republican Party. Regardless of whether or not he wants to look backwards, the success of the GOP and America depends upon Steele and the rest of the party understanding that moderate Republicans do not win elections, conservative Republicans do. When it comes to the difference between the Democratic and Republican parties, Americans need bold colors, not pale pastels.
The Republican Party is again going to emerge as the party of new ideas. It will take some time, for sure, but it is beginning now. Our governors are emerging with fresh answers to old problems. Some of our brightest stars in Congress are emerging with new approaches. New groups and new entities are being formed. Republicans are rising once again with the energy, the focus, and the determination to turn our timeless principles into new solutions for the future. The introspection is now over. The corner has been turned.
To ensure success in 2010 and beyond, new ideas are indeed essential. From that standpoint, I understand where Steele is coming from when he spoke about looking forward rather than back. When it comes to values and ideals, however, the Republican Party must look to the past — all the way back to our nation’s establishment. Our founders wanted a limited central government first, and everything else later. That’s where the GOP must start: base every argument, every platform on every issue on a limited role of government, and go from there. We must look to the past for a reminder of what America was designed to be; only from there can we apply modern ideas by which we can return the country to our founders’ ideals.
Focusing on the role of government will allow the GOP to appeal to concerned Americans across the political spectrum who, despite overarching ideology, find themselves wary of a federal government reaching into each facet of their daily lives. This approach to appealing to those in the center and even on the left is different than Steele’s idea of moderation; in doing so, a new GOP focused on the proper role of government can stress the idea of freedom and independence from congressional reach without abandoning core principles such as a free market, low taxes, and the sanctity of life. Moderation for the sake of moderation is wrong; expanding the scope of the GOP message by boiling down to its Jeffersonian roots is a recipe for sustained success.
The Democrats are in power. They wanted it and now we are going to make them own the results of their arrogance of power: Policies that are hurting the long-term health of our country. We are going to give voice to the growing chorus of Americans who realize that there is a difference between creating wealth and redistributing wealth. And we are not going to be shy about it. Simply put, we are going to speak truth to power.
Agreed, one hundred percent. The Democrats have dug their grave, and while America will eventually be able to claw its way out, we must ensure that the Republican Party is not only there to offer a helping hand to America, but also a firm foot keeping the Democrats where the liberal ideology belongs — six feet underground.
Unfortunately, things will get worse before they get better. Even a cursory glance at President Obama and the Democrats’ plans for energy policy, not to mention the spendthrift nature of Congress, will be enough to understand that the American economy cannot sustain a government which frowns upon success. When the proverbial feces hits the air circulation mechanism, the GOP must be there providing a focused, 180-degree alternative to the counterproductive–and contraconstitutional–ideas advanced and policies enacted by the Democrats.
There has been a great deal of talk in Republican circles about how we should deal with President Obama and the entire Obama phenomenon. Many have suggested that we need to be careful, that we need to tip-toe around President Obama, that we have to be careful not to take him on, at least not directly. This has led to some handwringing among Republicans; and quite frankly some missed opportunities. We’ve seen strategists writing memos and doing briefings urging that Republicans avoid confronting the President. Steer clear of any frontal assaults on his Administration, they warn. They suggest that instead we should go after Nancy Pelosi, whom nobody likes. Or Harry Reid, whom nobody knows. Or this Tim Geithner fellow, whom nobody believes. Or maybe even Barney Frank, whom nobody understands.
I liked Steele’s fire when it came to this statement, as well as the statements which immediately followed. Yes, Barack Obama is a celebrity. Yes, he is a likable guy. But, as Steele said, “There’s only one problem. He’s taking us in the wrong direction and bankrupting our country. Were it not for that little detail, I’d be a big fan too.”
There is no reason whatsoever that a focused GOP cannot hit hard with a run directly at the popular president, as well as at his minions and flunkies as each of them fall from grace. The key is that it takes organization, it takes focus — two qualities for which the GOP is currently wanting.
That’s not to say that things aren’t getting better. I’ve been almost brought to tears by the cohesion I’ve seen from Republicans on Capitol Hill, standing up against this administration’s efforts to forcibly exert control over American business and industry, as well as over the American people. I’ve seen focus, and I think we’re almost there — but we can, and must, do better.
Steele got it right when he said that this is not about personalities, but rather is about the “very sizeable gap emerging between America’s opinion of President Obama the man, and America’s opinion of President Obama’s policies.” At the end of the day, Steele said, “we are all about ideals, principles, policies, and ideas. We have only one goal, and it’s not power. It’s not majorities. It’s success for America.”
Absolutely correct. Now, its a matter of building trust in those Americans on the right by sticking to those ideals, principles, policies and ideas, as well as distilling the message appropriately in order to court younger voters and those who might not previously have considered pulling the “R” lever without abandoning those core values.
For me the Republican Party owes its moorings to Edmund Burke, William F. Buckley, and Ronald Reagan. Those are the people that I trace my roots to in the Republican cause. For each of them conservatism must always respect reality, effectively assess the times, and become relevant to them. Thus is our charge.
Ronald Reagan always insisted that our party must move aggressively to seize the moment. He insisted that our party recognize the truth of the times and establish our first principles in both word and deed. As conservatives, we must stop acting like we don’t really believe in our principles. Too often, we act as if we are scared to apply our timeless principles to today’s problems and challenges.
Our path and our challenge are to apply our principles not to the past, but to the future.
In this hour conservatives stand just a bit stronger, just a bit wiser, ready once again to think and act with a freshness and a boldness that is uncompromising. For conservatism to take root in the next generation we must offer genuine solutions that are relevant to this age. A Republican Renaissance has begun!
We will conquer the challenges not of the last century, but the challenges of our time. Our success will not be found in dusting off old campaign manuals from the 70′s and 80′s. Our success will be found in speaking directly to the American people about a rebirth of the American Dream for this generation and generations to come.
We have been and must be once again the voice of the majority of Americans. It is up to us to expose the great Democrat fraud that is now being thrust upon this nation. Personal freedom, liberty, and a desire for self-governing are the timeless values that Americans hold dear.
Brilliant. Apply modern ideas as to message dissemination to a message rooted in traditional, Jeffersonian values. Think big, act big, but advocate small … government.
Steele is not far off, at least not in today’s speech. He also mentioned that the success of the Republican Party will not come from Washington, D.C., but rather from state and local governments on up. That means you and me. That means that we must work together to shape our party or, if you’ve soured on the GOP because of its tendency for moderation, to renew your hope and ensure that it will not tack to the center again.
The Democrats will fail. They cannot sustain their policies — as Steele mentioned, they were designed for short-term political gain, not long-term sustainability and success. And when they fail, we must be be there as the common sense alternative, as a welcome reversion to the core idea of a limited federal government.