Looking for Conservative Leadership in Congress?
Senator DeMint answers whether or not the GOP is still lost:
A year ago we were coming off a stinging defeat at the polls. There was a strong debate within the Party about why we lost so badly. Some argued that the electoral rebuke was a direct result of the war in Iraq, which at the time was not going well. Many who made this argument felt that there were no other significant factors in our loss. In other words, they felt that absent the war in Iraq, the Republican Party would have been just fine and therefore we should change nothing about our Party and just hope for good news in Iraq.Preach on my brother!
Others, like those of us on this panel, argued that there was something much bigger going on. We argued that the Party had forsaken the principles on which it was founded. We looked around and we saw the seeds of our own destruction all around us.
Skyrocketing federal spending, unprecedented growth in the size of government, a failure to address the looming entitlement crisis and the shameless proliferation of congressional earmarks were all hallmarks of Republican rule in Washington. It was no wonder that we lost.
One reason I think we are still lost is that those of us who saw these warning signs ahead of time have still not convinced a majority of our colleagues to see things our way. That said, we are making some progress.
Many of us here have paid special attention to the congressional earmarking process this year because we believe that it has been a root cause of our downfall. After all, if Republicans cannot be responsible with the little things like earmarks, how are we going to address the big problems facing the nation?
But it isn’t just on the fiscal front that we have fallen short. Conservatives believe that the Republican Party succeeds as a coalition. We believe in the three-legged stool of limited government, national defense and traditional American values. We need to get back to that third leg of the stool.
Since the 1970s evangelicals and faith-based voters have cast their lot with the Republican Party. These voters, of which I am one, have put their trust in the Republican Party to do everything in its power to end the legalized killing of the unborn. They have trusted us to defend the sanctity of marriage. And, just as important, they have trusted us to preserve the basic family unit, because they understand that strong families make strong nations.
Without a proper emphasis on the role of the family in our society, we are missing a huge part of the puzzle. It is families that instill character in our young ones. It is families that provide stability and structure as children grow into active citizens.
Now, many voters are looking around and feeling a cultural slide. They are feeling again under attack from forces that they cannot control. Whether it be the elites in academia who preach absolute moral equivalence or the mainstreamers in Hollywood pedaling a degrading product, folks are feeling as if they are under assault. Conservatives need to do a better job of leading in this regard.
I still have an unshakeable belief that at their core, the American people are conservative. The problem in Washington, and in our Party in particular, is that we have stopped listening. As conservatives, I believe it is important that we remain optimistic about the future of the country and our Party.
Remember, President Lincoln understood that he could win the Civil War while losing every battle. He and Grant understood that in the end it was a game of numbers. Not only was their cause Just and True, it was backed by numbers.
Our cause today is Just and True and we have the numbers to make it happen. We just need to stay focused on our principles and remain persistent. Our beliefs are sufficient to lead this country and our Party as we go forward.
Bonus video: Newt at CPAC - A Conservative Declaration of Independence