Sunday, January 25, 2009

Memo to Disaffected Republicans: Enough with the Funeral Already!

Former GOP Congressman Mickey Edwards has written a piece about how Ronald Reagan would not recognize the current Republican Party. Now there is much to agree with in his essay, but at some point, this is all tiring. I mean, haven't we been hearing about how the GOP isn't what it used to be for quite some time?

Goldwater-style Republicans, libertarians, people like me who tend to be more Rockefeller Republicans all whine and moan about the current state of the party and there is much to be said about how the party is no longer one of ideas.

But I keep thinking that all of this feels more like a funeral- a weeping for a dear friend that has been passed on.

And the thing is, I'm tired of funerals.

I think that instead of griping about the Republican party and blaming Karl Rove and George W. Bush, how about we do something about it? Instead of expecting the current leaders, who have brought us to this point, to change, how about rising up new leaders? Instead of bemoaning the fact that we have no new ideas, how about creating new think tanks and journals and blogs that present new ideas?

Listen, I am as upset as anyone about the state of the Republican party. But nothing will happen if all we do is whine. Lots of ink and bytes have been spilled to say the obvious over and over again.

I've heard Mr. Edwards talk about this subject over and over again, in his book, on Huffington Post and now here. Instead of writing sad songs about a lost history, how about using your expertise to fund a think tank or a PAC that helps good conservatives run for office?

Democracy is a verb. It is about action and politics is about who shows up. The reason that the Religious Right has such power in the GOP is because they did it the old fashioned way- they came in and ran for party offices, took part in platform committees, and found candidates that were to their liking to run for office. Contrary to popular opinion, the far right didn't hijack the party- they took it over using the tools of democracy. I don't like the Religious Right, but they did right in steering the party in the way they wanted it to be.

Those of us on the outside, the moderates, the libertarians and so on, have not done as much. We stand and wail about how the party has lost its way, but we do very little other than complain. For a party to change, people have to get busy and organize and fight for it.

More times than I can count, people complain about the party and then say they will leave it. Oh yeah, great idea. You've basically just told the religious right that they have won.

Years ago, I remember a person saying he wouldn't be involved in the GOP until they changed their pro-life stance. Stupid man. Did he really think that the current GOP which is filled with powerful pro-life people is just going to change? No. It won't change unless people get involved.

Our friends on the left as well as the Religious Right are correct in one sense: they know that to make change, they have to get involved. That's why they are part of groups like and so on. That's why they go to party conventions and they spend money to put up the candidates they want.

But us disaffected Republicans? We want everything done for us. We want some magical person to come and change everything. But that's fantasy, not politics. Politics, social change,is hard knuckle. It's not a game and if you can't handle that, then shut up and move along.

There are a lot of groups out there that work day in and day out trying to force change in the GOP. They are small and have a hard time finding people who are passionate in changing the party for the better. Maybe instead of whining, people might want to consider joining some of these groups:

These groups could use support. But that means getting your hands a bit dirty instead of simply wringing them.

So, I am not interested in more sad talk about the sorry state of the GOP. Mickey Edwards can wail all he wants, but it won't bring his beloved party back.

As for me, I am going to take Ghandi's quote to heart: "be the change you want to see in the world."

Enough with funerals. Time to start living.

1 comment:

Philip H. said...

They do it because teh wailing is easier then admitting their policies didn't get them the payoff they wanted. They do it because to do the real alternative - develop new innovative ideas and carry them forwad - is risky politically, and after you loose you tend to lower your risk tolerance.