Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Are Republicans Losing Their Courage?

"Come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall! " - Ronald Reagan, June 12, 1987

On his program Monday, Rush Limbaugh made mention of a recent retreat held by the Senate Republicans. He said this, "As I mentioned to you on Friday, the Senate Republicans had a retreat, and they all came out of it demoralized. They were told, "Do not be confrontational, be moderate, and remember the plight of northeastern Republicans." It appears the Republicans have lost their nerve.

It didn't used to be this way. This party was founded 153 years ago by individuals who had the courage to take a stand. Read their 1856 platform here. It started with those who felt slavery was an injustice and needed to be stopped.

From there, you can find countless examples of courageous leadership provided by Republicans. It was the GOP that worked to pass the Thirteenth Amendment, which outlawed slavery, the Fourteenth, which guaranteed equal protection under the law, and the Fifteenth, which helped secure voting rights for blacks. The Republican Party also played a leading role in securing women the right to vote. In 1896, Republicans were the first major party to favor women's suffrage. When the 19th Amendment finally was added to the Constitution, 26 of 36 state legislatures that had voted to ratify it were under Republican control. The first woman elected to Congress was a Republican, Jeanette Rankin from Montana in 1917.

The Republican Party is the party of Ronald Reagan, who fired the air traffic controllers, called the Soviet Union the Evil Empire and told Gorbachev to "tear down this wall." We are the party of Newt Gingrich who crafted the "contract with America" and passed all ten items in the House in the first 100 days. This is the party of George W. Bush who called North Korea and Iran "the axis of evil" and kept us safe for seven years. And now, the best we can do is "be moderate"?

Unfortunately, we have done no better at the state level in recent years. We have failed as a Republican caucus to stay united and hold firm on taxes, spending, expansion of government and unbridled growth of union-led government schools. And we wonder why we keep losing seats?

I believe that Republican and independent voters are looking for courage and consistency in their candidates. They have grown weary of elected officials who fail to keep their commitments because they are weak in the knees, lacking the intestinal fortitude to follow through on the promises they made while running for office.

Legislators should spend less time thinking about their next election and more time standing for the principles of the Republican Party even if it means losing. In doing so, those legislators will blaze a trail of truth and conviction that will ultimately lead to victory for a new generation of principled candidates who will then have the mandate to carry out the real Republican agenda.

Meanwhile, Republicans in the Michigan House and the Senate need to circle the wagons and stand for something. I would encourage the House members (who are in a 67-43 seat minority) with something Samuel Adams said, "It does not take a majority to prevail ... but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men."

Tell me what you think. Feel free to e-mail me at JackForChair@gmail.com.

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