An article every center-right person should read

Agree or disagree, this article lays out much of the debate taking place right now.

A Driving Desire To Lose

Of the two main American political parties, Republicans are now clearly distinguished by their driving desire to lose. Every faction seems determined to rule the kingdom of irrelevance.

Witness the reaction to the National Council for a New America — an anodyne “listening tour” by Republican officials recently kicked off at a pizza parlor in Northern Virginia. Social conservatives attacked this forum on education and the economy for the offense of not being a forum on abortion and the traditional family. Neo-Reaganites searched the transcript for nonexistent slights: How dare former Florida governor Jeb Bush criticize “nostalgia” for the “good old days”? Why didn’t he just spit on Ronald Reagan’s grave? Other conservatives criticized the very idea of a listening tour, asking, “What’s to hear?”

During a recent conversation, Bush described himself as “dumbfounded by the reaction.” He added: “I don’t think listening is a weakness. People are yearning to be heard. Perhaps we should begin with a little humility.”

There is much for Republicans to be humble about. The party, says Bush, faces “dramatically changing demographics, especially Hispanics in swing states,” the “alienation of young voters” and an unprecedented drop in support among college graduates.

“Trying to be all things to all people isn’t going to work,” Bush contends. The goal is “not to redefine our beliefs, but to recognize challenges and adapt,” particularly on the issues of national security, health care, education, the economy and the environment. Republicans need to “focus on creating policies relevant to today — not things relevant 20, 30 or 40 years ago.”

Jeb Bush insists that this focus on creative policy can be unifying because “conservatives have more in common than they disagree on.” And the Republican Party has been unified in opposition to President Obama’s disturbing accumulation of federal debt and power. But on other issues, it seems to me that Republicans are likely to pass through a series of wrenching debates before they arrive at “policies relevant to today.”

If this is to remain a center-right nation (and some effectively argue that it no longer is), the so-called “right,” better get about the business of persuading people to join them on the right side of center instead of pushing every one who fails one of their litmus tests over to the left side of center.

How hard can that be?

David Brooks schools the ILL GOP on their incompetence

The Republican Party in Illinois, which I affectionately call the “ILL GOP”, is still run by the apparatchiks put in place by the likes of Edgar, Thompson and Hastert. These apparatchiks are now more interested in filling an ever expanding number of patronage positions (merely replacing Democrat with Republican apparatchiks) than they are in articulating a moral and just form of governance. This is why they have so utterly failed the Republican rank and file who so foolishly give them their votes.

I don’t agree with everything David Brooks writes (he’s a bit milquetoast for me), but he nails it here.

Q+A: David Brooks

As the Republican Party seeks to regain political control after the last election, some conservatives are calling for a new image.

“As Republicans sort out the reasons for their defeat, they likely will overlook or dismiss the gorilla in the pulpit,” Kathleen Parker wrote for The Washington Post. “To be more specific, the evangelical, right-wing, oogedy-boogedy branch of the GOP is what ails the erstwhile conservative party and will continue to afflict and marginalize its constituents if reckoning doesn’t soon cometh.”

Evangelicals make up about a quarter of the electorate, and about 62 percent of them identify themselves with the Republican Party. David Brooks spoke with Christianity Today in Wheaton, Illinois, about how evangelicals can change their image.

Do you see evangelicals as the core of the Republican Party or as weighing on the neck?

I see them as the core of the party. Just sheer numbers, politically, the party would be dead without evangelical voters, or without a lot of evangelical voters. But even more seriously, spiritually, … the moral core of the party is provided by social conservatives. Without that core, it would just be a party of tax cuts, and that wouldn’t be a very inspiring party. I think social conservatives will always be the core of the Republican Party.

Any political consultant in IL, or ILL GOP apparatchik, should be sued for malpractice (or laughed out their business) if they tell you anything other than the above bold text. The people who say “only a moderate can win” are, and always have been, wrong. This is not to say a ‘moderate’ can’t win, but that moderate had better have a pretty good relationship with the social conservatives. If he think he can win in IL absent their support (even if grudging), he doesn’t understand the party rank and file.

Can Christian conservatives repackage certain issues?

Life issues will always be center — life and death issues will always be central. I guess what I would think is the core issue — which is possible [issue] around which to build bridges — is the family, issues about family togetherness, reducing divorce rates, helping kids do missionary work or aid work in Africa. All that stuff should come from the core pro-life community to a broader community.

