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Battle for Republican Soul Begins!

Battle for Republican Soul Begins!

A year ago, writing from the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, I asked which 1994 strategy Republicans would take in 2006 – a winning renewal of the Contract with America or a loser like immigrant bashing. We all know how that story ended.

It was pretty clear that immigration was on the top of Republicans’ minds in 2006 – even based solely on the CPAC agenda. But in 2007, the party seems adrift, as if it suffered from the Democratic malaise of struggling to find a soul.

There is a battle brewing within the Republican Party between the activists and its general membership. Republican activists have gone ga-ga over the likes of Presidential Candidates Mitt Romney and Sen. Sam Brownback. But whenever Republican voters are asked whom they support in 2008, moderates like former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Sen. John McCain top the list. Heck, even Newt Gingrich – who’s not running – gets more support than the darlings of the Republican right. That’s making the CPAC crowd restless.

And it’s confusing. It’s hard to tell which enemy is upon us. Take a look at the topics to be discussed at this week’s edition of the Conservative cabal and you’ll see what I mean:

  • Beyond Our Pocketbooks: Social Issues and the Conservative Movement
  • What Happened to the Fight Against Big Government?
  • Conservative Values in the Real America – The States
  • America’s Business Elites – Do They Really Believe in Free Enterprise?
  • Why Are Liberals Hell-Bent on Raising Our Taxes?
  • Terrorism: Is Religious Extremism or Secular Extremism the Problem?
  • The Power of the Box Office: Bringing the Pro-Life Message to the Masses

And that is just the first day! Once you’ve wiped up the coffee that you’ve invariably spilled on your keyboard by now, let’s look at the underlying message of this agenda:

Conservatives should stop thinking about money and put social issues first. But we should have smaller government. Because Democrats control Congress we must use the states to assert our influence. Big Business doesn’t like you or our cause, they’re just exploiting conservatives to advance some other agenda. But we should have smaller government. Democrats, who push their abortion and their homosexuality on society are responsible for terrorism. If Al Gore can win an Oscar, why not Phyllis Schlafly?

In all of this, the one statement rings hollow in this “conservative” agenda is the thought that we should have smaller government. If the agenda of the leaders of the Conservative Political Action Conference is indeed a look at the true state of the Conservative movement in 2007, then the Liberals have won.

How so? Well, Liberals, at least as I knew them, were those who wished to use the instruments of the state to impose their will upon others. Socialists, National Socialists, Communists and Democrats all believed that if you didn’t agree with them, they’d use the government to make you. Sounds a lot like today’s so-called Conservatives, doesn’t it?

There’s no telling what will come from this year’s meeting of the Conservative Cabal, but we’ll be there to see how the Right plans to strike back in 2007 – and let you know against whom, the Democrats or themselves?