In the aftermath of Mitt Romney’s disastrous content-free campaign and the establishment GOP’s defeat in a number of Senate races, Tea Partiers and small government constitutional conservatives are asking, “what do we do next?”
My answer is that we have to step-up our efforts to take over the Republican Party.
Right now, the establishment GOP is reeling from Romney’s defeat and the failure of their leadership is obvious: this is the time to make the case for new leadership.
Of course, it would be great if we could start with the failed national Republican leaders, such as Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Prebus and Congressional leaders John Boehner and Mitch McConnell -- who should all resign, as they do in parliamentary governments after a defeat of this magnitude.
However, our two-party system allows them to cling to power even when they fail, so we have to start from the bottom up.
And that means YOU have to take the initiative to lead in this vital effort.
The first thing you can do is to identify and recruit quality people to get involved and join you in the effort.
There’s an old bit of political wisdom that says, “You can’t beat someone with no one.”
Perhaps the most important contribution you can make to the takeover of the Republican Party is to encourage small government constitutional conservatives to run for office.
The only way we can change the Republican leadership in Washington and our state capitols is by electing small government constitutional conservatives to office, and then training and positioning them to rise to leadership positions.
Sitting around complaining about the state of the Party isn’t going to get the job done.
You have to find small government constitutional conservative candidates to run in the Republican primary elections – against establishment Republican incumbents if necessary – and then support them in their campaigns.
We also have to get small government constitutional conservatives more involved in the Republican Party organization.
If you know someone who was a real star volunteer during the campaign, you should encourage them to get involved in their local Republican Party committee.
To do this, you must also get to know your local Republican Party officials. Are they small government constitutional conservatives or establishment-type Republicans?
If they are establishment Republicans -- or if they are friendly, but ineffective -- now is the time to make the case for new leadership.
Many Republican Committees will re-organize and elect new officers now that the election is over. If you are a precinct committeeman or committeewoman, now is the moment of decision if you have ever considered running for County Chairman or some other party organization office.
If you are not already involved in your local GOP, then now is the time to get involved.
There may be vacancies in the local precinct organization and you should volunteer to fill that important role -- or help recruit sound people to fill that basic building block of a successful Party.
Finally, you can help knock down the idea that small government constitutional conservatives should bolt the Republican Party for one of the third parties.
There is a peculiar tendency for libertarians and constitutionalists to turn on anyone who works to change the Republican Party from within and that tendency has reared its ugly head again in the aftermath of the Romney debacle.
This is not really a new phenomenon – it has been going on since the 1950s, when William F. Buckley, Jr. began arguing that conservatives should take over the Republican Party and others, such as author Ayn Rand, argued for a separate movement.
The result of following the Buckley strategy has been the fairly steady advance – with occasional halts – of conservative ideas and the election of many conservative-minded candidates by the Republican Party.
On the other hand, Libertarians, while they have gained some recognition and added to their numbers, haven’t actually been electing candidates.
Congressman Ron Paul, the premier spokesman for Libertarian ideals, acknowledged this when he said if he had run as a Libertarian, no one would have listened to his ideas. By running for Congress and President as a Republican, however, Congressman Paul has pushed the GOP to become more Libertarian -- particularly on economic issues -- and Paul was able to see some of his ideas incorporated in this year's Republican Platform.
Unlike those running as Libertarians, many of Ron Paul's supporters whom he inspired to run for office as Republicans have been elected and are now making a difference in Congress and the state capitols.
Yes, the defeat of 2012 was frustrating, and frankly scary for the future of our country, but conservatives have been steadily working the plan envisioned by “the Buckley generation” for over 50 years. We have made great progress in the Republican Party, and more importantly, in public opinion at large. Now is not the time to give up, now is the time redouble our efforts to sell small government constitutional principles through a new generation of leaders, just as we did in 1980, 1994 and 2010.