Skip to comments.Do Republicans Stand For Anything?
Posted on 09/16/2002 11:26:09 AM PDT by Stand Watch Listen
Confronted with economic uncertainty, the congressional response is to promulgate new laws and regulations rather than cut taxes or exercise spending restraint. This is as true for the Republican-controlled House of Representatives as the Democrat Senate. When it was reported that the Bush administration was considering a tax package that would alleviate double-taxation of corporations and lower taxes on investors, some congressional Republicans were unenthusiastic.
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas (R-CA) doesn´t want to bring these proposals up for a vote. Robert Novak wrote that Thomas was opposed to the administration´s initiative, while columnist Bruce Bartlett reported that the chairman actually was concerned about whether he could secure enough Republican votes to pass it. Either way, something is seriously wrong when Republicans cannot be counted on to support even such modest tax cuts.
Paul Weyrich and other observers have complained that Republicans have recently given grassroots conservatives few reasons to vote for them. Failure to pass a tax cut that would benefit the investor class, potentially a key GOP constituency, would seem to confirm this analysis. Nevertheless, the problem is bigger than the political ineptitude that leads Republicans to fail to reward their supporters. A more pressing question is whether the Republican Party continues to stand for anything.
The GOP is certainly not as bad as the Democrat Party and there is no disputing that the party has its share of conservative stars. But the contrast between Republican governance and the party´s rhetoric as expressed in platforms and campaigns is jarring. Trent Lott is hardly an inspiring heir to Barry Goldwater. The centrality of values and ideas that Goldwater and his supporters brought to Republican politics is missing today.
This isn´t just a problem because it leaves conservative voters less motivated to work and vote for Republican candidates, although that does make it more difficult for the GOP to win elections (an irony lost on the very people who claim perpetual surrender enhances the party´s electoral prospects). By refusing to stand on principle or take risks, the party fails to offer meaningful solutions to grave national problems. To avoid offending anyone or losing elections, Republicans risk robbing their party of its reason for being.
Politics seldom rewards people who tell difficult truths. This is why so many successful politicians traffic in gimmickry and platitudes. But statesmanship requires much more. Ronald Reagan pressed his case against Soviet communism abroad and big government at home for years before he was elected to the presidency; as a celebrity political activist, politician and commentator he relentlessly championed the free market over the welfare state. While always surrounded by a core group of true believers, when Reagan entered the marketplace of political ideas in the 1960s, his views hardly represented anything approaching majority opinion. At that point, liberalism had been entrenched since the New Deal. It was the responsibility of a relatively small brigade of conservative activists, politicians and intellectuals to seek to persuade the public to break from this consensus. Reagan led rather than followed.
This is not to suggest that Reagan was perfect as president, he accepted New Deal and Great Society programs that he had denounced as totalitarian while campaigning for Goldwater in 1964 but to point out a critical difference between him and many current Republican leaders. Reagan ran for office not for the sake of holding office itself, but because he wanted to do certain things in the service of a set of beliefs he held. In his presidential farewell address to the nation in 1989, he remarked that he wasn´t so much the "Great Communicator" many had referred to him as during his eight years in office. Rather, he said that he had communicated great things.
Even George W. Bush, the most intuitively conservative president since Reagan, is often adrift without a philosophical anchor. John O´Sullivan once described him as a Tory, the sort of conservative who believes that good government is achieved by having the right people in charge to manage whatever may come up. The problem with this sort of conservatism is that it tends to leave an administration at the mercy of events.
Recent primary results may have strengthened the GOP´s hand in several key races, but without correcting this problem. Dick Armey, Phil Gramm, Jesse Helms, Bob Smith and Bob Barr will all be leaving Congress. Republican primary voters have chosen people like Elizabeth Dole, John Sununu and John Linder to replace them. Many of these people will be reliable Republican votes and all of them are preferable to the Democrats running against them. None of them will bring the passionate commitment to certain ideas and values that animated any of the conservatives who are leaving. Say what you will about folks like Barr (I certainly had my misgivings about him) or Smith (much as I admired him and hoped he would remain in the Senate, it is difficult to look at his post-1998 conduct without concluding that he has only himself to blame for his primary defeat). The GOP needs people who believe in things regardless of their popularity and are willing to occasionally rock the boat.
