NY23 and the need to “retake the Republican Party”

On Tuesday I referenced the New York 23rd Congressional District race, a campaign that has highlighted the widespread confusion about the role of the Republican Party. Today, a few more comments are in order.

Some people want to support the liberal GOP candidate in that race because of the decisions made by some party leaders at the local level. Decisions made by local party leaders can’t change the purpose of the party – which is to advance a principle based policy agenda. Local party leaders are famous for getting that wrong. Local party leaders like to win elections by playing the role of king-maker. They often could care less about policy reform or good government.

If that sounds harsh, too bad. Veterans of the Illinois GOP political scene are well aware of how the Party “brand” and the Party’s resources are often used against the interests of those supporting the Party’s Platform at the state and local level.

There are a number of reasons why this happens. Sometimes the local players have personal or financial interests that deviate from Republican Party principles. Sometimes people are just uninformed about history and are thus doomed to repeat the political mistakes of the past.

Again, the local party bosses can try, but they cannot alter the true purpose of the party. It’s supposed to be about the platform principles, not about selfish personal ambition.

Part of the reason the Illinois GOP continues to be an abject failure is because of the help of big name players from outside of Illinois failing to do their homework. They come into town and act is if those who hold power in our party are in it for the right reason and should be given due respect.

A rather dramatic parallel would be to go back in time to the early 1980s and haveRonald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, and Pope John Paul II work with Polish Prime Minister Wojciech Jaruzelski rather than that outsider Lech Wałęsa.

Corruption is corruption, so that’s not stretching it. It’s why the GOP is in the shape it’s in today. People aren’t thinking through the consequences of the actions of many party leaders. Accountability to core principles is set aside, “local control” stands above all. Again, the local feudal political lords aren’t always on the side of the angels.

Why is all this important? What does it matter? The Republican Party needs to be in the policy evangelism business. Too many people think there are “moderate” solutions to our nation’s fiscal mess – to pick just one issue. The reality of the current level of government debt means that anyone who is campaigning as a “moderate” is a fiscal fraud.

Thankfully, more voters are realizing that the times demand a shift – the old party politics have produced the mess we’re in. It’s not supposed to be about getting wishy-washy ineffectual people elected. We need fighters – reformers – candidates and office holders who are willing to succeed, not just talk.

The party is important because getting elected is only the first part of the task at hand. To accomplish something once in office is the necessary second part. That second part requires even more organizational and political support than the first.

The last Republican president and congressional majority failed more than they succeeded when it came to domestic policy. Luigi Zingales wrote this week in the City Journal that Ronald Reagan’s platform was betrayed by recent power-holding Republicans. Zingales asks two good questions and then in thirteen words sums up today’s circumstances well (emphasis is mine).

How can Republicans effectively campaign against big government when the size of government increased by 33 percent during President George W. Bush’s first term, the largest increase in federal spending since Lyndon B. Johnson? How can Republicans portray themselves as free-market paladins when Bush’s last secretary of the Treasury, Henry Paulson, orchestrated the most massive state intervention in a Western economy since François Mitterrand’s nationalization of the French banking system? The party has much to do before it regains credibility on this score.

Supporting social and fiscal liberals as pretend Republicans – like what’s happening in New York 23 – doesn’t exactly win the hearts and minds of the TEA Party types or independents and it sure doesn’t hold the base.

Rush Limbaugh, weighing in on that Congressional race said this the other day:

People are looking at this saying, ‘Rush, we need third party, Doug Hoffman’s proving it.’ No, we don’t. We need to retake the Republican Party. That’s what has to happen. The liberals didn’t go out and form a third party, they just took over the Democrat Party and we need to take over the Republican Party. The third party’s a guaranteed loss, no two ways about it.

I couldn’t agree more.