Wading Through the Ideological Muck
“Agree with her or not, she seems like a sweet kid who means well.” HotAir.com's Allah Pundit recently Tweeted this reassuring proclamation to his followers. The subject: Meghan McCain. The context: Her political philosophy. Surely, Allah Pundit’s right. Meghan does, indeed, have good intentions. But it is her somewhat anti-conservative viewpoints about which direction the Republican Party should head that drive a wedge between her and her constituents.
In reality, Meghan's perspectives comprise just one of the many tenants competing for GOP dominance in a smorgasbord of ideological muck. Conservatives and Republicans are embroiled in a high-stakes battle-of -the-ideals, with all sides vying to capture the party’s heart and soul.
Unfortunately, some conservatives have forgotten that we live in a constitutional democracy. If you’ll recall, Laura Ingram was so incensed over Meghan’s political proclamations that she called her a “useful idiot” and made fun of her physical appearance. Just as Miss California had every right to voice her perspective during Sunday's Miss USA pageant, so does Meghan McCain have the right to express where she stands on her party’s sociopolitical alignment (I bring up this totally random side-note to remind conservatives not to perpetuate a double standard when criticizing “rogue conservatives.” This is America. May we all speak freely).
Two, Contrasting Perspectives
So, what’s the big deal about Meghan, you ask? She describes herself as a Progressive Republican. Others, like political strategist Patrick Ruffini, would likely counter efforts to bestow such an anti-conservative title upon the party. Ruffini sees a need within the movement to return to conservatism – an effort to clarify party roots, while infusing the values and ethics that made the Republican Party so appealing to the Reaganites.
In truth, this brief description is less that a totalistic view of what is occurring within the GOP; Meghan and Patrick merely represent two opposing sides, with a middle-range so diverse it couldn't possibly be captured in mere paragraphs. Ideological stances are surely in battle, but I'd hardly call it a full-fledged war. The Republican Party has lost step and those within it are attempting to repair its standing. The point of contention surrounds defining a literal meaning for “repair” and crafting an action plan that the majority of the party can embrace.
This past week on Twitter, Patrick said, “We can be more conservative AND more aggressive / dynamic / forward focused. These things are not in tension.” In contrast, Meghan McCain recently wrote, “I consider myself a progressive Republican…” and claimed that “…being a Republican is about as edgy as Donny Osmond.” Talk about a difference of opinion.
The two contrasting perspectives define, in a macro sense, the issues facing the party. While I am a big believer that current perspective is important in determining next steps, exploring the past is the best way to predict what’s to come in politics. A recent history lesson shows us that moving in the opposite ideological direction isn’t necessarily indicative of future success. Don’t believe me? Take a look at the democrats. Following its 2004 electoral defeat, the Democratic Party moved so far left that it's currently dangling off a cliff over a sea of socialistic decree. Barack Obama's nomination and subsequent election is the literal manifestation of this reality.
Clinging to the Outer Fringes
Aside from his overt inclination for “spreading the wealth” and his less than moderate positioning on issues like abortion and diplomatic relations with rogue nations like Iran, from 2004 and 2008, Barack Obama distinguished himself as the most liberal member of the United States Senate (or, as the Democrat's like to say, he earned the title of “Miss Congeniality”). That's like a baby learning to run before taking first steps. Or, to put it in a more realistic perspective: When a party embraces a candidate whose ADA rating beats Ted Kennedy's, one can safely say that said party is clinging to the outer fringes of liberalism. Barack Obama is the most left-leaning president America has elected to date. Hands down.
The GOP is now the Democratic Party post-Kerry. This in mind, the notion that becoming more “liberal” will redefine the party in a positive way just doesn't make sense. Unless Republicans want to see a split that rivals the Catholic-Protestant disunion, I'd advise against such a move.
If you follow the Democratic model, you'll see a party that elevated another ADA-favorite and a liberal, yet average guy -- John Kerry -- to take on George W. Bush during a time of relative domestic and international instability (2004). Following electoral defeat and a steady increase in discontent, the Democrats saw a clear opportunity in 2008 to make “change” through the nomination of the most left-minded candidate they could find. Enter, Barack Obama.
A State of Shear Dormancy
When I hear the debate about how the GOP should react, I wonder: Have some Republicans been in a dormant state? Are drugs that induce sense-retardant inclinations being consumed without their knowledge? Don't they get it? From health care to abortion rights, Barack Obama thinks we've done it all wrong. His self-proclaimed mission is to reboot any and all conservatively-influenced policies and his prescription for success is a hyper dose of Democratic doctrine. Meanwhile, Americans are encouraged to stand by while he continues to perform euthanasia on the financial markets.
What simply doesn't make sense from a strategic or logical standpoint is the idea that becoming Democratic Light will equate to a positive reformation for the Republicans in 2010, 2012 and beyond. Did the Democrats make themselves more conservative, or more moderate for that matter following their 2004 defeat? The most recent bailout and tax code changes should answer that question for you.
As much as I believe Meghan McCain to be an effective leader and someone who does, indeed, deeply care for her country (she is John McCain's daughter, after all), I deeply disagree with some of her insinuations that the party must move left for sake of survival. Retracing our conservative steps is the answer to formulating a true contingency plan. America doesn't need a more liberal GOP; she needs a more rational and doctrine-abiding one.
To clarify, this means looking at where the GOP has been in an effort to retrace and correct party wrongs. This process transcends architectural tweaks to the party; it requires recapturing the movement's heart and soul. It's not about gay marriage – or abortion (to name only two controversial social issues). This is not to say that conservatives cannot and should not hold opinions about these issues. Everyone is entitled to individual perspective (yes, even Meghan McCain). But, if we truly want to save capitalism, the conservative heart must shift focus to the most pressing issue of our time: America's economic decline. Fiscal conservatism is the answer.
Conservatives, for what it's worth, have stuck solidly to the structures surrounding America's social paradigms, but we have neglected and abandoned our small government mantra. We have allowed our own party members to engage in excessive spending, while sitting back and watching our economic doctrine lay dormant. The fiscal irresponsibility and vampire-esque future-feeding that the current administration is engaging in is a dangerous detriment to our democracy. The GOP needs to retract irresponsible spending policies and make good on its claim that human beings are the primary benefactors and architects of their own destiny.
It's time to truly embrace small government ideologies. It is not time to abandon our principles in pursuit of a party construct that already exists. What made the GOP so powerful was its embracement of important social and economic issues. In keeping in step, the only natural reaction is to return to our roots, while making good on both areas of political inquiry.