Surrender is not a strategy: What the GOP needs is principled leadership

Jeffrey T. Kuhner

The long knives are out. Liberal and some neoconservative pundits are claiming the Republicans lost the 2012 presidential election for one basic reason: They have become the party of yesterday’s America. The GOP is supposedly too old, too white and too male; it allegedly appeals to a shrinking fragment of the electorate. The argument is that, unless the GOP changes its appeal and policies, it is destined to shrivel into a regional, rump party — strong in the South and the prairies, weak everywhere else. Hence, liberal Democrats and establishment Republicans are urging the GOP to be more inclusive of single women, minorities, Hispanics and homosexuals.

They want Republicans to become pro-gay, pro-amnesty, pro-environment and pro-choice. In short, the conventional wisdom can be distilled to one simple point: To win national elections again, the GOP must be transformed into a softer, more centrist version of the Democrats. Call it Democratic lite.

Holding his daughter Caroline, U.S. Senate candidate Ted Cruz and and his wife, Heidi, holding their daughter, Catherine, appear before a cheering crowd. / Johnny Hanson / Houston Chronicle

One of the key pundits leading this charge is neocon columnist David Frum. The former George W. Bush speechwriter in his article, “How the Republicans got stuck in the past,” in the Nov. 19 issue of Newsweek, argues that GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney was defeated because he embodied an out-of-date 1980s America. According to Mr. Frum, the Republicans deserved to lose; mired in supply-side economics and social conservatism, the party has become dangerously disconnected from the realities of modern America.

Moreover, Mr. Frum says that the right is too obsessed with bashing President Obama. The Newsweek writer believes that too many conservatives have descended into the fever swamps of hate and liberal demonization. He stresses the result is a party that is angry, divisive and off-putting — one unable to attract enough minority, independent and swing voters needed to win back the White House. Mr. Frum’s advice to the GOP is adapt to surging liberal forces or be swept into the dustbin of history.

“To be a patriot is to love your country as it is,” he writes. “Those who seem to despise half of America will never be trusted to govern any of it. Those who cherish only the country’s past will not be entrusted with its future.”

Mr. Frum is not just wrong. He is peddling inside-the-Beltway nonsense. There is nothing conservative about his argument. Instead, it is a white flag of surrender masquerading as political strategy.

According to his logic, a Russian patriot — say, novelist and dissident Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn — should have “loved” communist Russia and embraced it as it was. America’s liberal regime is slowly sapping our wealth and moral vitality. We are in decline. Mr. Frum’s answer, however, is not resistance but craven appeasement.

A true patriot — as opposed to a shallow opportunist — does more than simply “love” his nation, abandoning principles in pursuit of power; rather, he is obligated to speak out against and oppose destructive policies. Moreover, patriots — and especially, conservatives — are duty bound to “cherish” the past. What is America if not a constitutional republic founded upon Christian and English civilization? To not honor our past is to deny the very meaning of America’s founding. We were not designed to be a secular socialist empire. This is not tilting at windmills; it is historical fact.

For decades, modern liberalism has waged a war against our Judeo-Christian heritage and free-enterprise system. The results have been disastrous: over 50 million unborn babies slaughtered through legalized abortions, the breakdown of the traditional family, skyrocketing illegitimacy rates, a permissive and vulgar popular culture, trillion-dollar deficits, a runaway $16 trillion national debt that threatens our very solvency, a porous southern border that has enabled over 12 million illegal aliens to invade our homeland, and the creation of a government leviathan our Founding Fathers would find repulsive and tyrannical. Yet, when conservatives demand that America’s cultural disintegration and economic decline be reversed, according to the likes of Mr. Frum, it is they — and not the progressive left — who are divisive and polarizing.

Mr. Obama won waging one of the nastiest, meanest campaigns in recent memory. He exhorted his followers to “exact revenge” upon Republicans. Vice President Joe Biden vowed that, should Mr. Romney be elected, the GOP would put blacks “back in chains.” The entire Democratic strategy for the past four years has been to tear the country in half, and grab the larger chunk for itself. Mr. Obama has forged a narrow majority coalition of blacks, Latinos, feminists, unions, students and environmentalists. He has erected a nanny state dedicated to plundering the productive middle class, redistributing their wealth to reward and bribe his constituents. The socialist formula has worked — for now.

The job of Republicans is not to mimic the Obama Democrats. When it comes to promoting sexual license, crass identity politics and big government spending, the GOP can — and will — never outdo the Democrats. Voters will always prefer the real thing. Instead, conservatives should act as the adults; liberals are the adolescents. When the Ponzi scheme, known as welfare liberalism, comes crashing down — and it is now only a matter of time — the right needs to be there to clean up the mess.

The Obama economy is destined to crash upon the rocks of fiscal reality. Conservatives need to bide their time. The 2014 midterms are around the corner. Small-government conservatism will be back. This is not because it’s fashionable. Rather, it is the only road to economic recovery and cultural renewal. Sell-outs, such as Mr. Frum, are a dime a dozen. Now is the time for principled leadership, not pathetic handwringing.

Jeffrey T. Kuhner is a columnist at The Washington Times and host of “The Kuhner Report” on AM-680 WRKO (www.wrko.com) from 6-9 am and 11 am-noon EST in Boston.

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