Skip to comments.Fred Barnes: Be the Party of No ( "It's the route to Republican landslides." )
Posted on 05/10/2009 6:10:51 AM PDT by kellynla
Republican leaders in Congress have created something called the National Council for a New America (NCNA). It describes itself as "not a Republican-only forum" but one that seeks to "engage people in a discussion to meet common challenges and build a stronger country through common-sense ideas." The expectation--mine, anyway--is those ideas will differ from President Obama's in a way that makes Republicans look fairminded and reasonable. The council's first event at a pizza parlor in Arlington, Virginia, did just that. Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush showed up, media coverage was heavy, and the session was deemed a success.
Improving the party's image is a worthy cause, but it isn't what Republicans ought to be emphasizing right now. They have a more important mission: to be the party of no. And not just a party that bucks Obama and Democrats on easy issues like releasing Gitmo terrorists in this country, but one committed to aggressive, attention-grabbing opposition to the entire Obama agenda.
Many Republicans recoil from being combative adversaries of a popular president. They shouldn't. Opposing Obama across-the-board on his sweeping domestic initiatives makes sense on substance and politics. His policies--on spending, taxes, health care, energy, intervention in the economy, etc.--would change the country in ways most Americans don't believe in. That's the substance. And a year or 18 months from now, after those policies have been picked apart and exposed and possibly defeated, the political momentum is likely to have shifted away from Obama and Democrats.
This scenario has occurred time and again. Why do you think Democrats won the House and Senate in 2006 and bolstered their majorities in 2008? It wasn't because they were more thoughtful, offered compelling alternatives, or had improved their brand. They won because they opposed unpopular policies of President Bush and exploited Republican scandals in Congress. They were highly partisan and not very nice about it.
If Republicans scan their history, they'll discover unbridled opposition to bad Democratic policies pays off. Those two factors, unattractive policies plus strong opposition, were responsible for the Republican landslides in 1938, 1946, 1966, 1980, and 1994. A similar blowout may be beyond the reach of Republicans in 2010, but stranger things have happened in electoral politics. They'll lose nothing by trying.
Let's look at the five landslides. Republicans were crushed in three straight elections before rebounding in 1938. How come? FDR uncorked his court-packing plan, launched a jihad against disloyal Democrats, and was fairly blamed for a new economic downturn (known as "the depression within the depression"). Republicans piled on and won seven Senate and 81 House seats.
In 1946, the public was fed up with wartime regulations that many Democrats were seeking to retain. Republicans asked, "Had enough?" Voters had.
In 1966, voters reacted adversely to the vast Great Society programs enacted after the Democratic triumph in 1964. Republicans, written off as dead, gained 47 House and four Senate seats, eight governorships, and won the presidency two years later.
Ronald Reagan would, in all likelihood, have defeated President Carter in 1980 on his own merit. But public revulsion at Carter's weak foreign policy and disastrous economic record (double-digit inflation and interest rates) produced a landslide that delivered Republicans the Senate as well. Tough Republican critiques of Carterism had played an indispensable role.
Republicans still pride themselves on the Contract with America--dealing with process issues like a balanced budget amendment and term limits--adopted in the 1994 campaign. It may have helped. But the main reason for the Republican capture of the House and Senate was the agenda of President Clinton: health care, crime, guns, taxes, and a lot more. Republicans dissected Clinton's policies skillfully and relentlessly, particularly turning his health care plan, initially quite popular, into an albatross.
Obama may not be as vulnerable as Clinton was, but his policies are. There's no reason for Republicans to hold back. It's evident now that Obama and the congressional Democrats have no interest in compromise. Their intent is to push far-reaching liberal policies through Congress quickly and with minimal debate. Obama's health care scheme would bring the country one step from a single-payer system. His plan to limit carbon emissions would give the federal government unprecedented power over the economy while emasculating the investors, entrepreneurs, and practically everyone else in the business community.
The Republicans have fertile ground to plow. The public is already dubious of a government-run health insurance plan, the core of Obama-Care. And there's plenty more for Republicans to focus on, including the threat of a government panel that decides which medical practices are covered and which are ostracized. Defeating ObamaCare, given Democratic majorities on Capitol Hill, may be difficult but it's not an impossibility. If Republicans lead the charge, health care providers and consumers are likely to join the active opposition. Otherwise, they'll remain passive.
Obama says his policy to restrict greenhouse gases, known as cap and trade, is "market-based." It isn't. The cap on emissions would be imposed by a government panel. Polls show the majority of Americans disapprove of this. Worse for Obama, Frank Newport, the Gallup boss, says most Americans don't believe global warming poses a serious danger. So why choke off economic growth?
