The GOP’s Identity Crisis

July 1, 2013

As one who supports traditional values and a conservative political agenda, I’m more worried about the right wing’s erosion of resolve and moral courage than I am about the left’s relentless assault on our values and ideas.

Surely, no one can dispute that the political left has been tirelessly chipping away at America’s foundational values for years and ruthlessly demonizing conservatives. But if Republicans truly believed in themselves and fought with the same conviction as Democrats, it would be a different story.

One might attribute the attrition of America’s foundational institutions to the political application of the laws of entropy. Things just have a natural tendency to descend into chaos. Great empires and great nations can’t last forever. But it has to be more than that. When those who claim to want to preserve this nation’s greatness all but throw in the towel, the destructive process can’t help but accelerate.

How can a political party remain viable when many of its leaders are obviously ashamed of major parts of its platform? When its leaders validate negative stereotypes by promising to change?

When he was running for his first presidential term, George W. Bush said that he was a “compassionate conservative” and that he wouldn’t balance the budget “on the backs of the poor.” As much as I admire President Bush, I regret those statements, as they communicated the false message that ordinary conservatives aren’t compassionate and that we don’t have a heart for the downtrodden.

Some of Bush’s former advisers are still wagging their fingers at conservatives today for their alleged mean-spiritedness on many issues, including immigration, urging them to be more winsome or loving — or something, anything but conservative.

Regrettably, Republican National Chairman Reince Priebus told Latinos in Chicago that Republicans have reshaped their outreach. “In America, it doesn’t matter where you come from; it matters where you’re going,” said Priebus.

What? The Republican Party has always stood for equal opportunity and articulated a nondiscriminatory, pro-growth message. Why would the party’s leader thus validate Democratic slanders portraying the GOP as nativist?

Why couldn’t he have said instead, “Democrats will tell you that we don’t care about Hispanics, but the truth is we care about all people, and our policies are geared toward unleashing robust opportunities for all, irrespective of race, ethnicity and gender”?

Every day, we see examples of liberals painting Republicans as uncompassionate, racist, sexist and homophobic, with precious little blowback from our side. In the face of liberal propaganda, many Republicans are frozen into silence. Others are affirmatively apologetic for the embarrassing “extremists” in the party, who are anything but.

This self-hatred that characterizes a substantial segment of the party has real consequences. Consider the stunning reversal in popular support for same-sex marriage, from 30 percent in 2004 to 53 percent today.

Do you really believe that many people have changed their minds about an important issue overnight or, if so, that they have done it after deep soul-searching?

Isn’t it more likely a result of the right’s failure to stand up to the left’s constant bullying and its depiction of those who oppose same-sex marriage as anti-gay rather than as those who believe in the importance of preserving traditional marriage as a foundational societal institution?

If Republicans had been affirming their beliefs with confidence and unity, would Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy have been as likely to twist the Constitution into an inedible pretzel to invalidate the Defense of Marriage Act and, worse, to disgracefully castigate traditional marriage proponents as manifesting a “desire to harm a politically unpopular group”?

Of course not. Through its silence and moral cowardice, the GOP has given a green light to those in positions of power to obliterate societal pillars and personally vilify those who dare defend them.

In or out of power, Republicans seem always to be on the defensive, effectively apologizing for a) their insistence on securing the nation’s borders — assuring everyone they’re not racist — b) their opposition to Obamacare, pleading with people not to believe they don’t care about those falling through the cracks, c) the so-called pro-life extremists instead of properly asserting the moral high ground as defenders of the innocent unborn, and d) those in the party who refuse to cower to liberals who deify junk science about man-made global warming instead of taking it to Obama for trampling conventional energy sources and the economy in allegiance to their superstitions.

Democrats are the ones who should be on the defensive today, having destroyed the economy, bankrupted the nation, undermined our national defenses, made an incoherent mess of our foreign policy, sabotaged our health care system, polarized the nation and assaulted our religious liberty, the Constitution and the rule of law. But you never see them even considering apologizing for who they are and what they stand for.

Democrats never lack moral courage, even in defense of immoral positions. Republicans are terrified of their own shadow; until they relearn how to be comfortable in their own skin, their troubles will continue.