Monday, May 19, 2008

Why can't we Republicans be…well…more republican?

Have we become so like spoiled children since 1994 that don’t know our own key political issues? On Friday, Rush Limbaugh opened his show with Reagan quotes from a 1977 CPAC speech that provided the answer to something that has been worrying me: conservatives seem to believe our leaders are doing nothing.

In the 1790's, Thomas Jefferson perceived that the Federalist Party was becoming too like the nation's previous English overlords - governing in a top down fashion. With the advent of the French Revolution, a spontaneous debate sprung up between Federalists and republicans that sought to further define the philosophy of this new experiment in democracy. Local clubs were formed and their ideas were printed in widely read newspapers. This was the first grassroots republican movement.
In 1801, Jefferson set about leading America toward an even more liberal democracy,
[by] instill[ing] the nation with his liberal convictions. That is, he succeeded in limiting the scope of government while protecting the informal public realm where people could form organizations, engage in politics and freely trade with one another. So familiar to us are these elements of public life that we easily forget that it took a foresighted leader to pluck, from the quiver of America's possibilities, the two arrows of participatory politics and limited government.
Joyce Appleby, Thomas Jefferson

We are republicans (little "r"), individuals united by a philosophy. We must not forget that republican leaders are only as powerful as we are unified behind them. We cannot let the fact that we are a motley crew of rugged individualists become our own downfall. As exhibited when we stopped the legislation on illegal immigration last year, we are the power behind the Republican (capital "R") throne!

"But, what are they doing?", we whimper. Actually, quite a lot, if you examine the sites listed below.

* The Heritage Foundation (10 Key Issues are listed with research to back them up)
* John Boehner/Republican Leader (A Superlative 14 Key Issues are listed here)
* Roy Blunt/Republican Whip (Follow House activities under Whip Resources)
* GOP.Gov (8 Key Issues are listed here)
* The Freedom Project (10 Key Issues are listed here. Join the team and Take Action Now)
* National Republican Senate Committee NRSC.ORG (View great ad campaigns here)
* The American Conservative Union Foundation (An outstanding online classroom of conservative study)

Our leaders are making the case for our cause every day and it must be increasingly disheartening for them to be told they are doing nothing. Anyone can be a critic, but it takes a real pair make a difference out in the world.

"But, there wasn't a television announcement", we blubber. Or was there? The news is not only about shaping your mind as to what to think, it's also about shaping your mind as to what to think about! Why did we learn nothing about Ira Magaziner perjuring himself at the court hearing of Hillary's secret Health Care Task Force? The news agencies played a shell game and moved our attention to The O.J. Simpson Show. The last thing we saw concerning the East Coast event was the swirl of Hillary's dragon-embroidered cape as she exited her black limo. And, so it goes today with Obama coverage sucking up all the bandwidth and brainwidth.

The Internet is our venue and word of mouth is our newspaper. We know, as Reagan told us,

[e]xtreme taxation, excessive controls, oppressive government competition with business, galloping inflation, frustrated minorities and forgotten Americans are not the products of free enterprise. They are the residue of centralized bureaucracy, of government by a self-anointed elite.

It is our job to spread the word and we are not a helpless minority. Reagan told us,

[l]et us lay to rest, once and for all, the myth of a small group of ideological purists trying to capture a majority. Replace it with the reality of a majority trying to assert its rights against the tyranny of powerful academics, fashionable left-revolutionaries, some economic illiterates who happen to hold elective office and the social engineers who dominate the dialogue and set the format in political and social affairs" (and because we are the majority) "let’s act and talk like it.

We must remember who we are, realize the power we possess, and act accordingly. Yes, we have been dismayed because John McCain's political compass doesn't point due north. But the answer is not to cry and run home to our mamas. The best solution is a powerfully charged electronic fence of a strong Congress backed up with an engaged electorate to keep our prone-to-stray mustang on the farm. We must use the fact that we have 3 branches of government to our own advantage.

Reagan tells us:

I refuse to believe that the good Lord divided this world into Republicans who defend basic values and Democrats who win elections.

Our party must be based on the kind of leadership that grows and takes its strength from the people. Any organization is in actuality only the lengthened shadow of its members. A political party is a mechanical structure created to further a cause. The cause, not the mechanism, brings and holds the members together. And our cause must be to rediscover, reassert and reapply America’s spiritual heritage to our national affairs. Then with God’s help we shall indeed be as a city upon a hill with the eyes of all people upon us.