Do Republicans Get the Stakes, or Have the Guts to Fight?


Last night, Sean Hannity and Newt Gingrich sat down to discuss the former House Speaker’s new book, To Save America: Stopping Obama’s Secular-Socialist Regime.  For the most part, the conversation consisted of pretty standard fare for conservative commentary: the Left’s ideas have failed, Barack Obama poses a dire threat to the nation, and so on.  However, there were a handful of highlights that warrant further consideration:

GINGRICH: Ronald Reagan proved that cutting taxes creates jobs. He proved that believing in America leads people to be proud of their country to do the right kind of things. He proved you could defeat an evil empire and replace the Soviet Union. So by the early 1990s I thought, you know, we’ve proven all the major tenets of modern American conservatism. And it never occurred to me that the hard left would just dig in, bury themselves in the academic world and the news media and the labor unions. And now have come back more left wing, more radical, more determined… Suddenly we are in a struggle, I wouldn’t have thought possible. I literally would have told you 10, 15 years ago I can’t imagine the left being this unwilling to learn and this determined to seize power.

This stems from an apparent failure to recognize of the Left’s most defining characteristics: It’s not a philosophy; it’s a religion.  It is not pragmatic, it is not empirical, and it is not operating from the same starting values & philosophical presuppositions as the rest of the country.  If the Democratic Party’s goal was simply to keep the nation safe, free, and prosperous, then of course they would have converted on many of these issues long ago.

But that’s not the goal.  Their goal is not simply to preserve an already-wonderful place to live within the confines of human nature, but to engineer a utopia.  They continually agitate for more government power & responsibility because they can’t bring themselves to trust average Americans to run their own lives.  As David Horowitz chronicles in The Politics of Bad Faith, not even the full scope of the Soviet Union’s crimes and failures was enough to convince liberal elites that their utopian dreams could only end in nightmares.

Why should we have expected the hard Left to fade away? Democratic policymakers are still being educated by the same leftist academic establishment, and left-leaning voters are still being informed by the same ideological media. If this comes as a surprise to even a seasoned conservative leader like Newt Gingrich, then it’s a safe bet that there are many more conservatives who need Remedial Leftism 101.

Hannity also expressed doubts as to whether or not the GOP understood the stakes and had the will to fight back strongly enough:

GINGRICH: But in all fairness. They opposed them unanimously on Obamacare.

HANNITY: They did. They did, OK.

GINGRICH: I mean straight out. Unanimously.

HANNITY: On Obamacare, on the stimulus, on cap-and-tax.

GINGRICH: Yes. I mean so, so in some ways, I mean, look, you and I are both probably more aggressive and more risk-taking than a fair number of Republicans. But if your choice is, where John Boehner and Mitch McConnell are, or where Pelosi and Reid are. I mean we’re talking about a gap the size of the entire country.

Yes, the Republicans deserve some credit for putting on a united, fairly strong front against ObamaCare, but there’s a lot more to leadership than voting the right way.  Consider the following:

Each of these stories displays a clear rejection of the nation’s core values, including the Constitution, and reveals a scandalous disregard for good government.  Each should be met with intense, unanimous condemnation from congressional Republicans.  But instead, it still remains an open question whether or not the GOP will put up much of a fight over Kagan’s confirmation at all, and it’s questionable how many people aside from blogosphere and Fox News junkies will even hear about the other two controversies.

Whether their rhetorical ineptness is motivated by political cowardice or a lack of conservative conviction (most likely a combination of the two in many cases), Newt Gingrich is correct that the party desperately needs “the courage to just do it”:

Understand The New York Times will hate you; understand that the elite media will hate you; understand that the interest groups will scream; understand that the government employee unions will picket and march. That’s fine.

They are on the other side. They’re wrong. They represent crippling America. And I think if you watch what’s happening in Greece, you can tell the people who are selfishly against change and the people who understand that Greece will not survive without change.

_____

Hailing from Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, Calvin Freiburger is a political science major at Hillsdale College.  He also writes for the Hillsdale Forum and his personal website, Calvin Freiburger Online.