Rule One: First you win, then you make policy.
Rule Two: If the winner doesn’t make good policy, replace him or her in the next election.
Too often, right-of-center Americans, who mirror more than 40 percent of the country, let themselves be divided by single issues over forming coalitions where there is existing agreement.
The GOP has allowed the internecine fight between the more conservative wing of the Republican Party and its centrists to be publicly defined by the left and the liberal media. We see headlines of Tea Party versus establishment, RINO versus conservatives, and too often, like political lemmings, we run blindly over the cliff shouting our respective positions.
This is no one else’s fault but our own.
Agreement rarely if ever exists 100 percent on all issues. How often do the members of a family, for example, agree with one another 100 percent of the time? How then can we expect a nation of more than 300 million people to agree on every single issue? Freedom necessarily carries with it the reality of disagreement in some form.
It’s time to look at the bigger picture. We conservatives who vote Republican have more in common with one another than we do with the party marching toward European socialism under the Obama administration. If he’s successful, and he has been over the last five years to a great degree, President Obama will leave office with an America bound tighter by big government and burgeoning bureaucracies.
There are three areas that will be especially important for the GOP in 2014: spending, social issues and diversity.
Like many Americans, I’m disappointed by the lack of action on our spending problem. The GOP can’t depend on the federal government and Congress. The states have to be more responsible and work with their federal counterparts, and in some cases force their federal counterparts, to do the right thing. Between now and the elections in November, the House under GOP control must exercise its power of the purse and control spending wherever possible. These changes must be systemic and structural. Legislation alone won’t do it.
Social issues, on the other hand, matter to some but not all voters. For the upcoming elections, Republicans need to enforce a moratorium on these issues, as Democrats are able to use them as a wedge against Republicans with likely voters. Roe v. Wade, for example, will likely never be overturned. If conservatives want to reduce the rate of abortion, we must find every means necessary, via education, contraception, parental involvement, to reduce the number of pregnancies. As you lower the number of pregnancies, you lower the need for abortions — there’s your free-market approach.
On the subject of diversity, it seems as though every time GOP leadership in Congress changes, its strategy and tactics change as well. And the GOP wonders why it isn’t working. Its approach has to be local, on policy first and consistent for years to be effective. Republicans need to quit pandering during election cycles, as the party’s done with the black community for years, and get engaged on issues like the economy, energy policy, domestic and national security and more. These issues and others matter to all Americans, whether they be minorities, women, LGBT or nondescript.
This is basic but important. In our representative republic, the will of the people is put into action via vetting and voting. During the primaries, we choose our candidates. This is where the real public debate occurs over who is the best candidate for the party, over who reflects our values most. And it’s here where conservatives run into trouble.
Our separate coalitions often don’t do a good job of uniting under a common goal. Too many times I hear people shout “I’m voting my principles.” Principles are important, but remember Rule One. First you win, then you make policy. If we don’t unite where we have agreement against the left, when we have significant disagreement on public policy, we lose, and the country loses as a whole.
It is incumbent, then, on party leaders and on citizens to find and run qualified candidates who fall under the umbrella of conservatism. We must take the time to examine the policy record of candidates for office, and the context of our decisions in the grand scheme, to help determine the viability of each political contender. If we can do this dispassionately, we can find common ground and succeed.
But let’s not forget Rule Two: If the winner doesn’t make good policy, we can replace that person in the next election.
Webb is host of The David Webb Show on SiriusXM Patriot 125, is a Fox News contributor and has appeared frequently on television as a commenter. Webb co-founded TeaParty365 in New York City and is a spokesman for the National Tea Party Federation. His column will appear twice a month in The Hill.