How does religion make a difference in the Republican Party, as opposed to just promoting conservative values?

Religion connects you to a set of moral principles that are more than just conserving the past or the free market. Americans like the free market, they like capitalism, but it’s not that inspiring. To really inspire people and inspire young people, you’ve got have a more serious moral mission. So I think social conservatives at their best provide that. As long as it’s not a social conservatism that is about how sinful everybody else is.

I agree with Brooks that there ways for social conservatives to moderate and improve their message, but there is nothing wrong with people standing on their principles if they are good at articulating them.

What is a Party, after all

While no one would criticize the nice sentiments in this video, where are the specific proposals?

I too revere Ronaldus Magnus, but we can’t re-run 1980. We might be able to re-run 1994, but how?

I’ve often stated that we (as a party) need some one with Reagan’s Charisma, Gingrich’s intellect and articulation, and Bush’s Resoluteness. I’ve come to the realization that WE need to be those people and not PINE for them.

Further, I was troubled by the “I will die a Republican” quote in the video.

Is that sane? What if the party is merely producing such a video for support with out actually having much interest in standing for it. “Till we die…..?!” For a POLITICAL PARTY!?

I’ll die for (and/or stay true to) an enduring idea, or a cause, or my beliefs (and the freedom to express them), but a PARTY? For a pack of Pension-sucking Patronage Clowns with an “R” after their name?!

I would argue for a slightly different tack. If a party or candidate no longer reflects the principles you believe in, then fight to have it return to those principles. If you can’t win that fight, abandoning the party is a better choice than slavishly pulling the lever for a party that intentionally lies to you and then does the opposite of what you want.

At the end of the day, Principles and character are what endures, and parties are mere earthly things of minor importance run by petty bureaucrats.

An obvious thought on Paul Vallas

I have no idea whether Paul Vallas’ switch to the Republican Party and his announced intention to run for Cook County Board President is a positive development for Illinois, Cook County, or Chicago Republicans.

It may be an indication that Republican fortunes have (or might) returned.

It may also be an indication that, being so incompetent, and having destroyed their relationship with their base, and having destroyed their farm team, the class of clowns who refuse to relinquish control of the party they destroyed are now left to recruit Democrats to run under their party banner.

Is this a return of the Republican Party, or evidence of their ultimate complete surrender to the Democratic Party. What next, Democrat Doug Whitley for governor? Democrat Bruce Rauner for governor? Perhaps John Daley could switch to the Republican Party and run for Mayor against his brother.

Why not recruit Rod Blagojevich to run for his old congressional seat as a Republican? Why, he hasn’t even been indicted yet!

In all seriousness, I’d be glad to see Vallas unseat Stroger, so I don’t mean this to be a slam on him. It’s just time that some one relentlessly pointed out just how bad the leadership of this party is.

Will Pensions be the ONLY issue in 2010?

They should be. The article below by Terry Savage outlines just how bad it is.

Battle brewing over Illinois pensions

Here’s a look at the dire situation for the retirement plans of state workers ranging from police to judges to university professors to members of the Illinois General Assembly. All are counting on generous state pensions, but may soon wake up to a brutal reality.

A financial war is brewing — and it’s likely to pit these public employees against Illinois taxpayers who are responsible for paying those generous pension promises. There simply isn’t enough money in all these retirement plans (see box) to send out the promised checks. If you think Bernie Madoff had a Ponzi scheme going, wait until the wave of boomer retirement hits the reality of pension underfunding.

The state pension plans have been underfunded for a long time. But the problem is going critical because of the stock market crash. Unless you’re willing to bet on a major bull market appearing in the next few years, there are only three solutions: raise taxes, increase employee contributions, or cut pension benefits.

If this doesn’t make you angry, nothing will. If you are looking to the Republican Party to provide better leadership, you are in for a huge disappointment, as they too are slaves to public employee union campaign contributions. If you don’t believe me, just look at how many of your REPUBLICAN Representatives are crawling over each other to sponsor this PORK PENSION BILL! (HB1702)

Featured blog – Peoria Pundit

Bill Dennis is writing some pretty good stuff over at Peoria Pundit.

I don’t necessarily agree with him on this post, but finding an answer to the fracturing “Republican Coalition” is important.