GOP 101: Defending and promoting the party platform

I agree with the goal to make the Republican Party a “big tent.” Of course we define the term properly, whereas others completely misunderstand the meaning of the phrase as well as the purpose of a political party.

The goal for the Grand Old Party should be to attract conservatives of all stripes, plus moderates, and even wavering liberals who will support as many of the party’s planks as possible. If the goal is reached, so many people would join that a large tent would be required.

Those who want to ignore the platform use the phrase to mean that it doesn’t matter what you believe – they want you to be a Republican. You like big government? Join us. Government monopoly unions? C’mon in. Abortion on demand? So-called “homosexual rights” (and other behavior anomalies)? We’ll stretch that tent fabric.

Please. If you’re truly committed to those governmental solutions and radical social policies, you might want to read the Democratic Party platform. GOP Platform defenders are certain you’re going to feel a lot more comfortable at the local Jefferson-Jackson dinner than at the Lincoln-Reagan dinner.

As most people who’ve read the platform know, Republicans believe entrepreneurs are superior to government bureaucrats. Republicans believe that “socialism is when a majority votes to be slaves.”

Republicans realize that we’re up against decades of social corrosion caused by a nanny state. Republicans aren’t embarrassed to stand up for the unborn. Republicans understand that human behavior is problematic and one of the best ways to discourage ill-advised behavior in a civilized society is to discriminate against it.

So where was the national party while our Republican president and Republican led U.S. Congress went leftward fiscally during the years 2001-2006? Why didn’t the party enforce discipline and adherence to its principles?

The fact is there hasn’t really been enough of a party structure to enforce anything. While many good and smart citizens can be found within the ranks of the party, good and smart people can also be the proverbial ninety-pound weakling.

After the last two election cycles nationally the mood among many Republicans is beginning to change. For two and a half years there has been a healthy dialogue in the party about the need for it to return to its fiscal and traditional morality roots.

Recent behavior on Capitol Hill in Washington is encouraging. News last week was that members of the GOP in Pennsylvania are preparing to punish Senator Arlen Spector for his supporting of the fat-laden “porkulus” Obama-Reid-Pelosi spending bill. Other examples are scattered through the headlines as well.

In Illinois, of course, certain Republican leaders would prefer that we occasionally drop the label “Republican.” No big surprise there. Others – like state party chairman Andy McKenna – talk in terms of the meaningless-all-viewpoints-welcome big tent.

Last December in an article titled “RNC draft rips Bush’s bailouts,” the Washington Times reported that there were rumblings at the Republican National Committee.

For those of us who have watched in pain how Republicans in D.C. were spending since 2002-2003, headlines like that are a welcome site.

I realize (as a one time RNC staffer) that it is traditional for the RNC to submit to the leadership of a Republican President. But when the president is off the rails – or the congressional leadership is acting like Democrats – the party, which belongs to all rank and file GOP voters committed to a set of principles – should retain the power to revolt.

That Washington Times article included these two paragraphs:

“In what would amount to a slap in the face to a sitting Republican president and the party’s Senate and House leaders, national GOP officials, including the vice chairman of the Republican National Committee, are sponsoring a resolution opposing the resort to “socialist” means to save capitalism.

‘We can’t be a party of small government, free markets and low taxes while supporting bailouts and nationalizing industries, which lead to big government, socialism and high taxes at the expense of individual liberty and freedoms,’ said Solomon Yue, a cosponsor of a resolution that would put the RNC — the party’s national governing body — on the record as opposing the U.S. government bailouts of the financial and auto industries.”

It’s not a wild guess to think the GOP would be in much better shape today had our party enforced spending discipline upon those politicians about seven years ago.

Conventional wisdom has it that the party’s platform written every four years at its national convention is a document to be ignored. I would suggest that that conventional wisdom gave us Obama-Reid-Pelosi.

Also in that article is this quote by Arizona GOP Chairman Randy Pullen:

“It is now time for the RNC to assert itself in terms of ideas and political philosophy. If we don’t do it now, when will we?”

Amen to that.

Up next: Local leadership is needed.

©2009 John Francis Biver