After spending part of my weekend with my fellow right-wing extremists from the York County Republican Party, the experience left me feeling more reflective on the current direction of the national party rather than energized about the good stuff happening on the local level. I’m going to try to put those impressions into words, but it may not all make sense. I’m still trying to work through what I believe the next steps should be for the Washington Republicans, but I’m going to suggest a few things and throw them out there for discussion.
So here goes…
Step #1: Recognize and acknowledge your own failure to live up to the standards you set when running for office. For the Party itself, acknowledge the deviation from what we claim as our core values — limited government and a commitment to fighting wasteful spending. It also wouldn’t hurt to find strong candidates to replace any corrupt Republican survivors in our Congress.
There is so much criticism of Democrats and President Obama (most of it well-deserved) about their agenda and the outrageous sums of money that will be spent by this administration. Republicans (and especially fiscal conservatives) are correct to be concerned about that. What Republicans fail to recognize is their own culpability in the wilderness state than our party now finds itself in. We did start this fiscal irresponsibility, and a few folks in our party are in fact corrupt. Failing to admit that continues to damage our credibility, and it prevents my party from becoming a viable alternative to the President and the Democrat party.
Admitting there is a problem with the lack of direction / leadership in our party is not the most painful part of this recovery process, however. We must make a choice to change our behavior — not so much to attract the independents and moderates, but to regain lost credibility on the issues we used to own over the Democrats. You can’t win elections without the base, and moving left loses that base for the Republicans.
Taking this first step won’t automatically fix our problems. There may be a few more lost elections in the current future of the Republican Party. But we can accelerate the process of regaining what we have lost if we start by admitting our mistakes and making a clear break from our past failures. Then when we attack the Democrats for wasteful spending and President Obama for his entire agenda, people might actually start listening to what we have to say.