It’s been tough to be a conservative lately. I turn on the news and see devout praise for President Barack Obama and barefaced vitriol for former Alaskan Gov. Sarah Palin. I read The Michigan Daily and discover College Republicans at the University are in disarray after the resignation of a centrist chairman. And don’t even get me started on most professors. Everywhere I turn, it seems something manages to remind me that the GOP has no direction, no leadership and no chance of regaining power.
A solution bubbling up from many pundits and leaders on the right is moderation. They argue for the Republican Party’s modernization through the adoption of more progressive values. The country is headed left, they say. To survive, Republicans should loosen their ties to the past and strive to land the support of America’s moderate and undecided voters. The era of Reagan is dead, and the conservative movement must be redefined.
There’s no way to sugarcoat what I think about this. It is undoubtedly, 100 percent, indisputably wrong. A large, organized move to moderate the GOP would end the party as we know it and then go on to wipe Republicans off the political map entirely. Betraying the strong, organized, spirited voice of its conservative core would be the worst move the party could make.
Liberals have my utmost respect in one very important facet of their psyches. When arguing core beliefs, rarely will a liberal submit to moderation. If you ask a progressive about health care, abortion, gay marriage or global warming, chances are high that person will be unwilling to give much ground. Compromise on these issues would be in direct violation of what they believe is right. How can you compromise on a woman’s right to her body or the right of two people to enter into a matrimony recognized by the state? The majority of liberals whose ideas I have read or heard attack these issues with a heartfelt drive and refuse to rest until what they believe comes to fruition.
If you ask me, it isn’t Obama’s charisma, some catchy buzzwords or even hatred of George W. Bush that is driving the current Democrat wave of power. It’s the party’s relentless ambition to push their values. “Hope” and “change” mean nothing, superficially, but underneath they represent a movement unwilling to accept anything but victory.
Some suggest the GOP should combat the Democrats by adopting more progressive values in an effort to lure centrists not totally sold on the left’s agenda. This makes absolutely no sense to me. With Obama and a host of other liberal superstars on one side of the ticket, why would anyone be tempted to vote for Democrat Lite?
In fact, Republicans have already tried to put a moderate candidate in the White House, and they failed miserably. If anyone was going to lure moderate voters as moderates to the Republican side, it was Sen. John McCain (R–Ariz.). One would be hard-pressed to find a voice in Washington more dedicated to bipartisanship. McCain co-sponsored Congressional legislation with Democratic Senators Ted Kennedy, Joe Lieberman and Russell Feingold. McCain proudly stood by his “maverick” moniker given to him by the media as a symbol of his unwillingness to let party politics stand in his way.
The maverick lost to Obama, a candidate who promised bipartisanship — as long as it was the Republicans who were compromising. For Obama and most Democrats, bipartisanship means moderates and Republicans caving to the liberal will. Need evidence? Look at the reaction to the Stupak Amendment in the recent House health care bill. Democrat leaders included the amendment, which bans federal health insurance from covering abortions, to garner support of a few moderate voters. Rather than graciously accepting this miniscule revision to a massive bill that is almost void of conservative input, many on the left chastised Stupak and House leaders supporting such a disturbing change.
I don’t blame Stupak’s attackers or any liberals for sticking to their guns. Bipartisanship in Washington is a crock. Liberals have regained political power in America because they never wavered in their efforts to convince the public that they were right and the political right was wrong.
Republicans need to take a page out of their playbook. Moderation isn’t the answer for the GOP. The party needs to pull out all the stops to convince voters that conservative values are the driving force behind America’s success. They need to find a leader who can fearlessly and eloquently communicate this message, not to entice centrists and moderate Democrats to vote Republican, but to convert them into true conservatives.
Chris Koslowski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.