As many of you know myself, Greg Kline, and others have spent a significant amount of time talking about GOP branding and how the Republican Party needs to right the ship in order to achieve electoral sustainability in 2008 and beyond. And nowhere has the argument for such a necessary rededication to principles has been found than today’s Wall Street Journal piece penned by Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn:
Many Republicans are waiting for a consultant or party elder to come down from the mountain and, in Moses-like fashion, deliver an agenda and talking points on stone tablets. But the burning bush, so to speak, is delivering a blindingly simple message: Behave like Republicans.
Unfortunately, too many in our party are not yet ready to return to the path of limited government. Instead, we are being told our message must be deficient because, after all, we should be winning in certain areas just by being Republicans. Yet being a Republican isn’t good enough anymore. Voters are tired of buying a GOP package and finding a big-government liberal agenda inside. What we need is not new advertising, but truth in advertising.
And if that doesn’t cut to the teeth of the argument, nothing will. Make sure to read the whole thing.
One of the points that Coburn mentions time and again is the need for Republicans to start acting like Republicans again. And that is something that all Republicans need to embrace. Furthermore, this is not a problem just at the Federal level, either. We have seen time and time and time again where Republican elected officials even here at the state and local level have gone to unprecedented lengths to aid and abet Democratic efforts to raise taxes, increase the size of government, or support Democratic programs for pet issues.
Unfortunately, friends, this is where the rubber is meeting the road for our Republican future. Our “farm team” both here and across the nation are being weaned on “compassionate conservatism” and running and governing on ideals that are anathema to the conservatism that endeared our party and our leaders to the electorate. These candidates and elected officials are being sold a bill of goods that puts greater importance on the next election than the next generation.
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It falls on us to not be distracted by talk of a ‘new and improved brand’, and instead focus on promoting our values, especially those that we forgot about when Republicans were in power – a smaller government that cuts up the national ‘credit card’ and starts reducing the national debt, a simpler government that requires less red tape and agita to get things done, and a more fair government that does not favor one set of lobbyists over another – rather favoring sensible policy over foolish ones.
There is no silver bullet that will return Republicans and conservatives to ascendancy. But it will take Republicans from the grassroots level on up to stand up to big government Republicans, stand up to these liberals who wish to lead the party astray, and to reclaim the Republican Party for what it is. As Senator Coburn concludes:
Regaining our brand is not about “messaging.” It’s about action. It’s about courage. It’s about priorities. Most of all, it’s about being willing to give up our political careers so our grandkids don’t have to grow up in a debtor’s prison, or a world in which other nations can tell a weakened and bankrupt America where we can and can’t defend liberty, pursue terrorists, or show compassion.
The responsibility, friends, is ours.