I have a boss (whom I like very much personally - and I'm not just saying that to score points, since he doesn't read my blog) - who is for all intents and purposes, a bleeding heart liberal. Oh, he is loathe to accept the "bleeding-heart" mantra, but as a child of the 60's anti-Vietnam, hippy era, he takes tremendous pride in his liberalism. Because of his expressive political views, he and I often find ourselves in deep debate. Of course, since he is the one who signs my paycheck, I never allow my disgust of his convictions get in the way of my tolerant respect.
Today, we were talking about the defection of Senator Arlen Spector to the Democratic party. As usual, he seemed to gloat over the move and even went so far to compare how Democrats reacted to how Republicans reacted by quoting the always tolerant (not) Howard Dean. Of course, if I mention that someone on the right who is as non-partisan as Dean - someone like Newt Gingrich or Rush Limbaugh - he immediately goes into full attack mode and refuses to acknowledge that have even one brain cell in my head.
And that's the problem I have with today's left. It isn't really a new problem and most of my conservative friends feel exactly the same way. It takes a certain amount of arrogance to be so sure that you are right 100% of the time and anyone who disagrees with you is not just wrong, but stupid.
As the conversation went from bad to comically worse, he decided to offer his belief - and remember, as a hard-left liberal, his belief is equal to the word of G-d - as to what is wrong with the Republican party. Namely, that it is being hijacked by the conservative right!
That's right. In his view, the way for the Republicans survive is to become more liberal. He uses this past Presidential election to prove his point. According to him, the reason Obama won so handily was because America wants a liberal President.
Well, I see it differently.
To me the problem with the Republican party is that for too long, they have tried to out-Democrat the Democrats. While I hold President Bush is high regard, he was not a conservative - at least not in his policies.
The last time a true conservative, someone who espoused true conservative ideals - small government, strong military, secure borders and fiscal responsibility - was Ronald Reagan. At what happened when he ran? He won with a landslide - twice.
So this year, the Republicans offered John McCain - the only Republican to the left of Arlen Spector! What was the result?
Republicans needs to stop worrying what Democrats think of them and start expressing not why liberalism is a bad thing, but why conservatism is a good thing. They need to stand for something other than being the opposition. That's what the Democrats did for the past 30 years and it got them nowhere.
Conservatism is not and never was a dirty word. Although the mainstream media tries to portray it as such, most Americans still watch FOX News over the rest and middle America (away from the big cities) still values conservative ideals. But it is up to those Republicans who are not ashamed of their party. It's up to those Republicans who - when they say they value fiscal responsibly, or they say they want secure borders, or if they say they want a stronger defense - they mean it with words AND deeds.
The Republican party must be different from the Democratic party for them to survive. The only way a two-party system works is by offering choice of ideals. Until the Republicans stop trusting others to know what's best for them (for instance - allowing the New York Times, The New York Times, for G-d's sake, to dictate and push for John McCain to be the nominee) and start believing in their convictions again, it will be a very long exile.
But if they can take the cue from the tea-parties and somehow learn to express these beliefs coherently, then they can rebuild. It isn't too late. While 2010 is just a year away, the mistakes this administration is making and the arrogance Pelosi's "most ethical congress" (cough, cough) is showing is turning off many of the moderates that Obama convinced was a "different kind of politician." These moderates will turn their backs on the socialization of this country as long as they have a coherent choice.
My boss may never agree with me and I may never agree with him. I look forward to the time we can debate these issues honestly and openly. As long as Pelosi and company have a filibuster-proof majority, there is no reason to think that this debate can happen. It's now up to the Republicans to show the way.
I hope they are up to the task.