The New Jersey Star-Ledger has posted an editorial following the defection of GOP Senator Arlen Specter to the democrats, leaving them with a filabuster-proof majority in the senate. Here are a few excerpts, followed by my analysis.
Republican Party is slipping into irrelevance as Sen. Arlen Specter and voters bail
Back in the Reagan era, the Republican Party advertised itself as a "big tent," a collection of conservatives, independents, recovering liberals, even Reagan Democrats. Today, by comparison, it's little more than a pup tent.
Much is made of the Grand Old Party's latest evidence of shrinkage -- Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter's defection to the Democrats. Too little is made of the fact that in Obama's Washington the GOP is increasingly irrelevant at a time of great crisis when a vibrant opposition voice is vital.
It's not good for the country. One-party dominance has too often been a recipe for recklessness.
The party lacks the two things normally deemed essential to political success: nimble, attractive leaders and a message right for the times.
But it's on the vital subject of message that the GOP is most clearly bankrupt. Its all-purpose cure for everything that ails the country is tax cuts and/or reduced government spending. That won't do; it might if times were good, but not now, with the economy on dead stop and needing a jolt.
A CBS News-NY Times poll reports that 70 percent of those surveyed believe the opposition is motivated primarily by politics, not principle. (Emphasis added.)
Posted by Zemack on 04/30/09 at 9:21PM
I agree with the editors that in America today "a vibrant opposition voice is vital". But opposition to what?
We just completed eight years of big government, statist republican rule. That trend is accelerating under Obama. Both parties are on the same highway to tyranny. The difference is only a matter of speed, and the fact that the GOP's brand of statism masquerades under the banner of "free markets". The democrats, however, are not so hypocritical. They are openly proclaiming that freedom has failed. Beneath the rhetoric, though, both parties are pointed in the same direction.
But the across-the-board statist push by the Obama-led democrats has exposed clearly the fundamental battle lines. It's no longer liberal vs. conservative. It's the age-old battle between the individual and the state. Using the government-created financial crisis as a cover, the democrats are in open rebellion against the American Revolution and the U.S. Constitution. They have launched a breathtaking, multi-front socialist agenda...bringing it in through the fascist back door. To advance their purposes, they have exhumed from the graveyard of history the skeletal remains of the ideology that ravaged the 20th century with tyranny, war, and genocide...collectivism.
What is not needed today is an opposition political party that simply holds its finger in the air to determine which way the popular wind is blowing...or, as the Star-Ledger puts it, to seek "a message right for the times". The battle is firmly ideological. The basic moral question is; does the individual have an unalienable right to his own life, or is he a subject of the state? Does he have a right to pursue his own happiness, or is he a state-owned slave to the needs of others?
Clearly, the Democrats have come down squarely on the side of the collective society and the authoritarian state. The GOP must shed the labels of the party of business and the party of the Religious Right and become, first and foremost, the party of the individual. America desperately needs a principled opposition with the courage to present America with a true "choice, not an echo". This means to embrace the following twin pillars of a truly free society:
The separation of religion and state...which means to reject the Christian Right's anti-rights agenda on the marriage amendment, stem cell research, abortion, public school prayer, faith-based initiatives, anti-First Amendment "obscenity" restrictions, etc. (By "Christian Right" I mean political Christianity, not Christians as such. Thoughtful Christians understand that when any religious sect demands its agenda be put into law, the rights of everyone...themselves included...are threatened.)
The separation of economics and state...which means to embrace economic freedom, or laissez-faire capitalism, as a guiding principle on all issues. This would mean a platform which would include phasing out and dismantling the welfare state including sacred cows like social security, Medicare, Medicaid, and SCHIP; breaking up the public school monopoly and extending school choice to all parents through tax credits (but not government-funded vouchers); a full commitment to global free trade and an open immigration policy with all friendly, non-hostile nations; a return to a gold standard and abolition of the Federal Reserve central bank monopoly, which will break the back of the Federal government's now unlimited ability to confiscate our wealth; and massive tax reduction and regulatory roll-backs...to name a few planks.
To become relevant once again, the GOP needs to declare a philosophical "Contract with America". The rights of the individual to live his life for his own sake, so long as he doesn't violate the same rights of others, must be the unifying principle for the platform agenda. By rights I mean as they were meant by the Founders...guarantees to the freedom to take the actions necessary to promote one's own life, not as an automatic claim to the earnings, products and services, and property produced by others. Only a full GOP commitment to our founding principles, which the Democrats have now openly abandoned, can restore their standing. It will take a lot of political courage and a steadfast focus on the long-term rather than just the next election. It won't be easy. But standing on principle means, well, standing on principle.
The GOP must reject both the economic tyranny of the Socialist Left, and the social tyranny of the Religious Right. It must create a truly big tent...welcoming people from all across the American culture...united by the values of unalienable individual rights and limited, rights-protecting government. The Republican Party, I firmly believe, needs to move beyond the conservative-liberal paradigm; and forge a radical new individual rights coalition to counter the Democrats' full embrace of collectivism.
People will say that this is radical. It's not practical. It won't win elections. Of course, it is radical, in the honorable sense of the term. So was the American Revolution! (So, for that matter, is the Obama-Dems attempt to repeal it). But freedom is practical. People are capable of managing their own lives. As for elections, real electoral strength begins with ideas.
Do individual rights still "sell" in the only country ever founded on that principle? I believe the answer is yes. Will a political strategy encapsulated by the unifying philosophical/moral principle of individual rights work? I believe it can, and given time, will work. One thing is sure...if we value our freedom; it must work, because our time is running out. Reagan once said, "Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction". Observing the ominous trends in Washington, we may be that last generation.
Let America see what a real "vibrant opposition voice" truly looks like!
Posted by myunderstand on 05/01/09 at 12:12AM
I took the time to read all that you said. I understand your point of view. With minor exception I agree. Freedom is not FREE. It is a tangible feeling of self-worth that enhances each day of living a good life. You are not waisting your time in the quest, Semper Fi.
Posted by Zemack on 05/01/09 at 7:48PM
Thanks for taking the time and interest. I've been making this case since the election, and will continue to do so. Intellectually, the GOP needs to rebuild from the ground up. Until they do, I will remain an ex-republican independent, which I have been for several years now. A McCain-Palin-Romney led GOP won't do.
If the republicans don't stand for capitalism and individual rights on principle, they stand for nothing.