These are painful times for most conservatives. Since Election Day, hopes of a pro-constitution Supreme Court, at least for the foreseeable future, have vanished. The prospect of an energy program that puts American workers and American industry as its first priority no longer exists. And with it goes the nation's ability to maintain and determine its own future standard of living. Socialism and "political correctness" are making giant advances forward, while any ability to stop them is elusive at best.
To make matters worse, prominent "Republicans" are now regularly coming forward to castigate the party, or at least its conservative base, as the root cause of its problems and defeats in recent years. The latest and loudest contender is the once immensely popular General Colin Powell.
In a December 11 interview on CNN, he vented his antipathy towards Republican conservatives whom he derided for attempting to use "polarization for political advantage." According to Powell, these people are unable to grasp the political need to reach out to minorities, preferring instead to maintain an agenda which he portrays as exclusionary and which he clearly identifies with white, middle-class America.
Powell lashed out directly at Rush Limbaugh, whom he accuses of appealing to "our lesser instincts rather than our better instincts." He had similarly unkind words for Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, whom he likewise accused of polarizing the party with her talk of "small town" values. Powell followed by pointing out his own "roots" in the Bronx, asserting that such a background has not left him wanting in the area of "values."
In Powell's world, only by distancing itself from the moral and political philosophies of Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, and their connection to the American heartland, can the GOP ever hope to broaden its appeal to moderate voters who ostensibly hold the keys to the party's future.
Admittedly, the overt absurdities of Powell's thinking need to be identified. Furthermore, a thorough examination of his real motivations should be conducted. He is wrong on every front, and certainly needs to be characterized as such in order to neutralize his attempted influence on the Republican Party.
For starters, consider Powell's convoluted and thus typically liberal approach to the issues of race and ethnicity in America. >From the "multiculturalists" we have for so long heard the grand drivel that "Our diversity is our strength" that most people accept and believe it without question. Yet by his very words, Powell asserts that Republicans need to pander to differing minority factions, presuming no such common "strength" but an inherent system of weaknesses among them that require special attention.
To Powell and his political class, this "outreach" is of course comprised entirely of expanded government entitlement programs and increased social spending, as if all of the former massive expenditures ever yielded even a modicum of benefit to the nation's increasingly segregated and balkanized ethnic subcultures. Rampant urban squalor and despair are all the nation has to show for its past fiscal orgies, so why not up the ante?
Secondly, Powell makes the pitch for abandoning one of the Republican Party's brightest and most inspiring newcomers, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, disdaining her references to "small town values." Perhaps, if he is so enamored with the "values" of his old neighborhood in the Bronx, he might want to take a walk through the 43rd Precinct at three in the morning, or hop on the subway, unescorted, at about the same time. No doubt even he could see a bit of contrast between the "values" of that urban jungle, and the sappy quaintness of Middle America that Palin naively extols but he holds in such low regard.
Nevertheless, Colin Powell's actions of the past few weeks, along with his treacherous endorsement of Barack Obama at the most crucial point in the presidential campaign, are not entirely a bad thing for those who want to rejuvenate the GOP. Only by recognizing the deleterious effect of Powell and his kind, and the futility of ever having attempted to expand the "big tent" to the point that outright liberalism might have a home in the Republican Party, can true conservatives stem the tide of liberal ideology that increasingly infects and undermines their party as a viable alternative to the Democrats.
For too many years, the Republican Party has sought to further its political fortunes by attempting to simultaneously uphold both the high standards of its conservatives and the low standards of its liberals, who most often like to cast themselves as "moderates." And for just as long, the "moderates" have proven to be a bunch of "Trojan Horses," regularly undermining conservative agenda items to the delight of the Washington establishment. Ultimately, a party of numerous conflicting standards is a party with no standards at all.
As a result, the party could rarely muster the momentum to take on big battles, and make big changes in the corrupt manner that business is conducted in present-day Washington D.C. The trillion-dollar "bailout" scam is only the latest example. All too often, rather than being pro-active with a truly conservative agenda that would put the Democrats into a completely defensive mode, the only thing the Republicans can accomplish is to offer a watered down version of the latest liberal agenda item.
This is neither a winning strategy, nor does it inspire voters with the party's "leadership" abilities. Instead, it constitutes a "lose/lose" scenario, which ultimately allows liberal programs to prevail and expand, while dispiriting the conservative base that any real reason exists to support Republicans in major elections.
It was just such a dismal chain of events that portended the Republican loss of both houses of Congress in 2006, and set the stage for the 2008 elections. In both cases, lurking Republican "moderates" came out into the limelight in the wake of the elections to assert a "need" for the party to move still further left. Powell's indefensible rant is merely the latest iteration of this pattern.
Yet by so doing, Colin Powell has shown real Republicans who truly want future elections to result in Republican victories (and more importantly, conservative victories), just whose insipid thinking needs to be broomed from the GOP.
Copyright ©2008 Christopher G. Adamo