GOP Doomed if Establishment Prevails

The battle lines are being drawn. The fight for the GOP is on. The seemingly eternal struggle between the right and the Republican establishment has entered its newest phase. In the wake of Mitt Romney being end-run by Barack Obama, GOP get-alongs want to double-down on failure. Moderation -- the odor of it -- is in DC's air like cheap, fetid perfume.

But the fight between grassroots conservatives and the get-alongs is different this time -- very different. The eternal struggle may prove not to be eternal, after all. If grassroots conservatives fail to take control of the Republican Party, establishmentarians may find that the GOP has become a rump; not much more than the rightwing of the leftwing Democratic Party. Grassroots conservatives will bolt, and with compelling cause.

The newest GOP civil war is more than Bob Taft versus Ike; more than Goldwater versus Rockefeller; more than Dutch Reagan versus Jerry Ford. Statism is nearing existential crisis, and so, as a result, is the good ol U.S.A.

The American left got the memo back in the 90s about the collapse of communism but chose to disregard it. That memo landed in circular files throughout academia, the media, in Hollywood, and among Democrats everywhere. Fervid belief trumped the stark object lesson that was the Soviet Union: statism doesn't work, particularly when taken to its logical extreme.

But, protest American lefties: "We don't embrace communism. We're progressives in the American tradition, or, if you must, social democrats, like our Western European cousins. We want a mixed economy with a decidedly stronger role for government. We want a stronger social safety net with universal... everything. We want a progressive culture shorn of traditional America's exclusions for gays in marriage. Sex isn't bad if contraception is free and easily accessible. Women need the right to abortion without exception. People need to be governed in their diets (Michelle says so). Children need to be educated from grade school through college in the radically New American Society, which is about tolerance and inclusion -- except for the faithful, the traditional, and the producers."

Evidently the American left hasn't read the memo about Western Europe (or Europe in its entirety, for that matter). You know, the memo that's being updated daily, grimly.

Europe's elites are cooking the books, shuffling paper assets first here and then there to forestall economic and governmental collapses. The give-me masses in Greece, Spain, and Italy are in full-throated protest and riot. You see, social democratic statism doesn't work much better than its more extreme variant: communism. It just takes a little longer to fail.

And fail Europe is doing -- slowly now, but with rapidity in the not-distant future. Leftism will fail here in America, too; it's just a question of how soon. When does the eighty-plus year experiment in industrial-age, highly centralized industrial-style government crash? Because it will crash. Let's take bets when.

The point being: why would establishment Republicans want to move left (to the center, in their vernacular) precisely at the time when the America created by Woodrow Wilson and FDR is faltering -- groaning under its own enormous weight and falsity? Because polling and focus groups tell the GOP to do so? Because a bare majority of voters are able to be bought off by a political party that never outgrew Tammany Hall or the Pendergast Machine? Or because portions of President Obama's majority coalition persists in the delusion that the nation's troubles are exaggerated? We've seen the woeful result of willful denial throughout human history. Or per the late Scott Peck, when someone isn't willing to go the road less traveled, the easier road taken (at the moment) invariably leads to greater problems and acute pain later.

Republicans, for the sake of short-sighted gain, are tempted to accommodate, in part, approaches (illegal immigration, for one) and policies that are leading the nation to profoundly troubled times. It's at this very point in history that the GOP needs to provide voters with a principled contrast to the Democrats, articulating a vision (yes, vision counts), remedies, and plans that stand in stark contrast to the hardening leftism, cronyism, and corruption that Democrats are serving up.

Conservatives must insist that the GOP be a bold party -- a party more than "old and grand," but grand in what it establishes as its aim for the nation. That aim needs to be high and genuinely grand. Conservatives should call for an American renaissance grounded on founding principles, dedicated to limited, localized government and committed to individual development, opportunity, and excellence. The American Renaissance Initiative should be proclaimed from mountaintops to barrios; from inner-city Detroit to the affluent suburbs of Philadelphia. Proclaimed confidently, cheerful -- without excuses or qualifications.

Would an American Renaissance Initiative be the formula for immediate political gain? Not likely. Realities haven't ripened; a majority of voters' perceptions are lagging. Short term, it may prove that sharp contrasts with the Democrats favor them electorally.

But when failure comes to the nation -- obvious, grievous failure -- the Republican Party will have established clear-cut alternatives to the sickness-inducing ideology of the left. The GOP will have provided remedies and roadmaps out of the nation's troubles and to better, brighter days. And not incidentally, the GOP's American Renaissance Initiative needs to include cultural and societal revitalization. There's a greater hunger for basic traditional values among Americans than many on the right may suspect. Many Americans, steeped in the ways of "progressive" culture have that hunger, but don't know how to satisfy it. The GOP must show the way; the party must show that the link between a nation's culture and society and governance are inextricable. Government can't be virtuous if its culture and society are debauched.

Conservatives can't count on the Republican establishment to have the boldness to push for an American renaissance. Establishment Republicans have too much invested in the "game," and that includes livelihoods, careers, and stature. The push for conservatives is to assume full control of the GOP; the party's infrastructure is valuable and laws in the states are biased toward the two-party system. But if conservatives aren't successful in taking the GOP from the get-alongs, then it's time to part company. An establishment-run GOP will be nothing more than a listing ship tethered to the Democrats' ship steaming off to disaster.

Like Martin Luther, conservatives' first step is to nail their equivalent of the 95 Theses to the door of the Republican National Committee -- and then to the door of the White House... and then to the doors of colleges and universities and to every mainstream media outlet around.

The time has come for conservatives to proclaim, confidently, truthfully, and fearlessly. Dire times call to conservatives to do so; it falls to conservatives to be the instigators of a great American renaissance.

If not conservatives, then who?  

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