The times call for tough-mindedness. The United States today has a welfare state that will either have to be dismantled or allowed to exert an ever-increasing drag on productive Americans as the baby boomers retire. The financing of such entitlements as Social Security and Medicare grows more precarious by the year. The income tax burden has been shifted to a minority of Americans easily caricatured as "rich," creating the unpalatable possibility that tax rates will someday climb back to destructive, pre-Reagan levels. Fiat money debases our currency. One year after September 11, our immigration system is largely unchanged, our borders are still vulnerable, no one knows who is coming and going and the only policy on this Republican administration´s radar screen is an amnesty for a subset of illegal immigrants. Our military may be under-supported and overextended. Our national sovereignty is being eroded. The Constitution is effectively a dead letter.
Republicans, at least the mainstream ones who hold the most sway over public policy, don´t appear ready to do anything about any of the above. Yet if they won´t, who will?
Of course, being tough-minded about any of those issues would probably come with high political costs. The dilemma of politics is this: You can´t accomplish anything if you don´t win elections, yet there is no point of winning elections if you don´t accomplish anything once elected. How does one weigh principle against political viability? Howard Phillips has very strong beliefs and is very committed to dealing with some serious issues. He is not ever going to be elected to anything, even dogcatcher, in this lifetime. Republicans scored a New York City mayoral victory with Michael Bloomberg, but other than the nifty "R" that appears next to his name when he is on television, the GOP is no better off from a policy perspective than if the Democrats had beaten him. Can a proper balance be reached?
Perhaps it is expecting too much of the Republican Party to expect that it provide Herculean leadership. After all, political parties exist to win elections and they can do that just as easily with bad ideas as good ones. But eventually some of our problems will need to be solved, probably by someone who isn´t afraid of a solution that might offend somebody or encourage a Democrat attack ad. Will the Republicans then find a leader who is up to the challenge?
Nor does this leader have to be someone with an answer to everything. From abortion to multiculturalism, Rudolph Giuliani was a squish of Arlen Specter proportions. Yet on the issues he could actually make a difference on, he was an extraordinarily tough problem-solver and excellent leader.
Many of the West´s center-right political parties are faced with the challenge of either making themselves relevant or finding themselves displaced often by parties espousing platforms that were beyond the pale only yesterday. The GOP will someday find this day of reckoning upon it. It will either rise to the occasion or go the way of Canada´s Progressive Conservatives or perhaps even America´s own Whigs.
Generally we stand for the Pledge of Allegiance and the National Anthem.
No. Next question.
Responses like "no, "getting re-elected" and other such mindless generalizations demonstrate only ignorance, and contribute nothing to the debate.
Our job is to hold their feet to the fire.
When I first joined this forum, many forum participants did just that...to congressmen on both sides of the aisle. Now, I'm not too convinced of that.
Sure the Clinton scandals, fraud and deceit drew us all together. The 'target' easily defined. The focus was much clearer. But, then the Clintons left pretty much unscathed. Special Investigators were shut down, Bob Ray closed up shop. The forum was experiencing a vacuum.
IMHO... too many 'RINOs' in the present administration have received too much support, too many excuses. Now it appears dissent will be quashed, differing opinions ridiculed.
President Bush has wasted so much of his political capital. The lack of 'support' for his judicial nominees has been a great letdown. President Reagan would have least presented his views, his rationale to the American populace. Congress may have been pressured to act upon the President's requests. But Bush has allowed his judicial nominees to dangle for >400 days. Now with his approval, job performance ratings slipping...it certainly will not happen now. A wasted opportunity.
You don't have it exactly right. Whatever is
necessary to get elected and to hold onto
power, that is what Republicans are and
will do. The only RINO I know of is
Ron Paul. He is a Libertarian elected as
What you are thinking of is a politician
who violates the principles on which he
claims to stand for electoral purposes.
In this case that would be a CINO,
or conservative in name only. Conservatism
has solid principles that seldom change.
Republican principles change on a dime if
that is what it takes to take or wield power.
The problem is that there are two basic divisions in the Republican Party:
Conservatives who support a smaller government, secure borders, American culture and ideals, job and community security, English as the only national language.
Business interests who are interested in profit, global corporate interests, cheap labor, little restriction on their profit-making capabilities.
