It is time to proclaim that the "Era of Reagan" is indeed dead, or at least the current "Country Club" version of the great former President, in which he has been completely reinvented. In their world, Ronald Reagan is a metaphor for the total abandonment of principle, under a perverted counterfeit of the "Big Tent." Nor will those "moderates" let us forget Reagan's Eleventh Commandment, "Thou shalt not criticize another Republican," to which they should add, "Unless the criticism is directed at a conservative."
At this seminal moment in the life of the GOP and the country, party insiders are revealing a total moral and philosophical bankruptcy, and an appalling level of cowardice. Heartland America is desperately looking for someone possessing sufficient wisdom and courage to rise up as the leader who will stridently confront the liberal political machine that is systematically dismantling their beloved nation. Unfortunately, no leading Republican has displayed the necessary spine to take on this battle.
As a result, though the Republican Party could be contrasting its former conservatism against the emerging fiasco of liberal/Democrat statism, and thus redirecting the course of events in Washington, its highest profile members are instead tagging along for the ride, attempting to catch some diffuse reflection off of Barack Obama's supposed limelight. The Obama Administration is making a mess out of the country, just as they promised. But in response, all the Republicans can offer is a watered down version of the Obama/Pelosi/Reid agenda.
Worse yet, any on the right who dare to step out from the umbrella of this nearly homogenous political class can expect to be as fiercely castigated by the Republican Party insiders as the Democrats. America is all about unity and "ending the partisan rancor," even though every time Republicans devolve to that miserable level, they are thoroughly rebuked at the polls. Nevertheless, at a June 8 Republican Congressional Campaign fundraiser, keynote speaker Newt Gingrich showed once again how to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Though he made a token effort to differentiate himself from Barack Obama, in the end he offered more of the same muddled thinking that neutralized his political momentum fourteen years ago.
Rather than presenting a comprehensive contrast between himself and the treasonous, anti-capitalist governing concept of the left, Gingrich reverted to the seemingly safe notion that a bland and undefined political "opposition," encompassing so wide a variety of perspectives as to include even those who support Obama, would somehow rally Americans. In one breath, he lauded both former Vice-president Dick Cheney and former Secretary of State Colin Powell as worthy "Republicans."
Cheney and Powell have been publicly at odds with each other in recent weeks, disputing the very nature of the GOP. And the specifics of their quarrel are central to the character of the party, to the point that the outcome of this debate may very well determine whether or not the Republican Party has any hope for a future. That this debate is even occurring, in the face of such unfettered Democrat extremism, is itself a travesty. A principled conservative opposition party could be ruling the day. Sadly, as a whole, the current GOP is neither principled nor conservative. Sadder still is that someone of the stature of Newt Gingrich would attempt to establish a political and philosophical equivalency between two worldviews as wholly irreconcilable as those of Cheney and Powell.
Cheney, in recent statements, concisely and unmistakably contrasted himself and the conservative movement against the liberalism and flagrant fraud of the Obama agenda, warning in no uncertain terms that such a course will be dangerous for the nation. In the process, he upheld fellow conservative stalwart Rush Limbaugh as a definite asset to the party, and to conservatism itself.
Powell, on the other hand, has made no specific policy statements, while insisting that Republicans must expunge the influence of Cheney, Limbaugh, and their kindred for the good of the party. His most notable "contribution" to the GOP was to endorse the other party's presidential candidate just prior to last November's elections. Since that time, Powell has advanced the notion that a policy of bigger and more intrusive government, in essence the Obama agenda, is somehow the only viable future for the Republican Party. And on this basis Gingrich wants to welcome him as a defining force in the party?
Republican "moderates" are adamant that their self-defeating "strategy" was born of devotion to Ronald Reagan, and their theory of his "Big Tent." This falsehood can be dispelled with a single glimpse past their empty "centrist" rhetoric, to recall what the Gipper actually believed, and how he translated those beliefs into an unparalleled electoral and political victory.
For starters, Reagan was no posturing follower. His "Big Tent" did not result from any pathetic attempts to pander his way into the hearts of the American people. Rather, he unabashedly offered starkly defined conservatism as the best course for the nation, and in so doing convinced many in the "middle" to dispense with their own petty differences, and join him as he sought to better the country. Thus his "Big Tent" was the product of leadership based on undiluted conservative principle.
Most notably, Reagan had no place in his plan for the double minded treachery exhibited by Colin Powell, and was unafraid to alienate such people. The 1980 third-party candidacy of "Republican" Senator John Anderson resulted from just such a disenfranchisement of liberal Republicans. But while Anderson expected to undermine Reagan in that year's election, in the end he took votes from incumbent Democrat Jimmy Carter, thereby amplifying Reagan's landslide victory.
The Reagan model worked then, and can work just as effectively today. Sadly, after successfully launching the "Gingrich Revolution" on similar premises in 1994, the one-time House Speaker has since embarked on a futile path of attempting to ingratiate himself to the Democrat opposition by watering down the conservatism that once had propelled him to the political forefront. Since leaving public office, his most notable "achievement" was a joint television appearance with Democrat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, attempting to raise awareness of "global warming.
Real Republicans can and should make major gains in 2010. But they will only succeed if they blatantly contrast themselves against the miserable failure that is the Obama/Democrat agenda. Unfortunately, they do not yet appear to be up to that task.
The battle for America must first be won within the GOP. Otherwise, it does not matter how thoroughly Obama wrecks the country; "Me Too" Republicanism will never be embraced as an alternative.
Copyright ©2009 Christopher G. Adamo