Thursday, January 25, 2007

The State of the party

The President spoke Tuesday night of the State of the Union, but what neither he nor anyone else can say is "strong" at this point is the State of the Republican Party. We are a divided lot, and unlike the Election of 2000 (when many of us were desperate to be rid of Clinton/Gore), that is unlikely to change anytime soon.

The field of 2008 Republican Presidential candidates leaves a great deal to be desired. Of the field of Republican Presidential contenders thus far, only Congressman Ron Paul, with his conservative/libertarian credentials, is a candidate that can be fairly called a real conservative. Chuck Hagel, it is true, has a lifetime 85 rating from the American Conservative Union, and I am paticularly fond of his anti-war stance (one that he shares with Ron Paul). However, I have to wonder if that stance is born out of a genuine conservative (as opposed to neoconservative) view, or if it is a result of Johnny-come latelyism. ("The war is unpopular and support for it will doom me-I'll oppose it.") Those of us who opposed the war from the beginning and who warned that this would be a disaster for both the country and the party would like to believe it is the former and not the latter. Sam Brownback's pro-life credentials are solid, but I believe he is too weak on immigration, something that is Tom Tancredo's strong suit. I do not believe Tancredo intends to run a serious campaign, merely call attention to the illegal immigration crisis. Duncan Hunter can do that just as well as Tancredo can, and with a bit less of an edge.

The party establishment is divorced from the grassroots of the party at the very root of the tree. The frontrunners are one liberal, former New York Mayor Rudolph Guiliani, and a liberal trying to suddenly become a conservative, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. With one of these candidates, the Rockefeller Republicans are trying to regain control of the party outright. John McCain is a heavyweight that could also do this to a point, but we can't pinpoint where McCain stands on much of anything aside from campaign finance reform (which party liberals love), and that is why he will do poorly in the South.

Ron Paul is the best man of the bunch, but like Pat Buchanan before him (who I supported for the GOP nomination in my first Presidential election year, 1996), the overlords whose only concern is victory at any price will sell the party to the devil to get an "electable" candidate rather than a principled one. Of the "electables," I can only stomach Hagel and Brownback, and Brownback's position on immigration would turn the crisis into a catastrophe. I would love to throw my support behind Hagel, but after his 2000 support for John McCain, I am unsure if he is trustworthy.

The Republican Party is badly fractured, and the Presidential race is only one sign of the obvious. We saw the intra-party war alive and well in Tennessee in the U.S. Senate race. The establishment got their man (or rather Jim Haslam got his man) in Bob Corker, largely because the conservative vote was split between an electable conservative with great credentials (Bryant) and an unelectable conservative with great credentials (Hilleary). Had Van Hilleary not insisted on remaining in a campaign that he was doomed to lose, Bob Corker would never have gotten the Republican nomination.

Tennessee's conflict is symptomatic of a larger war. There is a conflict within the Republican Party between the conservatives of the heart and soul and the believers in power at any price. Those who are members of the latter faction believe that they can drag conservatives along and take us for granted. If the conservative movement is to survive, we cannot allow them to do this anymore.

Mark 8:36:

For what shall it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and suffer the loss of his soul?

The fight is for the soul of the Republican Party itself.

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At Thursday, January 25, 2007 7:19:00 PM, Blogger Charlie said...

Hagel is no neoconservative. He is a classical conservative realist, in the tradition of Kissinger and the previous President Bush (41). He has been expressing his concern over the war since 2002 (before the invasion). He's a true conservative on both domestic and foreign policy.

At Thursday, January 25, 2007 11:12:00 PM, Blogger Conservatore dall'est said...

Very nicely written David. Top drawer!


At Thursday, January 25, 2007 11:20:00 PM, Blogger Dave Oatney said...

If you want me to support Hagel, associating him with Bush 41 probably isn't wise.

At Thursday, January 25, 2007 11:21:00 PM, Blogger Dave Oatney said...

That kind of compliment from you is like gold! Many thanks!

At Friday, January 26, 2007 6:54:00 AM, Blogger Sharon Cobb said...

I agree with Vance. Good piece. Part of the problem for both parties is the South vs the rest of the country. Even the democrats are looking at passing on the South with a new book out called "Whislin Past Dixie."
Both parties have mapped out a way to win without the South(minus FLorida, where most of its occupants are not originally from the South)
Here our democrats are conservative, and our conservatives are the right wing of the conservative party.
Outside of Tennessee and Georgia and other Southern states, Rudy is a good candidate for your side and Obama is a good candidate for my side.
Sam Brownback (whom I personally like for his work with AIDS in Africa and his trips to Darfur) has no chance of playing well in the big electorial states like California, or NY or Florida or Ohio.
So why would your party want him for a candidate?
Conversely, Obama probably won't play well in the South. Still, he'll do well in the states I mentioned, so he's an attractive candidate for us.
Either way, both parties are looking at writing off the South completely.
What do you think?

At Friday, January 26, 2007 7:58:00 AM, Blogger Sharon Cobb said...

I forgot to mention one potential candidate for your side who doesn't suck and is 100 percent pro life and a Christian minister, and that is Mike Huckabee.
For over 12 years he was an effective Governor (Arkansas) while over 80 percent of the legislators were Democrats.
He's the first pro life candidate who has a plan for a child once it is out of the womb, which has been a big point of contention with pro choice people who are more flexible.
He is pro environment, and would work with Al Gore if needed on this one issue.
Health care is another issue he looks at differently than some republicans.
Yet he doesn't waiver in his core beliefs as a conservative Christian.
He hasn't announced yet, but I think when he does you will find he is someone you and other conservatives can get excited about and, he actually has a decent chance--once people get to know him in debates. Mark my words on this.


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