If conventional wisdom holds true and conservative candidates mop up tomorrow as expected, the Republican Party had better have a serious “come to Jesus” meeting, and quick. The party will either return to the tried-and-true principles of unsullied Reagan conservatism, or the new Republican revolution will fizzle faster than you can say “Obama is a socialist.”
Ronald Reagan often spoke of a “three-legged stool” that undergirds true conservatism. The legs are represented by a strong defense, strong free-market economic policies and strong social values. For the stool to remain upright, it must be supported by all three legs. If you snap off even one leg, the stool collapses under its own weight.
A Republican, for instance, who is conservative on social and national defense issues but liberal on fiscal issues is not a Reagan conservative. He is a quasi-conservative socialist.
A Republican who is conservative on fiscal and social issues but liberal on national defense issues is not a Reagan conservative. He is a quasi-conservative dove.
By the same token, a Republican who is conservative on fiscal and national defense issues but liberal on social issues - such as abortion, so-called gay rights or the Second Amendment - is not a Reagan conservative. He is a socio-liberal libertarian.
Put another way: A Republican who is one part William F. Buckley Jr., one part Oliver North and one part Rachel Maddow is no true conservative. He is - well, I’m not exactly sure what he is, but it ain’t pretty.
Regrettably, even in the face of the monumental Tea Party uprising (an unprecedented grass-roots clamoring for a national return to Reagan conservatism) there remain some in the establishment GOP who, nonetheless, seek to snap off one or more legs of Reagan’s three-legged stool. This is worse than counterintuitive. It’s political suicide.
Although he doesn’t take the idea nearly that far, Dick Morris, in an Oct. 20 opinion piece in the Hill headlined “The New Republican Right,” flirted a bit with the idea that today’s grass-roots conservative movement - as embodied by the Tea Party - “does not concern itself with social issues.”
To be fair, Mr. Morris clarified his position: “While social concerns still exist and are held deeply throughout the country, economic and fiscal issues have gripped the hearts and minds of Republican voters and candidates, pushing the social questions aside.”
Indeed, because of the neo-Marxist economic policies President Obama has foisted upon us, we as a nation face the very real threat of total economic collapse. Hence, economic issues necessarily are at the forefront of every patriotic American’s mind and efforts. When you slice an artery, you apply a tourniquet.
Still, just because you either stop the bleeding or die doesn’t mean you don’t then tend to the broken bones. Mr. Obama also has taken a baseball bat to us on social issues. He has employed every power granted by the Constitution - and many that aren’t - to push an equally radical pro-abortion, pro-homosexual, anti-Christian agenda.
For the Republican Party to misinterpret the largely Reagan conservative Tea Party’s obligatory attention to fiscal issues as apathy - or even antipathy - toward social issues is to make a dire miscalculation.
There seems to be a growing establishment misconception that Americans no longer care about the transcendent truths surrounding life, liberty and family. The GOP fails to correct this misconception at its own peril.
To those lucky souls fortunate enough to ride the wave of anti-Obama fever into public office, I strongly suggest the following: Even if you don’t happen to share each and every viewpoint held by the true Reagan conservative, you might at least consider acting - or, more important, voting - as if you do. If the GOP instead chooses to go about business as usual, any Republican renaissance will be a flash in the pan.
At the signing of the Declaration of Independence, Ben Franklin famously warned: “We must, indeed, all hang together, or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.”
Republicans, you’d better hang together. The grass roots aren’t exactly thrilled with the Grand Old Party. We’re just less thrilled with Democrats.
Yes, the GOP may well enjoy a tremendous victory come tomorrow, but make no mistake: It remains in a precarious position. Picture, if you will, an elephant standing on Ronald Reagan’s three-legged stool with a giant noose around its neck.
Better not to snap off any legs.
J. Matt Barber is author of the book “The Right Hook - From the Ring to the Culture War” (Freedom Press Canada Inc., 2009) and director of cultural affairs with Liberty Counsel.