Will Republicans seize the opportunity?

Political operatives on both sides of the aisle are discussing the 2008 election as if it were only days away. But this seemingly premature preoccupation is hardly a dismissal of the important issues facing President Bush in his second term. Rather, this talk of the next presidential race is representative of the pivotal changes in the political landscape that occurred last November.

Unfortunately, the forces of 'moderation' are still at work within the GOP, threatening to undermine the tremendous gains made by conservatives in the elections. Arnold Schwarzenegger contends that the Republican Party should move 'to the center' (which means to the left) on social issues.

Voices from within the RNC contemplate running a social 'moderate' as the best means of countering a potential Hillary candidacy. And political strategist Dick Morris warned against GOP senators playing hardball in response to Democrat filibusters of judicial nominees.

But although the Republican Party cannot afford to become arrogant and heavy handed in the wake of its recent victories, neither should it be fixated on gaining the approval of its political rivals, or the avoidance of controversy.

Americans voted as they did in hopes of fending off the catastrophe of a Kerry Presidency, but also because they desire the restoration of conservative and traditionally pro—American/pro—Constitutional government in Washington. So far, signs have been mixed.

President Bush remains devoted to an immigration policy that, aside from minor window dressing, amounts to 'open borders.' In the best of times, a plan of this nature can be detrimental to national cohesiveness. But, with America facing the ongoing threat of terrorist incursions, such an approach verges on the suicidal.

Fortunately the Congress, operating on a level that is much closer to the 'grassroots,' is asserting itself against the President's effort to further weaken barriers to illegal immigration. Though internal conflict isn't good for the overall unity of the party, if Congressional Republicans remain steadfast, they will avert a situation that many conservatives would regard as nothing less than betrayal.

Second only to the War on Terror in the minds of conservatives is the looming menace of judicial activism. And on this front, the President appears to be rising to the fight. Having perhaps recognized the need to abandon his 'new tone' of compromise and conciliation, he announced his intention to re—nominate twenty of his previous candidates for federal judgeships. This move constitutes a direct confrontation with filibustering Democrats.

Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democrats' new Minority Leader, claimed to be 'extremely disappointed,' and described the nominees as 'extremist.' Other prominent Democrats have similarly excoriated the President. Nevertheless, if Senate Republicans remain true to principle and play their strategy correctly, the situation could prove to be a huge 'win/win' for them.

A continuation of the Democrat filibusters, formerly spearheaded by then Minority Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota, might well place Reid, a 'red state Democrat' on the same track that led to Daschle's early retirement from public office.

Furthermore the so—called 'nuclear option,' being pondered by the Republicans as a counter to the power of the filibuster, would lower the number of votes required to end debate and allow an 'up or down' decision on nominees. This process could place an unwelcome spotlight on those Democrats who still choose to obstruct a simple majority vote, as stipulated by the Constitution.

Democrats' dismay, resulting from the country's 'red shift' during recent elections, has been made evident by some other phenomenal events of the post election period. According to a December 24 Los Angeles Times article, the Democrat Party is actually rethinking its historically radical pro—abortion philosophy.

Meanwhile Hillary, in an attempt to distance herself from the Haight Ashbury liberalism that was her trademark throughout her eight years as 'co—president,' now sounds positively hawkish and on occasion, even 'religious.'

Republicans ought to realize that phony posturing towards the center by Democrats only serves to blur the lines and make it easier for those on the left to masquerade as conservatives. Consequently, Republicans should respond with a bold, unabashedly conservative agenda. Aside from simply being the right thing to do, this tactic will make it nearly impossible for Hillary, or any liberal Democrat, to deceive the electorate with a fraudulent conservative facade.

This is no time for Republicans to become detached from their conservative base. Any future political fortunes are critically dependant on their ability to recognize and take advantage of this chance for leadership that will otherwise remain only fleetingly in their grasp.

Political operatives on both sides of the aisle are discussing the 2008 election as if it were only days away. But this seemingly premature preoccupation is hardly a dismissal of the important issues facing President Bush in his second term. Rather, this talk of the next presidential race is representative of the pivotal changes in the political landscape that occurred last November.

Unfortunately, the forces of 'moderation' are still at work within the GOP, threatening to undermine the tremendous gains made by conservatives in the elections. Arnold Schwarzenegger contends that the Republican Party should move 'to the center' (which means to the left) on social issues.

Voices from within the RNC contemplate running a social 'moderate' as the best means of countering a potential Hillary candidacy. And political strategist Dick Morris warned against GOP senators playing hardball in response to Democrat filibusters of judicial nominees.

But although the Republican Party cannot afford to become arrogant and heavy handed in the wake of its recent victories, neither should it be fixated on gaining the approval of its political rivals, or the avoidance of controversy.

Americans voted as they did in hopes of fending off the catastrophe of a Kerry Presidency, but also because they desire the restoration of conservative and traditionally pro—American/pro—Constitutional government in Washington. So far, signs have been mixed.

President Bush remains devoted to an immigration policy that, aside from minor window dressing, amounts to 'open borders.' In the best of times, a plan of this nature can be detrimental to national cohesiveness. But, with America facing the ongoing threat of terrorist incursions, such an approach verges on the suicidal.

Fortunately the Congress, operating on a level that is much closer to the 'grassroots,' is asserting itself against the President's effort to further weaken barriers to illegal immigration. Though internal conflict isn't good for the overall unity of the party, if Congressional Republicans remain steadfast, they will avert a situation that many conservatives would regard as nothing less than betrayal.

Second only to the War on Terror in the minds of conservatives is the looming menace of judicial activism. And on this front, the President appears to be rising to the fight. Having perhaps recognized the need to abandon his 'new tone' of compromise and conciliation, he announced his intention to re—nominate twenty of his previous candidates for federal judgeships. This move constitutes a direct confrontation with filibustering Democrats.

Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democrats' new Minority Leader, claimed to be 'extremely disappointed,' and described the nominees as 'extremist.' Other prominent Democrats have similarly excoriated the President. Nevertheless, if Senate Republicans remain true to principle and play their strategy correctly, the situation could prove to be a huge 'win/win' for them.

A continuation of the Democrat filibusters, formerly spearheaded by then Minority Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota, might well place Reid, a 'red state Democrat' on the same track that led to Daschle's early retirement from public office.

Furthermore the so—called 'nuclear option,' being pondered by the Republicans as a counter to the power of the filibuster, would lower the number of votes required to end debate and allow an 'up or down' decision on nominees. This process could place an unwelcome spotlight on those Democrats who still choose to obstruct a simple majority vote, as stipulated by the Constitution.

Democrats' dismay, resulting from the country's 'red shift' during recent elections, has been made evident by some other phenomenal events of the post election period. According to a December 24 Los Angeles Times article, the Democrat Party is actually rethinking its historically radical pro—abortion philosophy.

Meanwhile Hillary, in an attempt to distance herself from the Haight Ashbury liberalism that was her trademark throughout her eight years as 'co—president,' now sounds positively hawkish and on occasion, even 'religious.'

Republicans ought to realize that phony posturing towards the center by Democrats only serves to blur the lines and make it easier for those on the left to masquerade as conservatives. Consequently, Republicans should respond with a bold, unabashedly conservative agenda. Aside from simply being the right thing to do, this tactic will make it nearly impossible for Hillary, or any liberal Democrat, to deceive the electorate with a fraudulent conservative facade.

This is no time for Republicans to become detached from their conservative base. Any future political fortunes are critically dependant on their ability to recognize and take advantage of this chance for leadership that will otherwise remain only fleetingly in their grasp.