Monday, December 10, 2012

The Republican Party is dead. Long live the Republican Party.

The defeat of Mitt Romney for President and the reelection of Barack Obama, on the heels of the 2008 defeat of John McCain, preceded by the popular vote defeat of George W. Bush in 2004, has finally convinced me that the Grand Old Party is not so grand anymore.

The Republican Party is in need of some creative destruction. Minnesota Republicans are leading the way in this evolutionary process, even in the face of powerful opposition from their own party. In 2008, supporters of Texas Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX14) elbowed their way into the Minnesota precinct caucuses like a couple of Obama party crashers, much to the chagrin of longtime activists.

In 2012, Minnesota Paul supporters turned from party crashers into the party planners.

Led by Marianne Stebbins, the Minnesota delegation to the Republican National Convention voted 33 of its 40 votes for Ron Paul. "I don’t think Mitt Romney is a strong candidate," said Stebbins in the Eagan Patch. "He represents old ideas and what the party has stood for over the last couple of decades, which is not necessarily what the voters want."

It's not just a small group of Ron Paul gadflies who are working for change. Minnesota, Land of 10,000 Taxes, is also home to the Minnesota Liberty Caucus. numerous TEA Party groups, bloggers, Atlas Shrugged book and movie groups, and even small groups of BPOU activists meeting at social events publicized on Facebook.

They are disillusioned at big business joining the Democrats and labor unions in lobbying for ever more government spending. Some Republicans declined to campaign for the Marriage Amendment and either voted No or abstained (which are both counted as "No" votes). Local (now syndicated) radio commentator Jason Lewis was one of the first so-called conservatives to publicly question our country's long and expensive military interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The labels of Republican and Democrat, or even conservative/no-new-taxes and liberal/progressive/tax-the-rich, are largely meaningless in this brave new political world. The real line in the sand separates libertarians and statists, those who promote liberty and equal opportunity versus those who believe in elite, bureaucratic government control and equal outcomes. These are issues that can challenge traditional party loyalties.

As Kurt Bills pointed out in his statesmanlike concession speech, Republicans must espouse its messages to voters that it has traditionally conceded to the Democrats. "If we don't become the party of addition and multiplication, we will become the party of subtraction and division."

To quote Thomas Paine, "These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph."

Republicans have a lot of work and soul-searching to do if they want to avoid becoming a permanent minority party.

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