Newly-minted Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell will be presenting the "Republican response" to President Obama's State of the Union address Wednesday evening. Given McDonnell's victory in Virginia, Chris Christie's upset win in New Jersey, and especially Scott Brown's stunning triumph in Massachusetts, it is absolutely critical that McDonnell capture the optimism, energy, and momentum these victories have generated by sending exactly the right message.
I hope Governor McDonnell hears me on this.
The reason Republicans are having such stunning success is because Republicans are currently the only viable alternative to the willfully destructive policies of the radical leftist Democrats currently in charge. As an economist and researcher of radical movements for twenty-five years, I can speak with authority on this subject. I know this by the enormous mass of evidence available. My writings are but the tip of the iceberg.
Many U.S. citizens, however, now recognize the same thing, and they are responding with justifiable alarm. Therein lies the reason for the Tea Party movement's explosive growth. Therein lies the reason why people are taking precious time away from work and families, attending evening-long meetings, showing up at rallies, and pouring energy into upstart campaigns. Therein lies the reason why middle-aged people who never carried a sign in their lives are showing up -- I've seen 'em even in wheelchairs and on oxygen -- to express their outrage.
Bob McDonnell is a genuine conservative, but while his gubernatorial campaign perhaps focused on the issues he knew were of critical importance to Virginia voters, this Wednesday, he will be speaking for the entire Republican Party and all other citizens alarmed by the radical Democrat agenda. In other words, he is going to be speaking for America.
The GOP now realizes that recapturing both Houses for Republicans in November 2010 is within reach. But it will remain so only if Republicans offer a convincing alternative to the Democrats that addresses the overwhelming anxiety driving grassroots activism and also puts our country firmly back on course to a sane, prosperous, secure, and constitutional republic.
Thus, this cannot be a message of conciliation.
It must be a message of truth. Republican efforts at "bipartisanship" have repeatedly been met with disingenuous offers, backroom dealings, slammed doors, public ridicule, and blatant violation of longstanding parliamentary rules. Those with long memories know that Democrats have been playing this game for decades. The Democrat game plan is No Compromise -- because what they really want is inimical to everything this country stands for.
As the chosen standard-bearer for the Republican Party, Governor McDonnell must state firmly that Republicans don't intend to compromise in a process which merely allows Democrats to continue along their destructive path, only now with bipartisan support.
He must state firmly that Republicans do not intend to assist the Democrats while they ruin the economy, bankrupt government, destroy our health care system, and continue pitting us one against the other in a divide-and-conquer strategy that is Balkanizing our nation.
If anything has been learned from the explosive growth of the Tea Party movement and similar organizations, it is that people everywhere -- Republican, Democrat, and Independent -- are horrified at what Obama and the congressional Democrats are doing. But the Democrats just forge on ahead, calling Republicans who try to stop them the "Party of No."
Governor McDonnell needs to clarify the GOP message, and it should be this:
We are not the Party of No. We are the Party of No Way!
No Way we'll let you ruin our economy!
No Way we'll let you compromise our national security!
No Way we'll let you destroy our health care!
No Way we'll let you bankrupt our government!
No Way we'll let you steal our country!
The governor should acknowledge that Republicans lost their way for a while. Admit it. But now the scales have fallen from your eyes. This administration's and Congress's attempt to steamroll their destructive, radical agenda across this land has shaken the GOP out of its lethargy. The vision is crystal clear:
- Republicans are the party of limited government and free markets.
- Republicans are the party of liberty.
- Republicans are the party of principle.
- Republicans are the party of all the people.
- And this is because Republicans are the party of the United States Constitution.
These are the only principles that can guarantee -- to the extent anything can be guaranteed -- life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And they have a 235-year track record of unmatched success in making the United States that "shining city on a hill." It may yet remain so...
Republicans want to give back to the People what is theirs by right. Democrats use divisive rhetoric, intimidation tactics, misinformation, and lies to extract ever more wealth from an ever-shrinking pool of hardworking individuals.
To those elected Democrats who have their own epiphany and choose to shed their despotic impulses, the GOP should say, "Come along with us on the road to restoration of our Republic. We will welcome you with open arms."
If, however, they continue to insist on budget-busting, economy-wrecking, national security-threatening, divisive public policies, then the GOP needs to publicly pledge to fight them with every fiber of their beings.
That is the message the GOP needs to convey. I am sure the governor can put it in better words than I, but he should make no mistake: A lot is riding on this speech, and We the People will be listening.
If Republicans intend to ride the crest of the grassroots tsunami, their message to the Democrats must be unambiguous: NO WAY!
We haven't yet won. We have only made them blink. What we've accomplished so far will mean nothing if we don't catch this tidal wave of enthusiasm and ride it to decisive victory in November.
We in the grassroots have expectations, and for once they must be met. We have suffered enormous loss from Republicans who have repeatedly let us down. For years we have invested our time, our finances, and our hopes, and we are not willing to be let down again.
I pray that Governor McDonnell and the Republicans take this message to heart. Our nation -- indeed, the free world -- depends on it.
Businessman and columnist Jim Simpson is a former White House staff economist and budget analyst.