Republicans, despite Americans' escalating discontent with the Obama administration and liberal Democrats, are still on the verge of irrelevancy. Even worse, they still don't understand why. Here's why and here's what to do about it.
• The why: it's the Republicans In Name Only (RINOs), stupid. Despite a recent Gallup Poll showing that conservatives outnumber liberals and moderates in every state of the union, too many Republicans still believe that offering the electorate a slightly different version of the Democratic party is their best chance for re-capturing Congress.
That's sheer insanity.
The "McCain wing" of the party got beaten to a pulp in both 2006 and 2008, and too many Republicans still believe that RINO-ism had nothing to do with it. Even crazier, they can watch a Democratic party hijacked by the lunatic left alienate more and more Americans daily, and still insist that meeting these socialist utopians "halfway" will accrue to the Republican Party's benefit.
It won't period.
The fight going on in Washington, D.C. isn't about a specific bill or program. It's an all-out war for the heart and soul of America. It won't be won by a party willing to accept a "little bit" of socialism for the comforting illusion of bipartisanship. There are millions of Americans who don't want "watered down" government-run health care, cap-and-trade "lite," illegal immigration "reform," or "just a few" trillion dollars more added to the national debt.
They want deliverance from a Democratic party which believes this country needs to be centrally controlled by a bunch of holier-than-thou, know-it-alls who believe the average American is dumber than a rock.
That deliverance isn't about compromise. It's about going toe-to-toe with a party which has demonstrated its willingness to do anything even that which is detrimental to the nation to achieve its agenda. It's about taking the heat from an in-the-tank media which will offer Republicans nothing but scorn unless they agree with Democrats, and giving back as good as one gets. Its' about offering Americans a stark choice between competing ideas and ideologies.
In short, it's about embracing genuine conservatism or embracing irrelevancy.
• The how: it starts with the Republican National Committee, its Chairman Michael Steele, and involves two major components. First, it requires re-vamping the primary process. That Republicans were forced to endure John McCain as their presidential candidate, is a testament to the idea that allowing open primaries where Democrats can cross party lines to vote for a Republican is a spectacularly bad idea. Whatever needs to be done to kill this process should be undertaken immediately.
Second, make conservatism the baseline criterion for RNC support. In my home state of Florida, for example, that means telling well-connected, party insider Charlie Crist a RINO's RINO if ever there was one that he's on his own, and that the RNC will be backing his conservative opponent, Marco Rubio.
Will Crist supporters howl? Too bad. Florida's the fourth largest state in the Union, and a clear commitment by the RNC to embrace the conservative over the RINO will do wonders for voters disgusted with the country club, go-along-to-get-along, Republican status quo.
In short, grow a pair, Mr. Steele.
Once Republicans are just as committed to conservatism as Democrats are to liberalism, the electorate will appreciate the difference. They will see Democrats committed to tax-and-spend, budget-busting programs and Republicans committed to rescuing us from national bankruptcy. They will see Democrats committed to giving jihadists Constitutional rights, and Republicans committed to eliminating them as a national security threat. They will Democrats committed to greater control over American lives and Republicans committed to individual freedom. They will a Democratic party committed to gun control versus a Republican party which still treasures the Second Amendment. And so on and so forth.
It's about time Republicans realized that it was the abandonment of their core principles as in their misguided embrace of "compassionate conservatism" which led directly to their repudiation by the American voter. No political party can be "all things to all people," and nothing insults the average American voter more than watching some hack politician attempting to play both ends against the middle.
Most Americans are both angry and terrified by what they see going on in Washington, D.C. They're yearning for some genuine straight talk not the pablum they got from John McCain, or the high-toned, elitist b.s. Obama and the Democrats are currently slinging.
The electorate is in play 2010 and beyond, Republicans. Embrace conservatism and America will embrace you.
It's all there for the taking. Go take it.
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