Squaring the Culture

"...and I will make justice the plumb line, and righteousness the level;
then hail will sweep away the refuge of lies,
and the waters will overflow the secret place."
Isaiah 28:17

02/07/2008 (6:42 am)

The Core Republican Debate

John Hinderaker of Power Line posted what is likely to be the archetype of the debate that will engulf the Republican party for the coming months. He chastises conservatives over their unwillingness to accept John McCain as their candidate. The debate is raging.

I believe Hinderaker is wrong. What we’re seeing is a massive reassessment of what it means to be a Republican. A large number of us are recognizing that the Republican party does not stand for what we stand for, and are wondering what to do about it.

One particular comment on Hinderaker’s site, by a fellow calling himself Lestat72, expresses clearly what I believe to be the core objection to conservatives going along peacefully with a McCain candidacy. Though in fact I haven’t made up my mind what to do yet, I want to reproduce this thought. Lestat, take it away:

We’re not looking for perfection. Here’s the issue: Whenever we “moderate” our views, it leads to the same goals that the Left pursues, just more slowly. Creeping socialism. We want someone to take a strong stand against the statist tide that threatens to sweep our country into European-style malaise. They’re winning – again, slowly, but surely. Every inch we give them is another loss for the cause of freedom.

There it is. Personally, I believe that the end result of the leftward crawl is something far worse than mere malaise, but regardless of that, the goal is actually to reverse the direction of the crawl. Reagan accomplished the first steps. We thought the Congress that swept into power in 1994 would accomplish more. We were disappointed. We thought George W. Bush would accomplish still more. We were disappointed.

It feels like betrayal. We elected these men to effect a very specific change. They did not do it. They compromised with the enemy, and some enriched themselves, rather than fighting the battle we had appointed them to fight.

Now we’re examining ourselves and asking who we are, and some of us are facing this thought: if the Republican party stands for just a slower slide into socialism, do we really want to be Republicans? For me, that’s simple. If that’s the question, the answer is clearly “No.”

I’m considering the implications of that thought. Again, I haven’t decided yet what I’m going to do, but anybody who takes this concern as mere childishness is belittling a genuine crisis of conscience.

Hinderaker and other moderating voices remind us that politics is compromise. The truth is, though, that on a surprising number of issues, most Americans agree, and the only necessary compromise is over the small details of the plan. Newt Gingrich has pointed this out in the opening chapter of his book, “Real Change: From the World That Fails to the World That Works” (Regnery Publishing, 2008). Asked whether children should be permitted to pray in school, 94% agree. Asked whether English should be America’s official language, 87% agree. Asked whether it’s possible to negotiate with terrorist groups like al Qaeda, 79% say no. Asked whether it’s important for government to address the Social Security crisis, 96% say yes. Asked if they support a single income tax rate of 17% for everyone with standard deductions for self, spouse, and kids, 73% say yes. Eighty-seven percent say there should be work requirements for welfare. Seventy-two percent say government should support faith-based initiatives to help the poor. And so on.

Says Gingrich:

The media tell us America is divided between conservative red states and liberal blue states. They tell us red and blue are equally divided… But that’s simply not true. The reality is that the American people are united on almost every important issue facing our country. The real division is between red-white-and-blue America (about 85 percent of the country) and a fringe on the left (about 15 percent of the country.)

This divide shows up in elections. Rush Limbaugh has commented on this repeatedly; when candidates stand on solid conservative positions, they win. Lestat72 again:

The idea that we must moderate our positions to win elections is demonstrably false. Consider 1980, 1984, and 1994. When the GOP runs on strongly conservative platforms, it wins in landslides. When it moderates its message/record, as in 1976, 1996, and 2006, it loses badly.

We’ve waited 20 years for the Republican party to decide to stand for what we believe. Now we’re being told the Republican party doesn’t really believe that.

What we’re seeing is not a tantrum, it’s a reassessment. If the Republican party does not stand for the sensible culture most of us know is right, then who will stand for it? Certainly not the Democrats. And if not the Republicans, and not the Democrats, what do we do next?

What we cannot do next is simply sit back and let it happen. A small minority has taken over the culture. Neither party is willing to stand up to it. Somebody must. It’s that simple.

« « Looks Like We're All Gonna Need These | Main | The Day After the Core Republican Debate » »


February 7, 2008 @ 6:59 am #

I found your blog on google and read a few of your other posts. I just added you to my Google News Reader. Keep up the good work. Look forward to reading more from you in the future.

