ALLAN JEFFERYS: What Must the Republicans Do to Win?
Arlen Specter did not defect because of ideological differences with the Republicans; he did so out of personal greed. He wants to continue to be a senator and fears he would lose as a Republican and win as a Democrat.
What ever happened to that old philosophy that called for a citizen to lay down his plow and go to Washington to serve his country with the understanding that when his term was over, he would again pick up his plow? We still do it at the local level, with storekeepers and country lawyers taking their turns. Why not at the national level? Why does everyone in Washington act like they own their jobs?
In fact, what ever happened to the differences between Republicans and Democrats? Time was it meant the difference between small government and low taxes and big government and big taxes. Today, the lines seem blurred as each member strives to remain in power for life. The real result of Specter's betrayal is the likelihood of a filibuster-proof Senate that will let the Democrats do whatever they will. Given the clear road to socialism down which the party in control seems to be headed, that scenario is frightening.
One of the best things about our form of government has always been the system of checks and balances. The legislative body watches the executive branch and the judicial oversees both. More and more, that seems to be going out the window. Even the Supreme Court, which should always stand apart, seems to be a target for Obama tactics. Watch the news about his choices to replace Souter and you will see what we mean.
The solution, of course, lies in returning the balance. There are many different approaches to how that can be achieved. Some argue for a three- or four-party system, with Libertarian being the first choice. Consider what happened when Perot and Nader ran; they split off votes from the Republicans.
Another approach is to narrow the appeal of the Republicans. The theory is that the Democrats ran the most liberal senator and won. They are forgetting that Obama ran from the center and pretended to be calm and cool and reasonable. Only after the election did the real Obama stand up.
The Republicans must move to the center and be much more liberal in embracing new members. Today, the GOP is perceived to be a bunch of intransigent WASPS who don't want you if you disagree on any one point. Pro-choice or pro-life should not be the most powerful litmus test of what a Republican is. Nor should gun control or placing the Ten Commandments on view be a be-all to end all. Find people who subscribe to the majority of these things but be aware that few will go for all of them.
Do not deny someone the nomination because they are Mormon -- or Jewish, or Catholic. Do not nominate a candidate because he is a war hero. War heroes should be honored, but they are not always electable. Above all, listen to those who know. Heed Dick Morris or Karl Rove or Newt Gingrich, but don't pay too much attention to Rush Limbaugh or Bill O'Reilly or Glenn Beck. These ego-driven narcissists are mainly interested in self-promotion, not party promotion.
Most important: Win. No one running in the last election had less experience and less reason to be elected than Barack Obama, but he won -- first the nomination and then the presidency. Learn from that. Find some Madison Avenue types who are good Republicans and turn them loose. Promote and market Republicans. Forget yesterday and yesterday's models. Forget smugness and hubris and think grass roots. Start with town councils and work your way up to the House and the Senate and, finally, the presidency.
It can be done, and it must be done if our Constitution is to survive.
Allan Jefferys, a former New York theater critic and newsman, lives in Pinehurst. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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