Ronald Reagan forged a winning electoral majority on the stable foundation of what he described as a three-legged stool: fiscal discipline, traditional values and peace through strength. He understood it to be an appealing platform to the American people writ large, including, of course, economic, social and national-security conservatives and the rest of his Republican Party.
Unfortunately, it seems increasingly that today’s Republicans want to bet that they can regain the White House by cutting off two legs from that stool, disregarding, if not dismissing, outright conservative social issues and national-security themes.
A case in point came last week as the GOP’s presumptive 2012 presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, declared that his campaign was “not going to talk about” the left’s attempt to punish the owners of Chick-fil-A for their stand on homosexual marriage. Neither would it be talking about the request made by Rep. Michele Bachmann and four of her colleagues for an investigation into Muslim Brotherhood influence operations that appear with increasing success to be targeting the Obama administration.
Whatever one thinks about marriage between people of the same sex, surely a man running as a business-friendly candidate would say whether he favors boycotts of privately owned businesses on the basis of the beliefs of their shareholders.
Similarly, the Republican standard-bearer surely could observe that there are statutes and administrative guidelines designed to protect individuals and the government from the possibility that foreign associates may seek to exercise influence on family members, friends, colleagues or their federal agencies that employ them. He could make clear that he supports the rights of members of the House of Representatives to inquire whether there have been breaches of those rules. He could say he’s reserving judgment on their concerns until we learn the results of the requested inspector-general inquiries.
Instead, Mr. Romney is signaling indifference to these topics and, in the process, sending a message that can only alienate those for whom such issues are not just important, but determinative of their votes.
In past elections since the Reagan era, Republican establishment candidates and their strategists have taken the support of conservatives of all stripes for granted, sometimes contemptuously declaring “they have nowhere else to go.” Bob Dole, George H.W. Bush during his re-election race and John McCain are testaments to the failure to appreciate that while conservatives may not vote for their opponent, they do have somewhere to be on Election Day: They can stay home.
Failing to address matters of concern to the various parts of the Republican base — and to the future of our nation — is a formula for defeat, no matter how compelling Mr. Romney’s position may be on economic and fiscal matters, the one leg of the stool on which his campaign currently rests.
It happens that there is another powerful reason for addressing in particular the national-security portfolio and the threat posed by the Muslim Brotherhood. The next commander in chief will inherit a world substantially remade by the Obama Doctrine: emboldening our enemies, undermining our friends and diminishing our country.
Arguably, nowhere is that more true than in the parts of the globe where the Muslim Brotherhood and its allies are ascendant. That rise — and all it portends for our one reliable ally, Israel, and what remains of our “friends” in the Middle East, South Asia, North and sub-Saharan Africa — will present grave challenges to our security and other interests.
We need to know how the man who would replace Mr. Obama will contend with such a threat. To do so, we at least need to understand whether he regards it as such. If so, whether he is going to allow some of the factors that appear to have contributed to it — namely, the access to its councils the Obama administration has afforded to individuals with documented ties to the Muslim Brotherhood — to operate in his campaign and White House.
It is gratifying that Mr. Romney did not join some other Republicans in denouncing Mrs. Bachmann, Rep. Louie Gohmert, Rep. Trent Franks, Rep. Lynn A. Westmoreland and Rep. Thomas J. Rooney for seeking answers to these sorts of questions as they relate to the present administration. Still, if he wants to become the leader of the free world in the next one, Mr. Romney is going to have to address the mortal threat posed by the Muslim Brotherhood and its civilization jihad — a stealthy, insidious form of subversion that will, unless checked, remove all three legs of the Reagan “stool” and the constitutional republic it has helped build and preserve.
Frank J. Gaffney Jr. is president of the Center for Security Policy (SecureFreedom.org), a columnist for The Washington Times and host of the nationally syndicated program “Secure Freedom Radio,” heard in Washington weeknights at 9 on WRC 1260 AM.