Conservatives Take First Steps Toward Rebuilding GOP

Less than 72 hours after a disheartening Election Day for Republicans, Capitol Hill conservatives are showing their mettle.

Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee, endorsed Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) Thursday for the number 3 leadership position among House Republicans: chairman of the Republican Conference. Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Oh) also endorsed Pence after asking him to run for the post.

The Conference — formerly chaired by Rep. Adam Putman — is responsible for communicating the House GOP’s message to the media and American public. It also elects House Republican leadership and is an internal organizer for Republican representatives. The chairman is the voice of his party’s message.

Moving Pence — former RSC chairman and 2005 HUMAN EVENTS “Man of the Year” — into the House leadership is evidence of the rapidity of conservatives’ resurgence after the McCain loss Tuesday. As of now, Pence is running unopposed. The election is on Nov. 19.

In a statement announcing his bid, Pence writes, “If you elect me as your new Chairman, I would take a page from the playbook of President Ronald Reagan, who taught us that it is not enough to believe great things, we must effectively communicate great things to the American people.”

Pence understands the twofold challenge Republicans face: fighting and defending ideas and then communicating those ideas to the voters. A former radio talk-show host, Hensarling and Boehner reportedly are looking to Pence’s communications skills to improve significantly Republicans’ outreach to voters.

Pence’s advance — in the face of the Obama landslide and liberal Democrats’ desire to flood congress with all sorts of “reforms” — is reminiscent of an earlier era when conservatives also had to face a long struggle.

It’s worth raining on the Obama parade by looking back — a direction they never want to go unless it’s framed by “the past eight years” — to a speech given in 1976.

Ronald Reagan, without notes, without a teleprompter, as Peggy Noonan describes in When Character Was King, spoke to his supporters after losing the bid for the presidency.

“It’s just one battle in a long war, and it will go on as long as we all live…Don’t give up on your ideals …And don’t for heavens’ sake, having seen the inner workings of the watch, don’t get cynical.”

This is why Reagan accomplished so much. Rejection should not make conservatives cynical; it should make them fight harder. After all, the only real reason to be a conservative is because you believe in something, or some things. And those things inspire you. They don’t make you bitter. But they do make you want to take a stand.

I’m not propagating Reagan nostalgia (that’s not Reagan’s style, anyway). But I appreciate his message.

So did the American people.

And so, apparently now, does the GOP.

Obama may have awakened a sleeping giant.