The two groups are often in natural conflict with one another. GWB seems to be more in tune with corporate interests than with social conservatives.
It might become essential to choose which is the most important issue for each individual, and vote for who best supports that. For me, that issue is the borders...if we don't do something about people coming into the country (legally and illegally), there won't be anything of the US left to preserve.
And I completely agree with this.
I feel the immigration, both illegal and 'sort-of legal' reaches into all aspects of our lives.
It is a social issue.
It is a legal issue.
It is a defense issue.
It is an economic issue.
We (the taxpayers) will pay the price for so-called cheap food and goods. We can pay at the check-out or we can pay when the government presents us the bill for all the hidden costs of our folly. Personally, I would rather know exactly what I am paying for an item. Some will make a profit because they do not pay as much out of pocket for these workers, but the rest of us will have to subsidize his windfall.
Not only do we pay in money, we pay in the destruction of our cultural, in the demise of the middle class and in the sovereignty of this nation.
Thus demonstrating that the two viable political factions in this country are the smart liberals and the stupid liberals. The GOP has the latter franchise sewn up.
...the GOP tradename.
You said it.
Smart liberal then? 'Cause the smart conservatives sure as hell have no place to call their own.
Very true, and worth repeating.
A party isn't a train going in a given direction or moving along an established track. It's more like a car -- no, wait -- an SUV that you can take where you want to, if you're in charge. That's what Goldwater did, with little success in the end, and what Reagan did very well.
It's certainly true that the GOP isn't living up to conservative expectations. But part of the problem is that conservatives themselves are so unclear about what they really want. There's what people would want in their dreams or in a perfect world, but what people want to achieve in the here and now is less clear. Set attainable, real world goals and work for them, and the party will have to take you into account.
Three reason why conservative goals are unclear: the Gingrich "revolution" fizzled out and with it the idea of great changes, the late nineties prosperity dampened the discontent that is the motor of reform, and right now, foreign and military policy are the focus of the big conservative periodicals.
I assume you mean that the quashing and ridicule will happen here, on FR. I guess I will have to agree.
First of all, I ask that you take heart and have patience. As one of the "researchers" of the web, consistantly bringing articles from diverse places to the forum's attention, for year after year, you are truely essential. Your persistance will triumph in the end.
I think that Jim feels that the more strident posters always can change a forum's appearance just through their persistance and doesn't want the platform to become something that leftists can selectively use to stay in power. That it could be if it became too much a rant-platform for anti-Bush or Anti-Republican sentiment.
He has always said that just and reasoned criticism from the conservative side can be, and should be, applied to Bush or the Republicans in general.
Unfortunately, reasonable discussion on an anonymus internet board is hampered by those who wish to rant. Therefore, those individuals that wish to blindly follow Bush and/or Republican policy wherever it may go, are far too ready to castigate the reasoned discussion along with the Ranters, all the while thinking that they are just "following Jim's" desires.
Jim wants the leftists defeated, first, last and always. I think that Jim expects there are reasoned posters, like yourself, that can see this bigger picture, and still keep the drum-beat of conservatism providing the cadence to help those at the oars stay on a true path.
I still remember the comment he made to Don Morgan et. al. after they had over-played to cadre stance when asked why he didn't say something to them. It was along the lines of being too embarrased.
I think there are some here that he hopes he doesn't have to explain things to, in too much open detail. He expects us to figure it out and keep up the true fight for a constitutional republic.
As far as the Atlee article, I won't even comment on it as your thoughts are far more important than this one little article.
If I have too incorrectly characterized Jim, I'm sure he will straighten me out, LOL.
The question was posed in 2002. Seems ten years later the question has been addressed...no they do not. No message, nor adequate messenger.
I listened to Mark Levin this evening. He is correct; the Republican Party keeps arguing issues, when it really needs to have people in the public eye, who are articulate and passionate about our worthy American foundations and heritage -— both Ronald Reagan strong suits.
...the Republican Party keeps arguing issues, when it really needs to have people in the public eye, who are articulate and passionate about our worthy American foundations and heritage ....
Seems the performane (public eye) of Senator Cruz (R-TX), in the first month of his Senate term, has shown himself as one Conservative that 'stands for something'.
I'll take whatever encouragement that's out there.