My personal musings about anything that gets on my radar screen--heavily dominated by politics.


GOP Reformation: Start With First Principles 

I opined at length the other night about the need for the conservatives and Republicans to engage in a new intellectual/philosophical Reformation. Tonight I will begin offering my opening thoughts on ways forward.

And it begins with a simple belief: articulate, refine, and constantly refer back to first principles.

This, of course, has electoral significance, as well. If John McCain gets caught in a battle this year of exchanging specific stories about people they've met on the campaign trail, and those peoples' trials and tribulations, Obama will crush him. First of all, McCain doesn't hold a rhetorical candle to Obama; second, that's always been a losing strategy for Republicans. The Left operates on emotion, and when they are allowed to draw on the pathos of their audience, they usually get the better of it.

[Note: the notable exception to this was Al Gore, who probably would have succeeded with the idea, except that he kept inventing he subjects of his stories]

We on the Right do much better when we make arguments based on broad, first principles. Ronald Reagan did not particularly articulate all the specifics of his plans, but we knew what his goals were: diminish the role of government, rebuild the military, and reaffirm the unique specialness of America. His successors have been less effective at articulating any such message--George H.W. Bush could not articulate much of a vision at all (which, it turns out, would have been okay--he played the part of "Steward" anyway), Bob Dole was never able to get around a message, and as clearly as W. has stated some of his first principles, his actions have been either too incompetent to execute them properly or Congressional Republicans have ignored any principle at all.

John McCain is starting to do well this week as he's going around the country hammering one consistent idea: America can and should be energy independent. He's called for an expansion of nuclear power use, and he's called for drilling on the outer continental shelf--an excellent first salvo which, so far, Obama has not had an answer for.

That's the beginning of a good theme. Let me propose this as the broader theme this week presents to us on the Right:

America is unique and special; therefore, the primary purpose of government should be to protect, preserve, and bring to fruitful realization the full extent of that specialness.

Much good flows from a simple belief like this. Like: the protections of the American Constitution do NOT extend to people captured as an irregular militia on foreign soil trying to kill Americans through stealth and terror; like: our dependence on the world market for core supplies like oil have introduced a vulnerability to our economy that is unnecessary, so we should take the necessary steps to provide for ourselves; like: American jurisprudence should be based on America's needs and place in the world, so judges will get appointed to lifetime jobs based on their understanding and adherence to America's founding documents and not world opinion; like: America will act as it sees fit to protect our interests and citizenry around the world, and not subject our policy debates to a "global test."

Somebody should make a point of saying that America is unique and special, and so it has a unique and special role to play on the world stage. Barack can go on and on all he wants about "restoring our standing" in the world, but making concessions to the bad players in the world will only make us look like dupes, and the truly failed policies of the past (circa 1978) will only leave us vulnerable and unrespected. Better that we embrace our place in the world and use it to extend the connectedness that our superior technology has created across the globe.

We've all become so danged accustomed to hearing politicians apologize for America that we lose sight of the big picture: America has been safer for the last seven years than for the seven before it; America has had an almost logic-defying period of economic growth in the last seven years; and there are parts of the world that are vastly safer now than they were seven years ago thanks to the work of Americans. Frankly, the world really needs an America that is confident and strong, or the Mugabes of the world will have an open field on which to create chaos, death and destruction.

And it starts with recognizing our place.

Weblog Commenting by HaloScan.com

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?