Rank-and-file Republicans need to toss out their incompetent party leaders

There’s a lot of dreamy talk about Illinois Republican prospects for the 2010 election that will remain fantasy unless GOP voters are able to clean their old state party leadership out of the barn. Fortunately, state Senator Chris Lauzen is carrying a bill to empower them to do just that.

SB600, outlined on these pages in detail, has passed out of the Illinois Senate Elections Committee and will soon be scheduled for a floor vote. Now is the time for Illinois citizens to call their state legislators and ask them to support this important legislation.

The other day I thumbed through my copy of Mark Steyn’s fantastic book “America Alone” and several important points Steyn made jumped off the pages. While he writes about demography and foreign policy, he brilliantly touches on American domestic policy as well. The quality of all public policy, of course, hinges upon the workings of the political process.

One point Steyn made was as basic as it gets and applies to the work of trying to clean up Illinois’ corrupt and failed political culture. He noted that those who do — who act — who engage — get to shape the age we live in. The same applies to practical politics.

As I outlined in our series “GOP 101,” conservative principles haven’t advanced in this state because the party charged with that work hasn’t been getting the job done. One reason the “Grand Old Party” here has been the opposite of grand is because of lousy leadership. The other reason — too few conservatives have understood the importance of — or have been willing to do — the difficult but necessary work of party politics.

You can get philosophical. Maybe the economic success of the Ronald Reagan years, the victory in the Cold War, and the Newt Gingrich led take over of Congress, may have caused some people to think the battle of party politics was won.

Of course the battle wasn’t won back then. Continued excessive government spending, the Clinton second term, and the close election of 2000 should have disabused anyone of thinking Republicans were in the driver’s seat.

Today, we beat the party reform drum because there is a need for a political troop surge of Illinoisans who are committed to limiting government and defending traditional values.

Why do so many people fail to engage the political battle? Among the things Mark Steyn discusses in his book are the social pathologies caused by lavish social programs. He writes that those programs sever citizens from humanity’s primal instincts:

They corrode the citizen’s sense of self-reliance to a potentially fatal degree. Big government is a national security threat: it increases your vulnerability to threats…and makes it less likely you’ll be able to summon the will to rebuff it.

Political action isn’t quite foraging for food or killing wild game, but in a democracy, it’s just as important. Steyn wonders if too many folks these days are too sedated to fight the enemies of the West. In the next few years — and certainly during the Obama Administration — we’re going to see how many people are willing to step into the political fight against incompetent Republicans and the extreme political Left.

Paraphrasing Steyn, it’s easy to wonder if the torpor of the GOP derives in part from the annexation by government of most of the core functions of adulthood. There has been an infantilization of too many Americans. Too many of them like the idea of government taking care of all their needs. And they certainly don’t want to do any political work either.

The struggle is to get rank-and-file Republican voters to muster the will to do the work of citizens. Democrats have made a bet that conservatives are soft and have no political will or abilities whatsoever. Right now that still looks like a winning bet.

In a way, the struggle is like climbing over a psychological fence to get others to see just how much work is required to win in politics. Of course a bad economy and twelve year lows in the stock market might just wake up more than investors about the reality that is upon us.

Your country — your state — and your party needs your help. If you haven’t already, please join the fight.

For those of you who haven’t yet read “American Alone,” by the way, read this paragraph for an example of Mark Steyn’s use of humor as he makes a point:

[T]he only reason a ‘box-cutter can bring down a tower’ is because on September 11 our defenses against such a threat were exclusively the province of the state. If nineteen punks with box-cutters had tried to pull some stunt in the parking lot of a sports bar, they would have been beaten to a pulp.

The airline cabin, however, is the most advanced model of the modern social-democratic state, the sky-high version of the wildest dreams of big government… So on September 11 on those first three flights the cabin crews followed all those Federal Aviation Administration guidelines from the seventies. By the time the fourth plane got into trouble, the passengers knew the government wasn’t up there with them.

Steyn says that we should have learned the lesson about big government on September 11, 2001, when it — big government — “flopped big-time and the only good news of the day came from the ad hoc citizens militia of Flight 93.”

Steyn writes of his September 11th “rule of thumb”: Anything that shifts power from the individual judgment of free citizens to government is a bad thing.

There’s a power shift underway right now. Step one to regaining some of that power is to clean up our state party.