[T]he public good is disregarded in the conflicts of rival parties, and that measures are too often decided, not according to the rules of justice and the rights of the minor party, but by the superior force of an interested and overbearing majority.—James Madison, Federalist 10
I’ve read and heard a lot of claptrap since the election. Unfortunately, it emanates from both Democrats and Republicans. It’s frustrating. Pat Caddell calls Democrats the corrupt party and Republicans the stupid party. He certainly seems to have a handle on things.
Here’s an example. A supposed college student published an editorial in the Wall Street Journal immediately after the election bemoaning her loneliness on campus. To attract young people, she insisted the Republican Party had to distance themselves from the religious and renounce Rush Limbaugh and his ilk. Let’s see, progressives dominate the judiciary, schools at all levels, popular culture, the main stream media, the permanent governing class, unions, professional organizations like AARP, foundations, any city with a coastline, and have corrupted the corporate managerial class. And to win elections, we’re supposed to abandon our only remaining centers of strength. That makes as much sense as a losing baseball team trading away their 300 hitters.
What happened between 2010 and 2012. Nobody wants to talk about that because everyone is complicit in damaging the Tea Party– the greatest spontaneous political movement since the Revolution. Republicans made enormous gains in 49 states in 2010, (California was the outlier) taking over the House, picking up seats in the Senate, adding governorships, making big gains—or even taking over—state legislatures. Now, pundits on both sides want to compare this race to the McCain debacle in 2008. Agreed, that was the last presidential run, but the tsunamic Tea party movement should have made the progressive 2008 sweep a temporary blip in American history. It didn’t because Democrats and their minions ruthlessly demonized the Tea Party, the Republican establishment relentlessly marginalized the Tea Party, and the Tea Party organized until it sapped away its populous energy. That’s like a winning baseball team trading away their 20 game-winning pitchers.
Losing an election like this one is more than hard, it’s possibly catastrophic. Smug progressives again look unbeatable. Who’s to blame? Everybody is pointing fingers at everyone else. The irony is that Democrats and the Republican establishment are trying to pin the loss on the Tea Party. Yes, that sentence is correct. The republican establishment is still denigrating the movement that singlehandedly caused a reversal of the progressive juggernaut. Caddell is right. If Republicans were smart, they would never sing harmony with their opponents.
If Republicans are going to be a viable force in the future, then the beltway wisdom is that it must shift away from the right to appeal to more voters. This is couched in terms like becoming more inclusive to appeal to the young, minorities, and single women. Except that you can’t dance to the left of a progressive. If you crowd their space, they shuffle further leftward … wearing a big grin.
Americans—all Americans—will follow principled leadership. Pandering only buys votes for a single election cycle. Firm adherence to fundamental American principles wins repeated mandates election after election. The Republican Party must decide which principles it supports and make every decision based on whether it furthers those principles. Too idealistic? Not for our Founders. They shared common principles and those principles allowed them to accomplish the impossible. Those principles are the basis for American Exceptionalism. Without them we are only a land mass inhabited by human beings.
Many are predicting the demise of Republicans. Let me join the choir. The Republican Party will return to their roots and become proponents of our founding principles … or they will go the way of the Whig Party.
James D. Best is the author of the Steve Dancy Tales and Tempest at Dawn, a novel about the 1787 Constitutional Convention. Look for his new book, Principled Action, Lessons from the Origins of the American Republic.