No More Profiles in Caution: A Commentary By Tony Blankley: Republicans Should Not Be Shy And Should Catch A Historic Wave

Below is another affirmation of what I have been shouting about. Lately, including in a recent post recommending assertive opposition to any activist nominee to replace Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, I have been saying that the political winds are changing and the historical Republican reticence is not at the moment justified. Here Blankley, who has also watched and participated in this tendency, says exactly the same thing.

Before discussing more about this, I want to emphasize that the important issue is certainly not any vindication of me, but the urgency that everyone and all of their friends communicate this message to their legislators, especially often older Senators with broader constituencies. This is an instinct that must be shaken and thumped out like the last drops of a bottle of ketchup. Let me explain what I’m talking about.

Why does this instinct cling so stubbornly in many Republican politicians? Let’s use the typical U.S. Senator as a prototype. Because they often graduate from successful careers in The House of Representatives or other fields, these Senators are usually over 50 and often political veterans. They also were not elected by appealing to a more homogeneous House district but to a broader statewide constituency. Though overall, Texas is relatively conservative, it is a large and broad constituency, indeed. Now, let me speak as an over-50 lifetime observer who has spent the past 15-20 years slogging in the Texas Republican Party.

During and after Reagan, Texas transitioned from a largely Democrat to a largely Republican dominated state. As was the case nationally, Republicans gained a majority via the expansion of the party to social conservatives, who by the early to mid 1990’s came to a majority in the party, dominating the Platform and Rules development. This occasioned some ambivalence in the function of the party. While social conservatives dominated the Platform and Rules processes, party leaders found themselves balancing those interests with the interest of appeasing large donors and media to whom they dreaded projecting an image that might be portrayed as “extreme.” I recall in ’96, the conservative majority shuffling out at the end of the state convention in San Antonio wondering what had happened. What had happened was that they had been shuffled around with a parliamentary and procedural dance. And in 1998 in Ft. Worth, I went armed with flyers warning of the heterodoxies of a few high-profile Republicans. I was quickly informed that an office would have to approve the distribution, which was denied: disharmony, you know.

Blankley speaks of the long tradition among Republican politicians of abandoning constitutional principles to offer a heresy more conservative than what the Democrats were offering. I long spoke of the momentary pause of a Republican politician calculating a suitable answer to a challenge about Republican denial of a benefit to this group or that. It is true that media and education instilled an easy acquiescence among the American people to unconstitutional and counter-productive “solutions” to social distresses. And Blankley acknowledges that such political accommodation was understandable.

HOWEVER, he is saying just as I have, that we are now in an unprecedented place in contemporary politics. For people who cut their political teeth on political dancing, old habits can die hard. But, it is not only the virtuous choice, I think today it is the politically wise choice, to stand up for The Constitution and American principle. Obama and these democrats are wreaking unparalleled damage upon America and we are in financial dire straits. But, the actions and their implications have been so dramatic as to wake the proverbial sleeping giant. Americans have actually run to The Constitution and our founding principles and know that there’s a problem. It is not business-as-usual. We are seeing and going to see history, and escaping these problems won’t be easy. But Republicans should seize history and carry the banner of American principle.

Restoring American principle is the only possible way, and we should challenge the American people to follow it. This is not the day when we want to be a paler shade of the other side’s color. We are in a cave. We should shine the light out front and lead. Republican office-holders should lose the old habits and raise the objective standard that Americans are looking for. Chin up and chest out, speaking strong and clear. If Republicans can’t seize this opportunity, there’s no hope for them. And there’s probably no hope for America.


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