We knew it was coming, and now it’s happened.
Colin Powell came out and announced his dissatisfaction with the conservative tilt of the Republican Party and cited Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter as indicative of what he called “the divisiveness” of today’s Republican Party and how it does not appeal to the normal American.
These country club Republican calls for the Party to renounce its conservatism and become Democrat-lite did not begin in 2008: it’s been going on since the days of Goldwater and is echoed every time the Republican Party loses (and sometimes, even when it wins.)
But the Country Clubbers miss the obvious: John McCain lost in 2008. Of all the candidates who entered the primary, there was no Republican who was as “moderate” and un-conservative as McCain. He took the Democrat line on immigration and implied that those who did not agree with him were led by a form of racism and other unsavory impulses. He had to be forced kicking and screaming to accept a platform of across the board tax cuts.
There was no Republican candidate who was more acceptable to the press than McCain, and the elitists in our party convinced us that he would be the most appealing to the “broadest spectrum” of the electorate. He did all the “reaching out” that Powell has chided the Republican Party for not doing. Yet we lost decisively.
Many of us have never considered Mr. Powell a conviction Republican, just as we always knew that Arlen Specter was not. Powell had the good fortune of being selected by Ronald Reagan and later both President Bushes to posts in their administration. Some assume that selection and, later, affiliation meant a symbiosis with Republicans on most issues. Yet on more occasions than not, when hearing from Powell, what we heard were criticisms of the Party and a moralizing to it. Such was the case when he spoke at the Republican National Convention and during interviews when he was not holding a particular position in the Administration. Powell had hitched his star to the Republican Party because he had a greater chance to rise in the Republican Party than among the Democrats.
The Republican Party is not more conservative today than it was during the time of Ronald Reagan or in 1996 when it took control of the House and Senate. It is only more conservative now than then in comparison to the Democratic Party, which has moved so far leftward that it whole heartedly endorses gay marriage and even partial-birth abortion.
In the name of reaching more people, should the Republican Party embrace doomed- to- failure national health care and discard the many wise and effective free market alternatives that are on the drawing board? In the name of what some call fairness, should the Republican Party adopt affirmative action and other forms of preferential treatment and thereby punish the majority of Americans?
In the name of reaching many more constituency groups, should the Republican Party cast aside its moral compass and support same sex marriage or abortion at any time in the pregnancy and for whatever reason? Should it agree to disenfranchise parents in the decision making of their minor daughter by denying them a right to know and parental consent? Should the Republican Party accept all of the kooky and non-scientifically founded theories of environmental extremists, even if it means abandoning truth and scientific skepticism, knowing how it will cause unnecessary loss of jobs and hardship on average families?
Should we, in order to bring more people to us, send out a message that all will be well in the world by simply sitting down and “schmoozing” with our enemies and showing a little more “understanding” — that those who have planned our harm will suddenly lay down their arms? Are we to pretend that there is no jihad?
And most important, so as to “expand the tent”, should we, like the Democrats, begin advocating a radical multiculturalism, which is Balkanizing the country? Should we become, like the Democrats, a party displaying an indifference to the very American traditions and culture that have been so vital to us as a people?
When we have run conservative candidates, we have won. When we have strayed from our principles and when we have run so-called moderates, we have lost Presidential elections. But even if people such as Powell, Specter, Snowe, Noonan, and Frum are correct, winning by forfeiting all of our principles is too high a price to pay.
For those who make their living through political office, it may not matter how they get there, as long as they get there. But for those of us who do not hold public office and are asked to work in behalf of the Party, we cannot nor should we be expected to expend the time and effort to elect officials who at the end will not represent what we really believe. For us, elections are not a stepladder to a professional political career, rather the means by which we ensure that what is dear and important to us becomes the way of the land.
When Mr. Powell and those that think like him criticize conservatism and the Republican Party, they end up being part of that enormous liberal machine constantly at work throwing mud on what we believe and who we are. Better that the energies of conservatives be spent educating the public as to why we believe what we do and what constitutes conservatism than trying to keep Mr. Powell and friends in the Party. Energy spent that way, will one day bring us an authentic victory, one with meaning and of which to be proud.