- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 30, 2009

OPINION/ANALYSIS:

On Jan. 29 in Honolulu, the 168-member Republican National Committee, the Republican Party’s governing body, will debate a resolution over whether the RNC should continue to finance candidates who do not support many key principles in the party’s platform. The resolution would set a standard — some call it a “litmus test” — to judge whether a candidate qualifies for RNC financial support.

Last month, the special congressional election in New York was a fiasco because the RNC backed liberal Republican Dede Scozzafava over a conservative Republican who wound up running on the Conservative Party line. Mrs. Scozzafava then quit and endorsed the Democrat candidate, who went on to win.

That raised some profound questions: Should the RNC maintain a balance between simply electing more Republicans on the one hand and ensuring that those elected defend the party’s conservative principles on the other? To regain public trust, should the RNC match deeds with words by offering concrete steps to hold elected Republicans accountable?

As an immigrant from Communist China, I never had freedom until I got to the United States in 1980. I joined the Republican Party because of Ronald Reagan’s pro-freedom agenda. He hastened the fall of the “evil empire” by putting unbearable pressure on its long-crumbling economy. Millions were liberated.

Back then, the Grand Old Party stood for freedom. But I began to share the tea-party activists’ frustrations about broken promises, from earmarks to deficit spending. Those broken promises represented this party’s failure to stand for principles.

After the 2008 defeat, broken promises continued, with the usual lip service. Republican leaders asked voters to trust them to reassert party principles, while some continued to back the stimulus bill, deficit spending, cap-and-trade plans and Obamacare. Those Republicans not only continued to erode the party’s brand name, but also aided and abetted President Obama’s march to socialism. Some fear that a candid debate could relegate the Republican Party to indefinite minority status; that the party needs those promise-breakers for a “big tent” to regain the majority.

During the debate at the RNC on a resolution declaring the Democratic agenda as socialist, party leaders put their concern for how the media perceived them above their standing up for conviction. Some of us ask, “At what price?” and wonder whether the tent is big enough for the tea-party activists.

While the RNC debated what the Republican Party should call the Obama agenda, individual freedom eroded at an accelerated rate. The activists saw Republicans as those who voted to take away not only their freedom, but also their children’s and grandchildren’s freedom while the party stood by. They perceived the GOP’s failure to defend individual freedom as its acceptance of partial tyranny for the sake of “bipartisanship.”

The anger at an out-of-control Washington has driven those activists to protest in town halls and a march on Washington. They blame both parties for taking away their freedom. I can see their point, since I am now partially owned by the same tyrannical regime that I thought I escaped 29 years ago: China remains the number one holder of U.S. bonds, valued at $799 billion.

The Republican Party is at a crossroads. The fear of becoming a permanent minority party, which caused the RNC not to hold Republican leaders accountable, now becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. The latest Rasmussen polls showed, despite Republican victories in New Jersey and Virginia, a generic “tea-party” candidate in a 2010 congressional race would finish ahead of an unnamed Republican, by 23 percent to 18 percent.

The Whig Party’s failure to stand up for black freedom gave birth to the Republican Party. What would happen to this party if it fails to stand for individual freedom? A political party ceases to exist when it no longer stands for principles. If the Republicans were to break into two or three smaller parties, would this Republic survive eight years of Mr. Obama’s socialism?

After broken promises and more broken promises, would another “trust us” approach, without any teeth, be enough to save the Republican Party? Clearly, it is not enough. The RNC must offer concrete steps to ensure that party leaders will defend freedom.

First, the RNC must close the credibility gap caused by ideological inconsistencies. If this is the party of small government, lower taxes, less spending, free enterprise and individual freedom, the RNC must make sure candidates not only run as fiscal conservatives, but also govern that way.

Second, the Republican establishment must resist the urge to endorse a moderate candidate in a contested primary. This not only is divisive, but also raises questions about the party’s commitment to conservatism. It further undermines the trust the RNC wants to rebuild.

Finally, the RNC must hold the party’s elected lawmakers accountable to the voters by matching their promises with their records when their funding requests are considered.

Facing extinction as a party, the Republican Party must not fail. Benjamin Franklin reputedly said on the adoption of the Constitution, “We have given you a republic - if you can keep it.”

Making elected Republicans accountable is one way to keep the republic.

• Solomon Yue, an Oregon businessman, is an elected member of the Republican National Committee and a founder of two conferences within the RNC: the 24-member Republican National Conservative Caucus and the 96-member Conservative Steering Committee.

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