Then there are the unforced errors of the Obama administration to take advantage of. The president's decision to close Gitmo has backfired badly, leaving him with terrorists on his hands and nowhere to put them. The takeover of GM and Chrysler has raised concerns, even in Europe, over the competence and judgment of the Obama team. The American public is lopsidedly against further bailouts of the Big 2.
Republican efforts to escape being tagged the party of no are understandable. The label gives Democrats and the media echo chamber a talking point. Should the NCNA come up with new ideas that spruce up the party's image, that's helpful. The criticism of the council by social conservatives, by the way, is downright counter-productive. Their attacks merely delight Democrats and the press. But no matter how restrained and sensible Republicans sound or how many useful ideas they develop, they're probably stuck with the party of no label. They have more to gain by actually accepting the role and taking on Obama vigorously. If they come to be dubbed the party of no, no, no, a thousand times no, all the better. It will mean they're succeeding.
HAPPY MOTHERS DAY!
Semper Fi, Kelly
Being the party of no is not the answer. Having principles, and being positive about what happens when party members adhere to them is what will bring the next upturn in Republican representation.
NO to more bailouts
NO to all this spending
NO to HOMSEXUAL MARRIAGE
No to a TON of things
Then also tell the public what you are for....better paychecks....better, less expensive health care....less Frivolous Law Suits...etc.
Republicans need to show outrage and righteous indignation against 0bama’s Big Government power grab every single day. This is where their constituents are. This is where the story is. They need to call it what it is. Fascism, gangsterism, totalitarianism. They need to LEAD, and Americans will wake from their slumber to follow.
It's not them which need these "implants" it's us out here, the electorate which needs the operation of nominating and hiring conservatives, not moderates or rino's!
Besides being the party of “no”, they need to be the party of “no RINO”.
The OP could have been the party of “no” socialism long ago but instead chose the path of incremental socialism with the big tent mentality to expand the voter base. The result is a party of “no” Conservatism. Suddenly trying to improve their image by going to a pizza parlor couldn’t be more disingenuous. It’s tantamount to the socialist RATS in the past trying to reshape their image.
What has gotten into Fred? He’s making sense.
This Beltway elitist Republican had to get in his dig about social conservatives, and he fails to remind us that he is right with Obama on the amnesty for 20 million illegals question. In that case, he wants the GOP to be the party of YES.
The GOP has nothing to gain listening to Fred Barnes. He seems confused, trying to praise this listening tour approach, and at the same time advising the party to be the party of NO. Except on amnesty for illegals, of course. - Do they need to listen first and say no later, or should we have leaders who already know when to say no?
Exactly. Know why we lost the last presidential election? Duh.....we nominated someone who “reached across the aisle”.
We allowed the mainstream media to choose our candidate. They wanted McCain...and when they got him...the media immediately turned on him.
The media is a large political player...they have NO objectivity. They turned on Hillary because they wanted Obama...and if they couldn’t have Obama, McCain was their fallback candidate.
If we had nominated a true conservative...we’d have won.
The GOP needs to keep things simple. They must be FOR:
The smallest possible government, the LOWEST possible taxes, CLOSED borders and only allow LEGAL immigration and a STRONG national defense.
Let families decide what goes on in THEIR own bedrooms! (trying to regulate the bedroom is not a winning issue)
The problem is that HALF of the population is dependent on the government for their livelihood and HALF the population pays no federal income tax.
Who says "Communism is dead!"
Of course, the majority of these GOP clowns run as “conservatives” but once they are elected spend their time drinking the big government Kool-Aid and focusing on little more than just getting reelected.
TERM LIMITS is the ONLY solution!
If its so obvious that Barnes gets it, perhaps some Repub will figure it out. We need a Rebel Republican movement.
Pray for America
Common Sense ideas! Congratulations and I agree with you. This is the winning combination. I have said for sometime that social issues do not belong at the federal level but in my home, my church, and my community and on rare occasions at the State level.
Let the State’s decide on social issues and get the Federal Government back to doing what it says in the Constitution.
While we are at it, Education belongs at the State level as well.
Fred Barnes is Executive Editor of The Weekly Standard
Fred Barnes is Executive Editor of The Weekly Standard
NO! to tax increases!
NO! to budget deficits!
NO! to bailouts for millionaires!
NO! to back room billion dollar deals with banks and Wall Street!
YES! to transparency, honesty and accountability in the Federal government!
NO! to subsidies for wealthy Agri-Business to keep food prices high!
NO! To Obama's Wealth Redistribution!
NO! to open borders and handouts for illegals!
NO! to protected status for sexual perverts and child molesters!
NO! to bringing Islamic terrorist prisoners into the USA!
NO! to tax cheats in the President's cabinet!
NO! to pandering; YES! to equality and equal treatment for all!
AMEN!!! I PRAY that Republican LEADERS (WHO, I don;t know) pick this up!!!