Let me explain that.
As I talked about in my last post, politics is about coalition building. The Republican Party's current coalition will not last. America is becoming less white and more educated, while the GOP is becoming more white and less educated. If the modus operandi of the Republican Party remains the same, there will come a time in the near future when the GOP will take the swing out of the swing states. National Republicans who want to win rich delegate primaries like Texas will have to speak the kind of rhetoric that will insure that they won't win the same states in the general election. That rhetoric will only get more fiery as the Republican Party's base feels more besieged by the world that is changing around them. A talk radio fueled cultural movement is just not sustainable in America's every changing political environment.
But it is not just about politics.
Quite frankly, the Tea Party is just dead wrong on the major issues of the day. Let me give you a few examples.
1. We will probably need to raise some taxes (although very cautiously). Trying to balance a budget by cutting government spending in half during the worst economic crisis since the 1930s is both stupid and unrealistic.
2. Government spending, although a long term problem that needs serious attention, did not cause the financial crisis (it was a global collapse in demand). Major investments in infrastructure, education, and research would do more to put Americans back to work than fiscal austerity. Republicans need to worry about jobs now and the deficit later. Only with a fully functioning economy can we begin to deal with our gigantic deficit. The test of a true conservative is if they can cut government spending during times of robust economic growth. That kind of discipline shows real fiscal restraint, something that Mitt Romney exhibited in Massachusetts, but the Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush administrations did not.
2. The welfare state is not going away. Republicans ought to concentrate their energies on both reforming it and managing it. Entitlement spending needs to be reduced but not completely cut (I support Ryan's plan with major caveats; I prefer Romney's plan). Rising health care costs are the biggest cause of our growing deficit and Republicans ought to participate in the health care debate, not use it as a political weapon.
3. Immigration cannot be solved by spending billions of dollars on a gigantic fence. Ask any border governor. Immigration reform will need to include some form of "amnesty."
4. The United States should not bomb Iran. The repercussions of such a policy would be devastating (I will have a post on this later). America needs a more robust Department of State. The Department of Defense will need to be reduced, although quite modestly.
5. If the Tea Party really cared about emulating the Founding Fathers then it would prize that virtue that was most prevalent in those days: compromise. Yet, today's conservative movement has convinced itself that Barack Obama is a radical socialist who is hellbent on destroying America as we know it and would succeed if he were but able to utter a sentence without the aid of his teleprompter. The sad reality is that even if/when their preferred candidate Newt Gingrich gets slaughtered in a general election, they still won't see the same thing that the rest of America sees. Instead, they will continue to buy the lies of talk radio and believe that the only course forward is to fight harder to take back the very country that was so egregiously stolen from them.
Thankfully, there may be one last rescue attempt out of the abyss. Mitt Romney.
It is true that Mitt Romney has learned to adopt the language of the Tea Party, but Newt Gingrich is the Tea Party. That is why talk radio has never accepted Romney. They know that he has tried to win the Republican nomination without them and that he could very well win a general election despite them. And if he does, he is likely to shift the conservative coalition in a way that will leave some of the more strident talkers out in the cold. Romney represents an opportunity for the conservative movement to realign. That is why Erick Erickson believes that Romney would kill conservatism. He's right. Romney would kill Erickson's brand of conservatism, while charting a new path for responsible conservatives. In contrast, Gingrich would keep the band together for a few more happy years, until their angry and irrational rhetoric was drowned out by the cruel reality of irrelevance.
To borrow a phrase from Gingrich and apply it to the conservative movement: we are fundamentally at a crossroads. While I generally refrain from fear-creating allegorical junctures, I believe that the survival of a credible conservative movement is at stake in this election. America desperately needs an alternative to the unsuccessful Obama administration. It will not get that from a career lobbyist that was a reject from the 90s.
Mark my words. I will remain a conservative regardless of whether Romney wins or not. Whether I do so as a Republican does in some way hinge on his nomination.
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