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"Resuscitating the GOP - Commentary by Joseph C. Phillips"

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A popular topic of conversation these days is what ails the Republican Party. Everyone from barbershop pundits and opinion writers to former Bush administration officials have waded in with opinions and cures.

More than a few have proffered that the problem with the Republican Party is that it has moved too far from the political center and given too much sway to the fringe right. They hold that in order to survive and become vibrant again the Grand Old Party must jettison (or at least silence) the far right and must begin appealing to the moderate wing of the party. In other words the party must become even more like Democrats. I suspect this brilliant advice was dreamed up by Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid while doing shots of Tequila in some smart bar in Georgetown. They never dreamed Republicans would be so daft as to actually consider it.

Giving voice to a version of this madness, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, spoke to a group of corporate security executives and warned that the ills of the party could be traced to the repeating of the far right mantra. Powell went on to say, "Americans do want to pay taxes for services," he continued, "Americans are looking for more government in their life, not less."

With all due respect to the general, I beg to differ. I have never heard anyone bemoan the fact that their tax burden is not heavy enough. Americans don’t want to pay more taxes they want other people to pay more taxes. And this is the problem with the generals’ prescription. “Americans” are prone to want many things. However, what people want is not the pertinent question. The issue is--do the people have a right to those things they want and, assuming that they do, is government the best vehicle for meeting those wants. This has and I suspect will always be the primary bold letter demarcation between conservative thinking and that of new liberals. Conservative principles hold that the purpose of government is to protect liberty; that the purpose of law is justice and that the free market is more effective in the allocation of scarce resources. New Liberals on the other hand accept as true that rights flow from the state; that the purpose of government is the distribution of equality and that a bureaucracy made up of really really smart people is better than the free market at dispensing goods and services (to say nothing of virtue).

But I digress.

Just so we are clear: When Powell and others looking misty-eyed to the center talk about the conservative tilt to the party and the party fringe they are not only pointing the finger at tax cutting Republicans, but social conservatives that oppose abortion and homosexual marriage as well.

Of course the issue of homosexual marriage was not thrust upon the American people by the far right. It was the far left that took it upon themselves to remake society’s oldest social institution and normalize homosexuality in our society. When the people were unwilling they were demonized and the issue suddenly became a “wedge issue.” Abortion too is no more a wedge than any other issue. Indeed the question of the sanctity of life goes to the very heart of our understanding of rights and the purpose of government. You can be certain that a government that will not secure the right to life cares not one whit about your liberty or your property.

This blaming of the fringe might hold more sway if Republicans had been booted from power because they were too socially conservative. The truth, however, is quite different. It was not the opposition to abortion or homosexual marriage that pushed republicans from power. Rather it was the Republican failure to articulate a sensible fiscal policy beyond the oxymoron of big government conservatism. The party was shown the door because they promised smaller government and delivered both larger government and larger deficits; they promised free markets and instead protected corporate interests, they promised reform and delivered lip service. In other words the culprit was the rejection of conservative principles in favor of new liberalism.

The Republican Party will not be revived by compromising core principles. If limited government, free markets, personal freedom, American exceptionalism and traditional values are principles republicans can no longer stand up and fight for there can be no resurgence of the party - no resuscitation. The epitaph has already been written.

Joseph C. Phillips is the author of “He Talk Like A White Boy” available wherever books are sold.


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