Only in the Republican Party is guileless capitulation a stepping stone for success.
If John Boehner were transformed into a cheetah and transported to an endless African savanna — a flat one, stuffed to the horizon with antelope, warthogs, rabbits and three-legged gazelle — he would find a way to starve. Or get eaten.
But Boehner — as enduringly impotent and wholly unaccomplished as his speakership has been — isn’t our biggest problem. Our biggest problem is that we still think we’re the establishment. We’re not.
For most of American history, Republicans were the establishment, the adults in the room who made allowance for the cranky, spoiled Democratic children who always demanded more no matter how large their allowances grew. But that’s over. It’s actually been over for a while, but the inertia of our losing routine kept many Republicans too busy to notice.
Crazed leftists have been steering the nation leftward for generations. How?
In every spending negotiation, Democrats ask for the stars and settle for the moon. Their opening bid is ludicrous, and after fussing over Republican selfishness, they eventually settle for an amount that is merely absurd. And Republicans? At the start of negotiations, we beg for the status quo (which is already ruinous) and then find the nearest barrel and throw ourselves over it. Republicans always — always! — negotiate on Democratic terms.
Most recently, Obama asked for $1.6 trillion in new revenue and for the authority to raise the debt ceiling without consulting Congress. There isn’t a superlative of “ridiculous” adequate to encapsulate that request. It’s probably the most outrageous thing anyone has ever said, written or thought anywhere, ever. It could only have been more preposterous if Obama had also asked for a crown.
After burning through $6 trillion in four years — more than every previous president’s total expenditures and, miraculously, without boosting the economy, building, fixing or buying anything other than votes — Obama didn’t merely request an obscene new bankroll. He also had the gall to ask the Republicans to agree to set fire to the Constitution by abdicating their principle duty of minding the federal purse strings.
John Boehner responded the way establishment Republicans always have. He stated that the requests were unacceptable, and essentially set the table for Obama to come back with a slightly less outrageous offer. It’s suicidal, but, hey, it’s a GOP tradition.
Conservatism may be the bedrock of America, but it is no longer our governing philosophy. We need to accept that. Leftist radicals were once behind the scenes. Today, they are openly running the show. We need to embrace the observable fact that liberals have been driving the American agenda for decades, and that they are now the new establishment.
As stunning and horrifying as that notion is, it’s actually good news for conservatism. The right needs a paradigm shift.
For as long as anyone can remember, the Democrats have labeled Republicans as callous, selfish and greedy. They insist that Republicans don’t care about the sick and the elderly and the children and polar bears, dolphins, etc. The Republican defense usually extolled the virtues of free market solutions regarding whatever the accusation concerned. Doesn’t matter. The defense didn’t work.
Republicans must learn from their opponents. They must go on offense. They must turn the tables on the Democrats. Accuse them of robbing America’s grandchildren. Obama wants to debate in public? Fine. With every new program Obama proposes, Republican leaders need to head to elementary schools, surround themselves with children and ask the president, “Why are you stealing from these poor kids?”
Let’s see how that works out. Americans love their country and their children more than they hate the rich.
Republicans haven’t won in the past because they haven’t tried. For years now, they’ve allowed President Obama to demonize the rich. Every subject boils down to rich vs. poor. That isn’t reality! That is the direct result of Republicans believing that they are still the establishment. They cannot be reactive. They always lose on defense. To win, they must be aggressive. They must frame every debate as a battle for America’s future. Every single discussion should begin with America’s children and end with America’s children.
Freeze it. Personalize it. Polarize it.
The beautiful thing about Saul Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals” is that the rules work both ways. Alinsky admitted as much. Republicans must make the notion of new government spending treacherous. By equating new spending with breaking piggy banks and mugging America’s children, Republicans could make Barack Obama afraid to mention the word “investment.” When budgets and debt ceilings and spending negotiations begin, the only question our leaders should entertain is, “How much are we going to cut?”
In the past, Republicans failed to limit the growth of government because they didn’t know how to argue. They lost by increment for decades and stood idle while the culture changed around them. Today, by circumstance, the GOP is anti-establishment. Now Republicans must learn how to be anti-establishment. They cannot be reactive. They have no more ground to cede. They must gain ground and take scalps. They must set the terms of the debate. They must agitate. They must learn to stick it to the man. Hopefully, they’ve learned something by watching President Obama for four years.
(Yates Walker is a conservative activist and writer. Before becoming involved in politics, he served honorably as a paratrooper and a medic in the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)