Have you read Peggy Noonan today? If not, you should. It was one of those “aha!” columns that makes some simple points anyone could make, but so few actually do. And the two points just smack you across the face if you’re already in one of those melancholy, “Why can’t the GOP get its s*** in gear” moods.
She writes of D.C. political apparatchiks
They serve and rarely leave. So often people work in government and make it more of a swamp; then they leave and become mosquitoes living off the pond scum, buzzing off the surface, eating well, issuing their little stings.
I am harsh. But it’s something I often wonder: Why don’t people in Washington go home anymore?
That’s profound point one. Profound point two is even better.
The Bush people don’t seem to spend much time on loyalty to the party per se, only to their guy.
And there you have it. My point exactly. Now, you’re probably lost on what my point is, as I haven’t said it, but I’ve been saying it for a while (have you been listening). These two points Mrs. Noonan makes sum up so much of your frustration and you don’t even know it.
Here’s the deal . . .
The GOP has ceased to be a party of ideas. We have John Boehner playing to keep Jerry Lewis on the Appropriations Committee, despite his FBI investigation. He’s added to the Appropriations Committee Ken Calvert, also under investigation.
We have Mitch McConnell and the GOP in the Senate caving on earmarks reform, funding bridges to no where, and backing down on judges. We have the White House doing cutesy policy maneuvers, kissing up to China for trade, and reminding people “We gave you John Roberts and Sam Alito and the stem cell veto so suck it up” whenever we point out that they’re drifting leftward.
In short, we have a Republican Party that understands politics is just a game and decided to make policy an extension of that game. It’s no longer about ideas, it’s about retaining power. Have the GOP appropriators even realized they are out of power yet?
For the longest time, “policy as a game” meant supporting the social conservative agenda at the expense of the fiscal conservative agenda. After all, stay at home Christian moms turn out to vote in higher numbers than Club For Growth donors. And when the President made a grand social conservative move like banning government funded stem cell research, they strained to say to the fiscal cons clamoring for a vetoed budget, “Hey, look here, we’re stopping government spending on embryo killing. Suck it up.”
It’s all a game to them. And when they leave the White House, they don’t go home to America (D.C. is not America. It is Rome — an ideal to everyone whose never been there and a pagan political whore house to anyone who has spent too much time there) they stay in D.C. and play the game from the outside for corporations or for various policy initiatives, building unique coalitions for each issue without a united army.
And so it is that the fiscal conservatives and social conservatives have begun to split. And so it is that the Republicans act like they were never either — after all, what good are the social-cons and fiscal-cons if they aren’t working together. The problem, of course, is that the Democrats have a pretty good hold on most other groups. (“But hey,” the RNC says, “there’s always the moderates!”)
This leads me to my larger points.
First, it’s why I wouldn’t be upset with having Rudy as President. Say what you will. Lie if you have to, but he is a fiscal conservative. The social conservatives like me have, at the end of the game, been racking up all the points for our team. So, I’d be quite happy letting a man who is largely a fiscal-con run the show for us social-cons for a while, simply because Rudy understands the coalition. He knows he needs it. He’s not going to screw it up. He may not be pro-life, but he’s not going to tear out the floor of the party. (I’m still with Fred, but Rudy wouldn’t bother me)
Second, while you and I are having our pity party and observing the Republican party cracking up around a lack of ideas, there’s life over at Mordor. They are mobilizing behind a set of ideas to entrench their power.
They want the “Employee Free Choice Act” to start growing unions again by denying free choice to employees. They want “clean election laws” to force taxpayers to fund Democratic candidates for office. They want “colonial reform” even. Oh, and they want to “re-locate government spending” to alter the American economy in favor of progressive ideas, e.g. no money for energy exploration, socialized medicine instead.
The left has begun again to organize around socialist ideals. Bush hatred will no longer get them moving forward. They need new energy and they have these new ideas.
Meanwhile, our side is still licking its wounds from 2006 and our leaders have decided to take a “devil may care” attitude and fend for themselves — working to bring each part of our grand coalition back on an “as needed” basis. In the meantime, we don’t have the strength to stand against “colonial reform.” None of the parts of our coalition really trust or like each other enough to sit in the same room. And even if they did, the Bushies are only about the Bushies and the GOP leadership is only about avoiding more FBI investigations while they dole out the earmarks.
Friends, we need to bring our coalition back together. I don’t expect Dick Armey to apologize to Dr. Dobson. And I don’t expect Dr. Dobson to back down from his Rudy comments. But the rest of us need to work together again. We need to get out of the “policy is a game” mantra that we, at some point, started living and return to “policy is life.”
If we cannot reconnect, we won’t get back in the majority. And we start where Peggy Noonan’s points leave us. We don’t rely on the Bushies to get us where we need to go. And we don’t look in Washington; we look outside Washington. We look to leaders leading in the states. We look to activists making differences in the states. We look to ourselves. We’re not in the policy as a game. Our pocketbooks, our children’s minds, our lives know what their policy victories mean.
So, what are the ideas to reunite the fiscal and social conservatives? What are the ideas one side might have to suck up for the benefit of the other side?
Let’s move beyond the punditry folks. We’ve got enough of those. Now we need thinkers and doers. And we online conservatives, online Republicans, we need to fight — first to get our party back, then to get back the majority.