After RNC Chairman Reince Priebus unveiled the Republican Party’s Growth and Opportunity Project last month, conservatives were hopeful this marked a fundamental change in the direction of the party. The 100-page document’s emphasis on engaging the grassroots and broadening party appeal seemed to indicate GOP leaders were looking to make amends with their base. Less than a month later however, the RNC renounced these claims and once again revealed the greatest hindrance to the GOP’s success: the party itself.
Many Republicans were aghast to witness the blatant political theater that took place last year during the Republican National Convention. Not only were controversial rules changes ushered in by Romney supporters and the establishment but video was released shortly thereafter revealing that the votes were rigged.
As an attempt to quell the growing animosity among grassroots conservatives, the RNC launched the Growth and Opportunity Project and offered to further discuss the rules changes at the RNC’s Spring Meeting.
Initially, it was believed the RNC was sincere in their efforts to overturn the recent powergrabs that rendered delegates nothing more than pawns being used in a chess match that had long been decided without them. As FreedomWorks New Media Director Kristina Ribali noted however, this was hardly the case:
AJ Delgado had a piece in Mediaite last weekend asking whether conservatism was dead or not. She cites three major policy “defeats” as she sees them for conservatism this month.
1) Immigration reform is all but a foregone conclusion.
2) The gay marriage debate is essentially over.
3) The plan to defund ObamaCare — conservatives’ last stand after the Supreme Court failed to throw out the Act — is over
I think Miss Delgado misses a lot in construing all of these as catastrophic defeats for conservatives. A look at each issue on its own shows that it is not as catastrophic as it first appears.
Firstly, I wouldn’t put my money on comprehensive immigration reform becoming law. After Rand Paul outlined his position on the issue last week, he has been very careful to walk back certain aspects of it. Plus, the GOP House has shown exactly no interest in this issue. Finally, this is an issue that divides Democrats as well. Blue collar unions, African Americans, and many environmentalists want to kill immigration reform as well for their own reasons.
As for gay marriage, this is probably her strongest argument. Yes the gay marriage is over. It will become the law of the land in every state in the country within 20 years, if that. What conservatives need to is rebrand on this issue. What conservatives need to fight for on this issue is to make sure adequate religious liberty and conscience protections are in place for churches, businesses, adoption agencies and others opposed to gay marriage.
News broke over the weekend that Karl Rove was launching a new PAC aimed at helping establishment Republicans defeat conservatives in primary races. As I explained yesterday, this move is tantamount to declaring war on grassroots fiscal conservatives.
Based on the formation of this new PAC, the absurdly named “Conservative Victory Project,” Rove obviously wishes that Rand Paul, Mike Lee, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio hadn’t have won their primary battles, in which they were pitted against more establishment candidates.
Yesterday, Matt Kibbe, President and CEO of FreedomWorks, responded to Rove’s new PAC in a statement, noting that the “Empire is striking back.”
“Imagine a Republican Party without the leadership, energy and principled ideas coming from Senators like Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Pat Toomey and Mike Lee, because that is what you would get from a lack of real primary race competition now being proposed by Karl Rove,” said Kibbe. “The choice is simple: should voters choose who represents them in Washington, DC, or should political insiders make the decision behind closed doors?”
Echoing Ronald Reagan’s words of “rais[ing] bold colors, not pale pastels,” Kibbe noted that a watered down vision will not lead the Republican Party to electoral success. “We believe that good ideas, compelling candidates, and open competition are the only way to rehabilitate the GOP,” explained Kibbe, “and the diverse group of compelling young leaders our grassroots community has helped bring to Congress speaks for itself.”
After listening to ten days of hand wringing and doom saying from the usual suspects that Republicans must abandon our principles if we are to survive, we need a little of Mark Twain’s common sense. I suggest we all take it to heart.
He said, “We should be careful to get out of an experience only the wisdom that is in it — and stop there; lest we be like the cat that sits down on a hot stove-lid. She will never sit down on a hot stove-lid again — and that is well; but also she will never sit down on a cold one anymore.”
So it is in that spirit that I will begin with three incontrovertible truths about this election.
First, the same election that returned Barack Obama to the White House also returned the second largest House Republican majority since World War II - bigger than anything Newt Gingrich ever had.
Second, according to polls before, during and after this election, the American people agree with us fundamentally on issues involving the economy, Obamacare, government spending, bailouts - you name it.
Third, the American people are about to get a graduate level course in Obamanomics, and at the end of that course, they are going to be a lot sadder and a lot wiser.
That is not to say that there aren’t many lessons that we need to learn and to learn well from this election, particularly here in California. But capitulation is not one of them.
Suhail Khan served as a senior political appointee with the Bush administration. He served in the White House Office of Public Liaison assisting in the President’s outreach to various faith communities. Khan also served as Assistant to the Secretary for Policy under U.S. Secretary Mary Peters at the U.S. Department of Transportation. He now works at Microsoft as their Director of External Affairs.
