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Republicans are at a crossroads

POSTED: February 28, 2008 5:00 a.m.

The fallout from Super Tuesday still hasn’t settled yet, leaving both parties in a bit of disarray.

Democrats find two candidates neck and neck, while Republicans have an ostensible leader in John McCain, but find the party fractured by Republicans who believe McCain is the last person who should represent the Republican party in November.

The Republican party finds itself at a major crossroads in its career. Comparisons have been made to what’s happening in the Republican party now to what happened in 1964 with Barry Goldwater.

At that time, the Republican party was controlled largely by a more moderate wing, and Goldwater represented conservatism at its best.

When Goldwater wound up winning the nomination, the moderate Republicans folded up their tents and stayed home. They were unhappy with him as a nominee, and so sat the election out. Consequently, Goldwater was shellacked by Johnson, and things seemed to be bleak for Republicans. However, Goldwater’s candidacy set the stage for a move to the right in the Republican party, leading to the greatest conservative of all, Ronald Reagan, to eventually lead the party and the country in a groundswell of conservative principles.

It was Reagan, among others, who defined for a generation the principles of conservatism, which included among other things, low taxes, smaller government, limited government interference, a strong national defense, an inherent right to life for all, including the unborn, and the necessity for strong moral values in all of society. This leadership led to the incredible prosperity our country has seen for the last twenty years, and the death of the greatest threat to the entire world, communism.

While this was an incredibly good thing for America, the conservative slant of the Republican party did not sit well with the blue blood, old-time establishment moderates in the party who liked to call themselves Republicans but really had no conservative ideals whatsoever. These moderates have gradually turned things around, and through the terms of George H.W. Bush and now George W. Bush, have been taking over the party.

A tremendous resurgence of conservative principles came in 1994 with Newt Gingrich and the "Contract with America", which led to the Republicans gaining control of the House and eventually the Senate for the first time in over 40 years. The impetus for this was the extreme leftist principles of the Clinton administration, and conservatives united to fight this obvious threat.

The problem was, once the Republicans took control, they forgot their conservative ideals and started acting like Democrats, spending taxpayers’ money like drunken sailors. Having suffered no repercussions for this, the moderates have steadily been gaining in power, and we are now seeing the fruits of this in the person of John McCain.

It’s now 2008, and instead of the moderates being on the outside as in 1964, it’s the conservative wing of the party finding itself left out.

Evangelicals, as well as genuine conservatives, see John McCain’s potential nomination as the Republican candidate as the greatest betrayal of their principles.

Despite his recent bleatings, John McCain is no conservative. He voted against Bush’s tax cuts, authored McCain-Feingold, one of the most egregious affronts to free speech in this country’s history, thinks amnesty for illegal aliens is great, and regularly sides with the Democrats on many issues.

Problem is, if conservatives wanted to work with Democrats, they would become Democrats. Why is it that "working with the other side" always requires Republicans to give up cherished conservative principles while Democrats never budge on their extreme leftism?

What we may see is a repeat of 1964, where true conservatives will stay home rather than support a nominee who is anything but. McCain will go down in flames, and Obama or Clinton will reign in the White House.

Quite frankly, the only good thing I could see potentially coming out of that is that a Clinton presidency would galvanize the true conservatives in the party like nothing else, and the Republicans may once again find their roots. However, this rebirth would only come about after the horror of Hillary Clinton being in control, and I’m not sure the country could survive it.

The Republicans need to return to conservatism. They have lacked a true conservative leader since Reagan stepped down. No one jumped into the void to lead. George Bush is not a conservative leader. He applies conservative principles from time to time, but he is not leading a movement. Conservatives need to find that leader, someone who is not afraid to be conservative, state what conservatism actually is, and then lead the charge. Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee don’t seem to be that man, either. Again, like George Bush, they espouse some conservative principles, but are they truly conservative? Their records as governors would say not.

Republicans are facing a crisis in their party, and it’s time to draw the line in the sand. To be successful once again, they need to find their core-and that core can only be found in true conservatism.

What the end result of all this will be I know not. However, I do know that whatever the outcome of November’s election, America is in for a very bumpy ride.

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