This OP ED by my friend Greg Moore (posted below by permission) is just part of what I see as the start of the second Reagan Revolution, the Conservatives taking back their rightful position in the heart and soul of the Republican Party.
Conservatives, now is your chance to take your party back
By GREG MOORE
Thursday, Nov. 6, 2008
“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls, and looks like work.”
– Thomas Edison
Tuesday’s election defeat was a bitter pill for many Republicans, who lost their last vestige of power in Washington. However, for many conservatives it was a watershed moment to regain political relevance after several years in the political wilderness.
For the past eight years, the same conservatives who were responsible for the Republican Revolution of 1994 have been biting their tongues and biding their time under GOP control that seemed committed to restoring the Era of Big Government.
Under President Bush, who brought “compassionate conservatism,” with its largest entitlement expansion in 40 years, massive federal control of our public schools, Sarbanes-Oxley and domestic discretionary spending that grew at three times the rate former President Clinton grew it, and a Republican Congress, headlined by former Majority Leader Tom Delay whose call for a “permanent Republican majority” was backed by thousands of pork-laden earmarks to buy off constituencies, the spirit of the Contract with America was crushed.
The final nail in the coffin was the $700 billion bailout of the financial sector. It was a loud exclamation point to how far away the Republican Party had slipped from its conservative moorings.
That’s why, while many Republicans are openly lamenting the loss of any control in Washington, many conservatives can be found sifting through the wreckage with grins on their faces.
Now the GOP has finished its bingeing and is ready to check into rehab. Conservatives finally have their voice, and maybe their party, back.
Stripped of power, Republicans must now return to winning the hearts and minds of the American public through the strength of ideas. This presents the chance to get back to the values that made Republicans the majority 14 years ago and to wash away the past few years that eroded the GOP brand of being the party of reform-minded, limited government.
The opportunities for Republicans abound if the party can get its message focused. The last two mid-term elections in which one party controlled both chambers of Congress and the presidency, 1994 and 2006, were transformative and shifted the balance of power in Washington. Compound this with a federal government run by Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and Barack Obama that will struggle to put any limits on a far-left agenda, and the conservative base will be as energized in 2010 as a toddler who just drank a double espresso.
It’s still not going to be easy to regain the trust of the people. Republicans need to recognize that simply blaming Democrats for the problems over the next two years won’t be enough. As in 1994, the party needs to commit to a real reform agenda and find leadership that can sell this message and draw back to the GOP voters sickened by the growth in Washington.
That means that the current status quo defenders must step aside and make way for true reformers, like Bob Michel did for Newt Gingrich and Dick Armey. The party needs messengers like Mike Pence, Paul Ryan and Jeff Flake in the House and Tom Coburn and Jim DeMint in the Senate to emerge and deliver a plan to restore an idea-driven, conservative agenda.
This plan has to include not just the fiscal conservative staples of balancing the budget and pro-growth tax cuts, but also must embrace innovative, free market solutions for health care, energy and education. It must also work to lift the massive — and likely rapidly increasing — burden of regulation on our business sector. The Republicans need to rebuild their brand completely by focusing on issues, not just politics.
While having the right message is critical, getting it to the public is just as important. Republicans need to embrace all forms of new media and move to the cutting edge of technology, where the GOP lags behind the curve. They should seek out Sen. Lamar Alexander, whose Republican Satellite Exchange Network in 1993 helped lay the foundation for huge gains the following year.
The mess that’s been made of conservatism over the past few years won’t be cleaned up overnight. Republicans need to put a whole lot of elbow grease into scrubbing to rebuild the public’s view and turn a negative brand back into a positive. It can be done.
The door is now open for the Republican Party to return to its conservative roots and become a majority party again. Will the party leaders have the brains and guts to walk through it?