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« "From the Desk of an Eternal Optimist: An Open Letter to Conservatives" | Main

February 05, 2009

Republican Study Committee's Hopeful Message to Conservatives

The Republican Study Committee (RSC) is the caucus for conservative Republican House of Representative members. It was initially founded as a legislative study group in 1973, the same year as the founding of the Heritage Foundation. Having a long tradition of using conservative ideals to fashion legislation and legislative agendas, including those that gave us President Reagan and the original Republican Majority in Congress, last fall the RSC was the only legislative group offering free-market solutions to the economic crisis (ignored by the Democratic Congressional majority and the Bush Administration) that made any sense.

On February 4th 2009, the Chairman of the RSC, Rep. Tom Price M.D., sent out an open letter to members of the RSC's mailing list. Whenever letters like that go out, one assumes that a request for funds can be found somewhere inside. But this letter was different, and wasn't a plea for money. Rep. Price was asking conservatives for support - but in the form of optimism and determination to get the GOP back to its conservative foundation, asking them to once again firmly embrace "conservative solutions-based traditions".

It's a message that the public seems increasingly ready to accept. As the public becomes more educated about the scam that President Obama and the Democrats are trying to pull over on the taxpayer with their economic 'stimulus' legislation, support is plummeting - now down to 37%. A surprising 50% of Americans now say that the stimulus plan is going to make things worse. A recent poll from Rasmussen shows that in light of the House Republicans' unanimus stance on turning Obama's economic recovery legislation into a true economic stimulus, the GOP now trails the Democrats in the Generic Congressional Ballot by only 4 points, 38% to 42%. Another poll from last week shows that Republicans are appreciative of the new conservative direction of the party - and that they overwhelmingly (55%-24%) feel that the future of the GOP lies not with the 'moderate' and populist brand of Republicanism represented by failed Presidential candidate John McCain, but by the conservative brand represented by his running mate Sarah Palin.

In the most telling evidence of how receptive the general public is to traditional Republican conservatism, pollster Scott Rasmussen took on Nobel Laureate Economist and NYT gadfly Paul Krugman head-on over a statement the columnist recently made. In an op-ed, Bad Faith Economics, Krugman said:

Next, write off anyone who asserts that it’s always better to cut taxes than to increase government spending because taxpayers, not bureaucrats, are the best judges of how to spend their money.

Rasmussen took one look at that statement, remarkably arrogant even by Krugman's standards, and decided to take the exact quote and poll the American public on it:

Do you agree or disagree with the following statement… it’s always better to cut taxes than to increase government spending because taxpayers, not bureaucrats, are the best judges of how to spend their money?

The results? 50% agree with the statement that taxpayers know how to spend their own money best, and only 24% agree with the Nobel Laureate. I would also bet that the remaining respondants who had "no opinion" lean more towards keeping their own money rather than let Nancy Pelosi spend it for them.

Even with the economic crisis, it's surprising that the American public seems so receptive to conservative positions, so soon after they repudiated the GOP brand at the polls. It's clear that even if this stimulus plan passes - as the Democrats can do without help from the GOP - a clear majority of taxpayers are going to be very unhappy with it. That is a great base for the Republicans to operate from, regardless of what the drive-by media claims.

The RSC, specifically Chairman Tom Price, recognizes this. And so we have his letter to conservatives, titled From the Desk of an Eternal Optimist: An Open Letter to Conservatives. An excerpt:

The Republican Party is at its best when its leadership has a bold vision and is rooted to conservative principles: personal responsibility, liberty, limited government, traditional values, providing for the common defense, and optimism about the future.  But Republicans seem to have lost the ability to intelligently or ideologically define these principles and convey them to the American people.

What should Republicans and right thinking Independents do to change that? Here's Dr. Price's prescription:

•     Back to basics: The first step starts with a little bit of self-reflection and “re-learning” the core principles of conservatism.  Only through understanding the past can our core principles be applied and developed into meaningful solutions to tackle the challenges facing America.
•     Party of Solutions: A new Republican platform of ideas and language must be created and championed, built on a foundation of conservative solutions.  It will also need to be built from the ground up from fresh and innovative ideas.
•     Rebuild the party’s infrastructure and coalitions: There must be a specific focus on nurturing the grassroots, shoring up ties with existing coalitions and leading thinkers, and creating new infrastructure to meet the challenges of politicking in a new century.
•     Hold Democrats accountable: This begins with a proactive and coordinated strategy between elected conservative leaders and outside allies.  Americans need to be reminded on a daily basis that Democrats want to play politics and centralize power, raise taxes, cut defense spending, and undermine traditional values.
•     Go on offense, engage and educate: Yes, Virginia, someone in Washington is fighting for you.  And when Republicans stay on offense and engage, then it garners attention and provides opportunities to educate every American on conservative solutions that work.  Look no further than the Energy Revolt on the floor of the House of Representatives this past August which gave Republicans a needed voice and identity.
•     Remain unified and disciplined: Hostile Democrat majorities and liberal special interests are more energized than they have been in decades.  Without unity and discipline, the differences between the two parties become blurred, and conservatives have every right to question allegiance to Republicans.
•     Reclaim the American lexicon: Democrats have been successful in altering the mindset of what made this nation great through language and institutions. Once, Americans valued “responsibility,” “self-determination,” and “hard work.”  Now, these ideals have been replaced by fuzzy appeals to “diversity,” “fairness,” and “social justice.”  No longer can Republicans cede the language or institutions.
•     Broaden the appeal: Republicans win elections when they run on an across-the-board conservative solutions-based agenda. However, the appeal must be broadened to acknowledge and embrace the demographics in our country.  Failure to do so will relegate the party to permanent minority status.

It all about staying true to your conservative ideals - and message, message, message. As has been shown with Obama's economic stimulus package, it's pretty easy to peel away the rhetoric and show such a bill for what it is - a giant payback by the President and the Democrats to their special interests, the ones that got them elected. Alternate plans, proffered by entities like the RSC and the Heritage Foundation and promoted to the public by Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and the conservative blogosphere, makes sense to the majority of Americans - even with the drive-by media's overwhelming promotion of the Democrats' plan.

Time for all of us to take Rep. Price's message to heart, and prepare for 2010.



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