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What Conservatives Stand For

Thursday morning’s Wall Street Journal featured an opinion piece from Karl Rove titled “The GOP Must Stand for Something [1]“.  The piece is well focused on the most critical battleground we face this year: Congressional seats.

In the midst of watching the melee within the Democratic Party, the scant attacks by the MSM against McCain, and the vain attempts by Ron Paul and others to disrupt the Presidential Election process, largely unfocused are we yet on the 35 Senate seats (23 currently held by Republicans) and the length and width of the House of Representatives whom we will be voting for this November.

My angst over the lack of attention to the branch of government that actually makes law in this country grows each day.  We need to ensure this branch breathes truth, integrity (sadly lacking in both parties), and clearly understands the need for long-term thinking.  Those that try to create the quick fixes are not worth paying attention to.  Those that are thinking about how to build sustainable programs and infrastructure, how to provide for the needs of our citizens in a way that leads them to self-sufficiency, those who have learned to lead (doing what’s right) while listening to their constituents, to do what’s best for the country and not their re-electability, to help Americans be prosperous without burdening them with worthless taxes, they we need to promote to election.

But it’s not, as Rove says, going to be easy.  We cannot assume there are any GOP districts are “safe” seats, and we cannot use the worn political weapons to coerce the electorate into taking our side.  We need to stand for something, we need to provide a real vision for America that accurately reflects what we believe we can do together.  The problem is, we don’t have one, at least we don’t have one we call agree on.

I’d say we need McCain to provide leadership in this, but I don’t have confidence that he can build a coalition of vision.  I hope I’m wrong.  Someone like Karl could.

There is so much as Republicans that we are struggling with because we’ve been co-opted on some key issues (such as abortion, taxes, health care, education) and these have happened, I think, because we’ve failed to even educate our next generation of Republicans in basic conservative principles and how best to apply them.

We need desperately to be able to communicate what we believe in as conservatives, not what specific answers we have to any given problem, but what are the tenets that we base the kind of answers we derive.  Fred Thompson (I see he has a new gig [2]) had what I thought was an extremely effective approach to this in his “First Principles”, which took an abstract (somewhat timeless) view of  the topics that should concern us all, expressed a position on those topics and a general thought process to how best to work on that topic.  Quite frankly, I think these should have been made the Mission Statement for the Republican Party.

Until we can take a unified approach, can make a coherent presentation of what we are about, what we stand for, we are lost.  And frankly, if we cannot make an intelligent case (without the 30-second sound-bites) for Republicans or Conservatism, we don’t deserve to lead.  Yes, I know we need to have some approaches to marketing, but we have to have solid core content that can be explained to voters without them wondering if we’ve put Alan Keyes back into play.

I strongly suspect there is a good chance John McCain will be our next President.  I’m more concerned about the kind of Congress he (that is, we) will be stuck with the next 2 years.

Hat Tip on Fred’s new gig: Bitsblog [3].