Among conservatives, the GOP is often referred to as the "Stupid Party" for its tonedeaf, ham-handed, wrong-footed management of key issues like taxes and government spending. With the Senate's passage of government-run health care legislation, Democrats are making their bid to replace the GOP as not just the Stupid Party, but the stupidest party since the Whigs owned the title in the first half of the 19th century.
But conservatives need to insist that the GOP press its opposition to big-government health care right through the 2010 elections. Think it's unnecessary to insist? Think again. Moderate Republicans have very little shark in them. In other words, while they may smell blood in the water, they're apt not to go in for the kill.
Over the past months, Democrats have committed some egregious acts, including flagrant disregard of public opinion, front-loading higher taxes, and stripping Medicare of funding to the tune of approximately $400 billon. These elements combined with their mammoth assault on the nation's health care system means the political ocean is red with Democrats' blood. It should prompt a Republican feeding frenzy. But don't expect it for long unless Republicans are relentlessly prodded.
The sneaking suspicion is that Good Government Republicans like Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins, Lindsey Graham, and yes, John McCain will make their peace with the Democrats' Monster once it is reconciled in conference committee and receives final passage. The argument will go that with government-run health care a done deal, Republicans have a duty to be constructive, to dedicate themselves to making the legislation better through amendments and whatever other tweaks and nudges will "improve" the measure.
This approach has been standard procedure for "squishy" Republicans' since Wendell Willkie and Tom Dewey in the 1940s. Inside every Republican moderate beats the heart not of a warrior, but a bureaucrat who wishes to refine and manage programs. When liberal Democrats say "Jump," gray-flannel-suited Republicans reflexively ask "How high?"
In 2010, Americans need Republicans to be warriors for freedom, moderates be damned -- or at least pushed aside. The Democrats are playing a high-stakes game of poker. The pot isn't just a takeover of the nation's health care system; it's a fundamental change of the government's relationship with the people. It's the socialization and Europeanization of America, with a concomitant loss of liberties and a restructuring of the nation's economy profound enough to strip its dynamism (see Europe's socialist economies).
Republican leaders Mitch McConnell and John Boehner need to crack the whip with any members of their caucuses who waver in a fight to repeal. GOP chief Michael Steele needs to put some steel in the party's backbone, as well as in the backbones of candidates he identifies as wobbly. Repeal message points need to issue from the Republican National Committee, National Republican Congressional Committee, and Senate Republican Committee like manna.
What Republicans need to grasp is that Monday morning's vote wasn't the act of a confident Democratic Party with the strong wind of public approval at its back. It's the action of a party that has had to resort to a legislative coup d'état to achieve landmark legislation.
If 2009 hasn't taught Republicans anything else, it should at least show that liberalism is a spent force, philosophically speaking. The left, here and abroad, lost the titanic struggle for people's hearts and minds in the 20th century. What remains for liberals and their socialist brethren in Copenhagen and elsewhere to achieve their ends is the dissemination of lies, hectoring, and bullying. What hides under the left's finely tailored pant legs are spit-polished jackboots.
Without effective counter, these Italian-suited jackboots will resort more and more to ramming measures down the throats of objecting Americans. They'll further and more boldly "reinterpret" the Constitution to permit a greater encroachment on and constriction of liberty. If liberals triumph, America might as well change its name to the "United Statism of America."
Conservatives and tea party Americans know better. The nation faces not only a struggle over a seminal piece of legislation, but a seminal struggle over the future of American liberty. Health care is one battlefront, albeit a great one, in that struggle. The fight is for the nation's heart and soul, and today's conservatives have been charged with carrying the arms. Count that as a blessing, not a curse.
It falls to conservatives and all Americans who love liberty to rededicate the United States on the principles of the founding. It's not good enough anymore to slow or contain the growth of the national government. It's not enough to blunt intrusions into our lives and enterprises by insatiable liberals. It's now imperative that the state be reclaimed and returned to its proper, limited role. Ours is supposed to be a government by, for, and of the people. It must fully be so once again.
The Republican establishment and party compromisers have a choice to make: Be the vehicle for reclaiming freedom, or understand that conservatives and independents will find or create another vehicle for doing so. Here's hoping that the GOP won't be stupid ever again.