by Randall H. Nunn
The Republican Party suffered a blow in the 2006 elections, losing control of both houses of Congress. Many have hoped that the party would analyze the results of that election and correct the problems before the 2008 elections. However, the signs thus far are not encouraging, as the party leadership seems fractured, indecisive and unsure of itself. Rather than trying to focus on core principles and representing the base that elected them, too many of the Republican leaders are pandering to interest groups and adjusting their positions based on polls and conventional wisdom as laid down by the mainstream media. As a result, a large segment of the Republican base is becoming even more frustrated and alienated from the leadership.
Much of the Republican base supports President Bush’s resolve in seeking victory in the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. That base would be energized if the administration was more effective in describing the reasons why victory in Iraq is critical and if it could more clearly explain why victory there is vital to our national interests. The primary reason why the United States is in Iraq is to further our national security interests, and not to bring democracy to Iraq or to replace the murderous regime of Saddam Hussein. President Bush’s initial positioning and justification for the war in Iraq was flawed and resulted in lack of commitment by many Americans to the successful prosecution of the war and a loss of the administration’s credibility. The purported rationalizations for the war were simply blurred. The administration’s current positioning is sharper and more focused on the security interests of this nation, but comes at a time when a number of Republican leaders are "straying" and further weakening the Bush administration at a very inopportune time.
Even though the Republican defections on the war in Iraq are eroding the administration’s strength at this critical juncture, there may be something more powerful and more insidious at work here. The Republican base has become angry and frustrated with the leadership’s inaction on issues that impact them daily and significantly and which result in the middle class shouldering more of the burden of the high cost of government while losing individual rights and economic security at the same time.
This feeling that the leadership of our government is out of touch with middle class America and governing much like the Democrat elites saps support for the administration at a time when it needs support most.
The Bush administration’s position on illegal immigration has hurt it tremendously and continues to inflict major damage. How does the administration expect to retain credibility for its efforts in the war on terror when the refusal to stop illegal immigration makes suspect all of the calls for more restrictions on law abiding Americans in the guise of promoting security? Should American citizens be made to carry a national ID card and have their records and conversations more easily exposed to federal government snooping when illegals can access many of our nation’s taxpayer-funded benefits without identification or accountability? The inconsistency of these positions is glaring—and it is insulting to the American middle class that is footing the bill. It is obvious to the base that illegal immigration is costing a huge amount, both in tax dollars and in negative cultural change. When President Bush disputes or downplays this, the base becomes more exasperated, and rightly so.
The failure of the administration to have any impact on Social Security reform or tax reform is another major irritant to the conservative base. If the administration could not effect any such reforms when it controlled both houses of Congress and The White House, why should the base expect any relief now that control has been lost? If the administration could not get more of its judicial appointees reviewed and confirmed when it controlled the legislative and executive branches, why should the base expect effective action now? To explain these failures by pointing to those in Congress who are Republicans in name only is disingenuous. Ronald Reagan worked with Congresses controlled by Democrats, yet the conservative agenda was advanced and the base always knew where President Reagan stood on issues. If the leadership of today’s Republican Party is not loyal to its base and true to its philosophy, why should that base remain loyal to the leadership?
Randall H. Nunn is a staff writer for the New Media Alliance, Inc. The New Media Alliance is a non-profit (501c3) national coalition of writers, journalists and grass-roots media outlets.