William Hamilton " Election 2012: Can the GOP come back to power?
May 14, 2009
Sometimes, one meets work-a-day Americans who know they don’t believe in socialism (the redistribution of wealth from those who have earned it to those who either won’t or can’t work). In addition, they are turned off by the left-wing social policies of those in control of today’s Democratic Party.
They “think” they are Republicans; however, they are confused by some of the positions taken by big name Republicans such as: Senators Susan Collins, Olympia Snow, John McCain, George Voinovich, Lindsay Graham, Mel Martinez, former Republican Senator Bob Dole, and by former Republican Senator Arlen Specter
Viewed from the perspective of true conservatism, the reason for their confusion is because some Republicans are Republicans-in-name-only (RINOs). RINOs are elected officials who are willing to join with Democrats in support of certain social issues, in support of higher taxes and in support of a higher national debt to finance an ever-larger national government aimed at ever-increasing federal intrusion into activities that the U.S. Constitution reserves to the states and to individual citizens.
So, if one wants to be a true conservative, what does one believe? Three fairly recent books may be of help: Mark R. Levin’s “Liberty and Tyranny: A Conservative Manifesto,” Dr. Frank Luntz “Words That Work,” and Professor Michael I. Meyerson’s “Liberty’s Blueprint.”
Professor Meyerson’s book is recommended for those who really want to get into the nuts and bolts of what our nation’s Founders were doing and thinking at the birth of our nation. For the shortest exposition of conservative theory and belief, “Liberty and Tyranny” by Mark R. Levin is without peer.
Next, the question arises: Should conservatives bolt the Republican Party and run a third-party candidate in 2012? No third party presidential candidate has ever won. So, history says that is the way to lose, and lose big. What about reform of the Republican Party? Yes, political parties have reformed themselves in the past and returned to political power.
It is an axiom of political science that when you are the political party-in-power (today’s Democrats), then your political party’s machinery is of secondary importance. When you are the political party out-of-power (today’s Republicans) then your political party becomes of primary importance because it is only through building a strong political party from the grass roots up that you can regain control of Congress and the White House.
As Dr. Luntz details in his book, Republicans had a chance to restore government by the people when they took control of the House in 1994. But, as time went on, they forgot how to be conservatives, governing more and more as moderate Democrats.
When Republicans govern as conservatives they almost always win re-election. But when Republicans forget the center-right, conservative coalition that puts them in office, they lose.
How does one explain the election of Barack H. Obama? He was the anti-Bush. Plus the GOP ran a nice man, but a poor campaigner. Moreover his opponent’s negatives were hidden by the mainstream media. Also, toward the end of the campaign when the economy started its plunge, the mainstream media overlooked the fact that the Democrats had been in charge of Congress for the previous two years. The dive in the economy was blamed on the incumbent GOP president and, by implication, on the GOP presidential candidate.
In 2008, when nine states shifted from GOP to Democrat, Obama took the Electoral College 365 to 173. But, in terms of the popular vote, 45.7-percent voted against Obama. Recent polling data show 34 percent strongly in favor or Obama and 34 percent strongly opposed to him. Thus, the 2012 election will be a contest to get at least 51 percent of that undecided 32 percent.
In 2012, a GOP, reformed on conservative principles and offering truly conservative candidates, could build on that 45.7-percent base and win a decisive majority of today’s undecided 32 percent. Otherwise, it’s eight years of Obama.
” William Hamilton, a syndicated columnist and a featured commentator for USA Today, studied at Harvard’s JFK School of Government. Dr. Hamilton is a former assistant professor of political science and history at Nebraska Wesleyan University.
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