- - Wednesday, November 12, 2014


The only two certainties in life, Benjamin Franklin once wrote, are “death and taxes.” After their big victories in 2008 and 2012, many Democrats thought that they would never again face political death, that their new winning coalition was a “sure thing.”

Alas, there is a third certainty in life: “Sure things” are anything but.

After the historic 2014 Republican wave, the GOP is in a stronger position than it has been in nearly a decade.

Republicans should savor the celebratory champagne now, however, because the real challenge is to come.

The Democrats received collective punishment for collectivism. They got their hats handed to them because their destructive policies have crippled the nation. Impotence abroad and negligence, corruption, incompetence and malfeasance at home drove voters to the GOP. A victory by default is still a victory, but it’s much like a sugar rush, temporary and unsatisfying. Then, the inevitable crash arrives.

Being “ABD” —“anybody but the Democrats” — may have been enough to carry Republicans across the finish line this time, but it will not be enough to sustain them through the 2016 election. They will quickly find that they must offer voters a clear, positive, compelling reason to vote for them, rather than simply against the other party.

That is going to require discipline, imagination, and charismatic and energetic leadership. It’s a tall order, but it can be done.

The first step is to show that the new GOP is not an aimless mush of reactive folks, but a focused party of principle. Of course, President Obama, his administration and the Democrats are an aimless mush of reactive folks, but Republicans are going to have to show they’ve got more to offer. After all, Hillary Clinton and the rest of her party will have the full protection of the corrupt press going forward, so they won’t have to do much beyond spew platitudes. Republicans will have to work harder.

That means that the new Republican-controlled Senate must move quickly to demonstrate the party’s commitment to conservative ideas: dismantling Obamacare, passing a fiscal 2015-16 budget resolution, authorizing the Keystone XL pipeline and other initiatives to achieve energy independence, proposing meaningful tax reform, halting Mr. Obama’s executive action on amnesty for illegal immigrants, rebuilding the military, and stopping a bad deal on Iranian nuclear weapons. That’s just for starters.

The Republican Party must show itself to be a party of ideas, optimism and an unapologetic commitment to the nation, not to itself. This is not a time for cowardice.

The next project for the Republicans will be to unify around a coherent conservative message that will cast the distinction with the Democrats in the boldest possible terms. In 1994, Republicans rallied around the “Contract with America,” a set of governing principles they pledged to enact if elected. Many Americans didn’t focus on the actual contract, but they did see a party speaking with one voice, advocating one central message.

They now have a real opportunity to direct the public’s attention to the failures of Mr. Obama’s socialist agenda and at the same time to advance non-statist solutions to the squeezing of the middle class, health care reform and broader economic uncertainty. This is why the specific Senate agenda, noted above, will be so important.

Absent a natural, dynamic leader — a la Ronald Reagan in the 1960s and 1970s — the trek out of the political wilderness may end up being a self-guided tour. The race for the Republican presidential nomination will generate a healthy but cacophonous competition. It will also take awhile to produce a party leader. The sooner the rest of the party self-enforces discipline and unity, the better.

Third, the GOP is going to have to understand what it’s up against. The modern Democratic Party is not your father’s or grandfather’s Democratic Party. The far-left takeover of the party, begun in 1968, has reached its zenith under Mr. Obama, the most radical leftist ever elected to the presidency.

The Democrats are now fully an instrument of that radicalism. As they seek to complete what Mr. Obama called the “fundamental transformation” of the nation, they willingly use whatever tactic necessary, from pathological lies to racist smears to bogus identity-politics “wars,” to get and keep power.

If the GOP runs a 20th-century presidential candidate who will run a “gentleman’s campaign,” he will lose. The radical new Democrats play gutter politics, and while it’s not necessary to mirror their corrupt and unethical games, it is necessary to understand them and fight back with full force.

Like it or not, we’re in a war for America. The forces to save her have just been given a new lease on life. America’s future depends on their success. There’s not a moment to lose.

Monica Crowley is online opinion editor at The Washington Times.

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