Kacin Alexander

February 7, 2008 @ 9:16 am #

Thanks, Kacin, and welcome.

February 7, 2008 @ 1:13 pm #

I read your comments on Townhall.com today and was impressed by both your command of reason and the language. You present a clear statement of what many of us are thinking.

To the question of what happens next, I would suggest that Gerald Ford’s loss to Jimmy Carter set the stage for Ronald Reagan’s presidency but it didn’t happen on its own. A lot of groundwork must take place first before conservatives can regain their presence. (See Margaret Thatcher’s, The Downing Street Years.)

In the meantime, the McCainians would be well served to consider this: If McDonalds decides to sell poop burgers, don’t blame the consumers for deciding not to eat there. The same holds true for the Republican Party. Don’t blame Conservatives for deciding not to support a Liberal.

February 7, 2008 @ 2:04 pm #

Bob and Shelly, I found your link on Captains Quarters. Great blog you have going here. I look forward to more.

February 7, 2008 @ 6:20 pm #

To the extent that the Republican Party has been cancerously invated and taken over by “the Holy-Rollers and the Neo-Cons” (see Bob Gold’s Invasion of the Party Snatchers), the GOP has increasingly been degraded as an alternative to the malignant populism into which the Democrat Party begun to abjectly sink in 1896.

Goldwater – and, later, Reagan – gave the Republican Party a soul, a brain, and a spine.

The recrudescence of the “Rockefeller Republicans” have sold the party’s soul and pithed it like a high school laboratory frog.

Nixon – with his War on (Some) Drugs, his proliferation of bureaucracies, and almost contemptuously offhanded announcement that “the gold window is closed” (signalling the complete divorcement of the U.S. dollar from any sort of specie payment whatsoever) – was the reason why a formal Libertarian Party had to arise in the early ’70s.

Those of us who are fiscal conservatives, strict constitutionalists, and advocates of individual rights came to the conclusion that there was a fundamental rot at the root of the Republican Party, and despite the resurrection of truly conservative “Goldwater Republicanism” in the person of Ronald Reagan, there was no denying the influence of those invidious cabals determined to make of the GOP nothing more than America’s “Socialist Party B.”

The all-but-assured nomination of John McCain today effectively guarantees the ascendency of Nixonian dominance in the Republican Party, and I may not live long enough to see the corrections needed to restore honest, “limited-government” conservatism among the GOP leadership.

The Republican Party has become the political vehicle of plundering ward-heelers, fumbling imperialiss, and glassy-eyed theocrats.

To the extent that I can be assured that I will be able to vote my true political sentiments in November when Dr. Ron Paul runs as an independent or the Libertarian Party nominee, I take no comfort in the destruction of the Republican Party as a force for change in the political and economic life of my country.

The people backing the candidacy of John McCain have turned Reagan’s Shining City on the Hill into a sordid, stinking slum athwart the swamp.

February 7, 2008 @ 8:36 pm #

My first reaction to a McCain nomination was to withdraw from the whole political discussion/process. But after reading a Michelle Malkin blog earlier I decided to take her advice. In the future I’ll only support the real conservative candidates. The RINOS and the Republican party as a whole will not see a cent of my money. The Republican party has left us. They all belong to an elite club. They only look after the interset of that select few. They only look after the interests of those in their inner circle.They do not share our intersts. We must do something about that.

February 8, 2008 @ 5:17 am #

Bob, these are some of the most lucid thoughts I have read in a while about the election. I have been a Reagan republican since Reagan, who was the first president I was able to vote for. He inspired people with his honestly, friendliness and genuine humility. He was truly a good man.

What’s happening today is we are letting liberal vote in our earliest state primaries, and they did in droves just to give McCain the edge, because they know he can’t ever win. Then the news hoops up the momentum and Huck colludes with him to take out Romney, and Viola, we have a candidate the majority of us don’t want.

He is going to look like yesterdays dead fish in a debate with Obama, or as one guy put it, “He’ll look like Mickey Rooney debating Denzel Washington.” McCain is very old, angry, a really poor debater, sick looking, corrupt, tempermental, and this is the guy we think is going to appeal across the aisle to some dems and indies? Anyone who believes that is dumber than a football bat. These images make all the difference in the world.

I will not vote for the man under any circumstances. My plan is to note vote until the party comes back to conservatives, if they don’t, Oh well.

February 11, 2008 @ 9:19 am #

[…] who have been reading this site know that I’ve been pondering what to do now that McCain has practically sown up the Republican nomination. To a conservative, […]

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