Speaker of the House John Boehner (R, OH) is now joining the growing chorus of…Republicans…who are begging for surrender on the economy: he’s offering tax rate increases, albeit on Americans with more than $1 million of annual income. This will be an abject failure: President Barak Obama, standing tall with the Republicans now on their knees in front of him, has no need of accepting this. In fact, he has an excellent chance of succeeding with a gambit that seemingly failed in the debt ceiling negotiations of 2011, when he made a last minute demand for even more taxes: with Republicans now begging for mercy, he can, at this late hour, add to his demands—yet more taxes beyond the $1.6 trillion he’s currently demanding (the offered reduction to $1.4 trillion was never serious).
Given this abject failure, should we walk away from the Republican Party and form a third national party, one more honest and courageous and better rooted in the principles of conservatism—the 18th Century Liberal principles on which our nation was founded and which underlie our prosperity and power?
I’m of two minds on this. On the one hand, with the Republican Party as currently constituted now empirically in shambles and a failure, we need a national party capable of retrieving our nation from the nearby disaster of Europe-like social and political failure, and from the disaster waiting to be imposed politically and militarily later by our enemies.
The Tea Partiers have the national reach, but remain politically naïve. They are, however, learning. Forming a new national party would represent a strategic retreat for the principles of individual liberty and responsibility and of the small, limited government that is the only thing that can help preserve these. However, sometimes retreat is necessary in order to be able to reengage from a position of greater strength.
On the other hand, the infrastructure of an existing national party is no mean thing. The primary things wrong with the Republican Party are the RINOs in positions of leadership, who are too willing to sacrifice principle for political expediency however well intended the sacrifice, and their utter inability to make their case in the practical terms of interest to their constituents—and to their neighboring Progressives’ constituents.
The Tea Partiers have made great inroads in the last few years in inserting greater conservatism into the GOP, along with inserting people who will actually hew the GOP to those principles. Their success was demonstrated in 2010, and confirmed in 2012, other than at the Presidential level. Their success was both confirmed and expanded down-ticket in the state houses in those 2012 elections.
The Tea Partiers, though, whether in a new national party or through further recovery of the Republican Party, will need to communicate, also. It isn’t sufficient to make tempestuous—or mild—speeches on the floor of an empty House or Senate and hope the Progressives’ news outlets will give it coverage. Nor are digital media, important though they are, sufficient. The new or recovered party needs to get out among the people—in their neighborhoods, their community centers, their diners, their living rooms, and in those of their Progressive constituents’—and explain in practical terms the values of conservative principles. For this, the Professional Communicators of the GOP need not apply. They’ve shown their level of competence already.
And the leaders, and membership, of this new or revised national party must understand that this is a struggle for our nation’s soul. There will be conflict. There will be demands for compromise of principles. But they must also understand that if a man has no principles for which he’ll sacrifice, he has no principles. That means that, sometimes, we have actually to sacrifice, not just bleat. The present crop of Republican leadership seem to have lost sight of that last, critical part. And it’s been fatal.