Grand Old Problem

I did not vote for President Obama, twice, I did not vote for Bill Clinton, twice, and I regret none of those four choices.

My family has been overwhelmingly Republican since Lincoln made our home a state. When Virginia and the Democrats rebelled, we seceded from Virginia and joined the Grand Old Party to save the Union and free the slaves. My first vote for President was for Ronald Wilson Reagan. If I am a Republican in Name Only, the dreaded RINO, then the purity test for the party has become rigorous indeed.

But I am disgusted with the present condition of the Republican Party. Do not comfort me by pointing out that the other major party is worse, one cannot praise ones team with stronger damns for the other. I need not love the policies of the Democratic Party to castigate the present state of my own team. At her worst the Democrat Party is impious, improvident, and imprudent.

Sadly, the Republican Party is often made up of hypocritical high-rollers with delusions of godhood.

The danger is that the horrific incompetence of the opposition party, my party, is allowing harm to be done to our nation. I know workers about to become unemployed over the provisions of Obamacare. Our ineffectiveness is inexcusable, because lives and liberty are at stake.

Like most of the Party, I am for smaller government that supports the moral conditions that make small government possible, but like Burke and Buckley I know conservatives have to govern. Conservatives are not Utopian. We do not press for changes that are impossible or plans that are unworkable. We will take half today with hopes of getting more tomorrow.

Compromise in politics, if it is not compromise in long term goals, is the price conservatives gladly pay for constitutional, republican government. No people grasps all the truth and nothing but the truth immediately and so help us God no party should be arrogant enough to force their version of truth on an unwilling people.

We must reason, cajole, pray, and persevere, but the GOP has become too impatient for prudence.

The present Republican Party is an amalgam of opportunists, sycophants, crazies, and conservatives.

Only the last group should be involved in governing.

I am not naive enough to believe that any political party is better than any other group of human beings: bad people will flock to any standard. No flag is so sacred that a Benedict Arnold will not betray it and no leader so holy that a Judas will not betray him. It is not of the Arnold or the Judas I complain: those we have with us always.

It is a party adrift without leadership where the microphone men dominate with petty concerns driven by profit and not the good of the Republic. It is a party without leaders willing to tell us, the voters of the party, hard truths about what is possible. We have a leadership that panders like demagogues. They have forgotten that they do not merely represent us, they are supposed to be more competent than us.

They are selected by us to do work for which we have no time or are not fitted by nature or expertise.

Instead, the Grand Old Party refuses to weed out self-appointed “leaders” without office, portfolio, or competence who pander to the baser instincts of our natures.

Making a man a Christian, a conservative, or an American does not purge him of sin: we need leaders who are unafraid to tell us our faults or where they would take us. We need leaders who do not just bow to our glorious past but are ready for today.

Lincoln was fit for 1861: we need a leader for 2013.

Roosevelt was the right man for 1901: we need a leader for 2013.

Reagan was a godsend in 1981: we need a leader for 2013.

But this we know: the right leader will act as Lincoln, Roosevelt, and Reagan did and deviate from party orthodoxy for the good of the nation.

Lincoln saved the Union and freed the slaves, but not by reading polls.

Roosevelt saved free markets, but ending the abuses of those plutocrats against the money men of his own party.

Reagan would give the Democrats a small win in order to secure a greater victory for all Americans.

The two evils besetting the Republican Party are tearing her apart. First, we have ideologues who will not compromise in order to govern. They will try any far fetched scheme, pander to any delusion of the Party crowd, in order to advance their agenda. It does not matter to them if they govern, so long as they are pure.

Such Utopianism is the antithesis of conservatism. An ideologue is willing to do more practical harm than real good just so he can make his case, especially if a television camera is nearby. He is the evangelist to the converted with the  fruit such sermonizing always brings: failure of which they are proud.

Every fight is an Alamo in their minds, but after the defeat our leaders never get to San Jacinto. They bring us to another crushing defeat and so most of these fights are unjust wars. Christian ethics teaches that a just war must be winnable. If there is no chance to win, then we must retreat, or even surrender, to fight another day.

But a greater evil is the hypocrite who talks family values while mocking them in his life or personal opinions. He placates and panders, but he does not agree with the ultimate goals of our Party platform. He compromises not to reach the goal, as Reagan, did, but because he has no interest in the goal.

He is double-minded, unstable in all his ways, and too often in the pay of special interests that will raise the money for the next election.

Give me instead the quiet leadership of sincere men and women in Washington. They compromise, because they must. They win when they can. Such women and men are the majority, I think, of our elected officials, but they have been hijacked by the noisy or the noisome.

America needs a party committed to morals and then markets, not markets over morals. Like Reagan, we want a government small enough to stay out of our way, but big enough to keep evil doers abroad and at home out of our lives. We know that foreign governments are often left a threat than the graft of big business in bed with big government.

Republicans are more concerned, or should be more concerned, about subsidies to plutocrats than to people. The safety net is of the widow, orphan, the poor, the sick, not tycoons.  Whatever their flaws, people like Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum got this balance right in office.

We are a party that concedes too many districts and voting blocks to the Democrats. We may not win them for decades, but the national party must see that even the bluest district has a decently funded GOP candidate. We want to be a choice, not an echo, but in big parts of the country we are making no noise at all.

We may not win Compton or inner city Houston tomorrow, but we should begin trying now.

What does it profit us long term to win a narrow majority in the House, based on a minority of total votes cast?

The government shutdown was a failed strategy that never had much chance of success. When it was attempted, it needed to be maintained. Instead, we stared what we could not finish and declared victory to ourselves and went home.

Ted Cruz is better than that or better be if he aspires to national leadership. Mr. Cruz is a good man, a smart man, and he won my vote, but his strategy failed and he seems to be unaware of the consequences of that failure.

Obamacare and the rollout are disasters, but the leadership of the Republican Party stepped on that failure by starting a war they had no intention of winning. Fight Obamacare? Of course, but fight it with a hope for victory. Better a long term strategy that might work, than a noisy doomed strategy.

Nobody won the trench warfare of World War I and nobody wins in a government shutdown without any strategy for victory that does not count the great cost wearing away the strength of the nation in endless political fighting.

We have debt: we must fight to pay it.

We have moral decay: we must pray for repentance.

We can be bold in our goals, but take the long view in our tactics.

Instead, the GOP is consumed with day-to-day tactics, the next election, and pandering to people, like me, who will already vote for them.

It is unworthy of a party that once dared to nominate James Garfield: scholar, war hero, preacher, and sage.

I am not a Democrat, because I am pro-life, pro-marriage, and pro-free markets, but a pro-life, pro-marriage, pro-free market party that will not make the case for these values, is inarticulate in the face of opposition, or chooses apocalyptic thinking over long term strategy is also unworthy of a free man’s vote.

 


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