Khan also serves on the boards of the American Conservative Union and the Indian American Republican Council.
As a conservative operative, Khan’s behind-the-scenes work to promote free-market principles and encourage people of all faiths to become politically active has been beneficial to the liberty movement. You can follow him on Twitter @Suhail_A_Khan.
Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series of “Profiles in Liberty” interviews Matt will present with leaders of the conservative and libertarian movement.
W. James Antle is an associate editor of The American Spectator and a contributing editor to The American Conservative. As a prolific columnist, Jim’s work has been published in Politico, The Washington Times, National Review, LewRockwell.com, The Guardian (UK), Takimag, and many others. Business Insider ranked Jim as 1 of the 50 pundits you must pay attention to in 2012. He posts wry, pessimistic tweets at @jimantle.
Matt Naugle: How did you become a conservative?
Jim Antle: I grew up in Massachusetts while Michael Dukakis was governor and Ronald Reagan was president. If that perfect laboratory experiment doesn’t turn you into a conservative, God help you.
MN: How did you make the transition from working in IT to working alongside Pat Buchanan?
JA: I sold my first freelance piece to The American Conservative while I was still working in the IT department of a Boston-based dot-com. My first magazine cover story, a piece on the Bush-era divisions between libertarians and conservatives, was written during that time period. One day in early 2004 I was sitting at my desk and I got a call inviting me to come interview for a job at TAC. The rest was an extremely minor footnote to sub-history.
As we role merrily right along into November, I, along with the rest of the libertarian crowd, am watching the Republican Party blissfully make the same tired mistakes yet again. Watching what appears to be unsynchronized cat herding under penalty of broken knee caps can be entertaining, but at this point, I’m really close to pulling out a speech worthy of a spot in Pulp Fiction on Samuel Jackson’s cue cards.
On saying “we have to remove Obama” out of fear and we can only support whoever the eventual GOP Nominee is: I’ve already written about this subject in The Strategy of Hating One. In the current cycle, it’s President Obama, but the previous installment was Bill Clinton and little blue dress. You can point to a general belief that the President is a Marxist or Socialist without too much opposition. You can make the point that the closest description of our country is Fascism. But I have to challenge you to point out the differences between the last Republican President or the alternative of McCain, and this Democrat President. We have stayed in Iraq until they are kicking us out, we have escalated Afghanistan, Libya, kept Gitmo open. Leaving the main differences that the increase in spending has been larger than say a McCain might have done, and Obamacare has been pushed through. And frankly, Obamacare could very well be named McCain-Care given the same congressional make-up.
GOP hopefuls will square off tonight for the second time in a week, this time at a debate sponsored by CNN and the Tea Party Express in Tampa, Florida. We’re likely to see fireworks similar to what we saw on Thursday. Rick Perry, who is considered to be the frontrunner, will no doubt be a target again by Mitt Romney and Ron Paul. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Michele Bachmann join the parade. President Barack Obama is sure to take criticism, and rightly so, over his latest stimulus gimmick.
Before we dive into the power rankings, here is a look at the latest polling in the race.
Rick Perry (even): Perry has become a punching bag for other candidates near the front of the race. Romney is knocking him over Social Security, Paul is taking him to task for being a former Democrat that backed Al Gore and supported HillaryCare and a pro-Bachmann group plans to run ads against him over immigration. Polls indicate that he is still the frontrunner, but he needs to improve in debates and hope at the ramp up attacks don’t stick.
In case you weren’t able to catch it last night, here is the full video of the Republican debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California. You’ll notice that the debate was centered around Rick Perry and Mitt Romney, not surprising since the race is largely between the two of them right now.
While Perry and Romney sparred and the former also took heat for laying the blueprint for ObamaCare, they came out of the debate OK. This was also Jon Huntsman’s best debate performance, to the point that I’d say he was a winner (and I’m not a fan of the guy, though his tax reform plan is very good). And as much I hate to say it, Ron Paul came off very bad last night; not that he is a good debater anyway. Michele Bachmann, who was barely noticed, and everyone else were just window dressing.
You can read a fact-check of the debate here.
So Paul Ryan announced his plan to balance the budget, cut trillions from proposed spending, and put America on a path to paying off the deficit. Republicans around the country are hailing it as the second coming of Ronald Reagan, and Democrats continue to call any reasonable idea extreme.
Me? I am not at all excited.
Let me explain. Paul Ryan’s proposal continues to run a deficit for the next 26 years. That means that even if the plan was adopted as is, and we know it won’t be, the best we can possibly hope for is a deficit that continues to swell for 26 more years before the first dollar is paid off.
Add to this that his projections also rely on unemployment reaching 3%, and you can quickly see that the the whole thing is just not that realistic.
I am glad that Representative Ryan has taken some leadership where there has been none, and I do not want to beat up on the guy, but this plan just isn’t enough. It is time to get real. And it is time to make some really tough choices.
We shouldn’t be looking at 26 years of additional deficits as the best we can do.