Yesterday, Richard Viguerie, Chairman of ConservativeHQ.com, announced the “Liberty Prize,” a $10,000 prize for submission of the best plan or ideas for limited government constitutional conservatives to take over the Republican Party, win the 2016 elections and govern America in 2017.
Today, we can announce the results and interest in the Liberty Prize are already starting to flow in – and the reason is clear – grassroots conservative Republican voters are tired of losing elections because their leaders regularly fail to run on the principles and values that they, and the majority of Americans, believe in.
To us, the failure of Republican Party leaders to stand for and campaign on conservative principles means that the most important political battle in America is not between Republicans and Democrats or between conservatives and liberals. It is the battle for control of the Republican Party between establishment big government Republicans and limited government, constitutional conservatives.
And the election of 2012 holds many lessons that can help conservatives win this battle.
The first is proof of what Mr. Viguerie has been saying for many years: Republicans never, ever, win the presidency unless they nationalize the election by campaigning on a conservative agenda.
What we mean by nationalizing the election is to draw a sharp contrast between two world views. Think of the contrast Republicans drew with the liberal Democrat candidate’s view in 1980, 1984, 1988, 2000 and 2004, when we framed the campaign as a fight for traditional values, lower taxes, smaller, less intrusive government and respect for the individual and constitutional liberty.
Nationalizing the election isn’t an automatic guarantee of victory, but the “stand for nothing” strategy IS a guarantee of defeat. It didn’t work for President Ford’s 1976 campaign, it didn’t work for President George H.W. Bush’s re-election, it didn’t work for Bob Dole and John McCain, and it certainly didn’t work last year for Mitt Romney.
But it did work for conservative Senate candidates such as Ted Cruz, Deb Fisher and Jeff Flake who all campaigned as conservatives, had Tea Party movement backing and won.
Much as establishment Republicans will try to evade responsibility for the epic defeats of 2012 -- Mitt Romney and a long list of Senate candidates, such as Heather Wilson in New Mexico, Rick Berg in North Dakota, Denny Rehberg in Montana, Tommy Thompson in Wisconsin and George Allen in Virginia -- the onus for these defeats is on the Republican establishment and their decision to run a content-free campaign.
If we conservatives take away the right lessons from the 2012 election, the Tea Party movement and small government constitutional conservative movement will come away stronger.
And one of those important lessons that Tea Partiers and grassroots conservatives can take away from election 2012 is that leadership begins with you.
Thousands of volunteers who were never involved in politics prior to the rise of the Tea Party movement in 2009 have now been through two election cycles and received valuable training in campaign techniques and have acquired leadership experience – and also the cuts and bruises from being a leader on the front lines of a campaign.
Conservatives at the grassroots level have the ideas and principles, as well as the numbers, political skills, and talent to govern America, but unlike the liberals who control the Democratic Party, we conservatives don’t control the Republican Party.
Fixing that problem is the purpose of the Liberty Prize.
They – you – are ready for the next step: the takeover of the Republican Party by small government constitutional conservatives.
Now is the time for conservatives to step forward to demand a change in the Republican leadership, and to make that change happen one precinct committeeman and one county chairmanship at a time if necessary.
We’ve seen the results of letting the Republican establishment run the show and the Party top-down from Washington. As frustrated, disappointed and maybe even frightened of the future as you may be, now is the time for each of us to become the leaders we have been waiting for. A good start on your road to personal leadership would be to gather your like-minded friends, Tea Party or church group around your kitchen table to write and submit your plan for conservatives to take over the Republican Party and win the $10,000 Liberty Prize.