On top of all its other misdeeds, the Obama administration is now figuring out an authoritarian means to seize American companies, and what we don’t need is Republicans saying yup, yup, bickering among themselves or hiding in the weeds.
What we need is an effective opposition party, a group that won’t read recent election results as an excuse to desert principle, but that will do its best to stop, slow down or at least incisively dissect economically dangerous, freedom-restricting policies pushed by Democrats now in power.
If the Republicans aren’t up to this challenge — if they are incapacitated by divisiveness, incompetence or simple lack of conviction — maybe it’s time they learned about the Whigs, an American party that did considerable good in its 23 years of existence, but could not come to terms with the overriding question of the day.
That question was the extension of slavery into the territories. Some Whigs were for it, some where against, many were for compromise, a mish-mash that got the country nowhere near solution. So there came a new party, the Republicans, and for president they nominated a former Whig, Abraham Lincoln, and we had decisiveness.
Republicans have been a major political force ever since then, with some bad days, to be sure, but with resilience, too, and some great successes. Supposing they might easily be pushed out of the way by some third group is to forget that even Teddy Roosevelt and his formidable Bull Moose Party could not get that job done.
Third parties don’t ordinarily go far in this country, and their adherents may often sway elections even further from their ultimate political desires. Roosevelt’s third party campaign helped elect Democrat Woodrow Wilson, after all, and a case could be made that a strenuous third-party effort today would do more to strengthen the Democrats than weaken them.
But these are not ordinary times, this is not an ordinary administration and it is not an ordinary Congress. There are two major questions, the first of which is an economic crisis the Democrats are trying to meet through extreme spending and plans for more in a wild-and-crazy budget on top of tens of trillions owed in unfunded liabilities to entitlement programs.
We are faced with a cap-and-trade carbon tax, redistributionist ambitions, socialized medicine, the end of secret ballots in union elections, the destruction of the auto industry, grotesquely inefficient "green" energy policies, the nationalizing of industries, the curtailing of free speech, new education entitlements, more regulation, hyperinflation and government so powerful as to make the founders’ dream go poof.
The other issue is terrorism, which is a word President Obama’s minions mostly avoid using even as they have managed to insult our foremost ally, Britain, and caused the Russians to snicker at us while thinking about sending bombers into Cuba and Venezuela. Iran is marching ahead with its nuclear ambitions, North Korea is about to test another missile, Pakistan’s government looks shaky and NATO success in Afghanistan seems further away every day.
In responding to all the above, Republicans, first off, have a credibility problem — their spendthrift habits when in charge of Congress — and have sometimes seemed lost, as when some Republican senators helped in passage of a rush-job, hopelessly flawed stimulus bill that some Republican governors have embraced.
They have had moments of forceful lucidity, and they continue to have a number of admirable leaders, but if that lucidity is too often muddled, maybe some of those most able leaders would sign onto some new, emerging, decisive party that hangs onto most conservatives (34 percent of the population) and picks up something more than half of the moderates (44 percent), not so crazy a proposition if the Democrats continue to find a home in clearly irresponsible politics and fringe philosophies.
(Jay Ambrose, formerly Washington director of editorial policy for Scripps Howard newspapers and the editor of dailies in El Paso, Texas, and Denver, is a columnist living in Colorado. He can be reached at SpeaktoJay(at)aol.com.)