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Why We Must (Gently) Disagree With Rich and Ramesh

Lowry and Ponnuru

A week or so ago two conservative writers we admire greatly, Rich Lowry, editor of National Review and Ramesh Ponnuru, a senior editor for National Review, published an interesting article entitled “Establishment Tea, The GOP is coming together, not apart.
In their piece Lowry and Ponnuru posit that a synthesis between the “tea party” and “establishment” wings of the Republican Party is emerging and they cite as examples of this synthesis the victories or defeats of various candidates supported or opposed by the two “wings” of the Republican Party.
We think one of the flaws in the analysis put forth in “Establishment Tea” is the notion that the tensions in the Republican Party that are now manifest in the tea party vs. establishment “civil war” began with the rise of the tea party movement in 2009.
As author and Chairman Richard A. Viguerie documents in his new book TAKEOVER, those tensions have been part of the dynamics of Republican politics for over 100 years. They began in 1912 when former President Teddy Roosevelt challenged President William Howard Taft for the Republican nomination for President and then bolted the GOP when he lost at the Republican National Convention in Chicago.
Teddy Roosevelt’s progressivism became the governing philosophy of the Republican elite, who conveniently forgot to tell the average grassroots Republican voter that they had no intention of actually delivering on, or fighting for the limited government constitutional conservative ideas held by most Republican voters.
The result of this deception was a series of Republican presidential candidates, and Presidents, from Alf Landon, who backed Teddy Roosevelt’s Progressive Party in 1912, to the GOP candidate in 1940, Wendell L. Wilkie (a former Democrat who had been a pro-Roosevelt delegate to the 1932 Democratic National Convention), to Presidents Dwight Eisenhower and Richard Nixon, who all seemed to view Big Government as sometimes wasteful and inefficient, but not wrong.
A few principled conservative leaders at the national level were prepared to oppose the growth of government and the welfare state and oppose it as not just inefficient, but immoral, no matter which Party was behind it.
Senator Robert Taft, Senator Barry Goldwater, then-Governor Ronald Reagan and other leaders less remembered today, such as Rep. John Ashbrook, fought for conservative principles and against Eisenhower and Nixon’s “Modern Republicanism,” policies that Goldwater derisively referred to as a “dime store New Deal.”
This battle, which rent the Republican Party from the 1950s through 1980, saw progressive Republicans actively work for the defeat of conservative Barry Goldwater in the 1964 general election and defeat conservative Ronald Reagan in the 1968 and 1976 Republican National Conventions.
Big Government Republicans backed Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald R. Ford who imposed wage and price controls, created the EPA and funded the vast expansion of the federal government necessary to implement Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society welfare state.
In 1980 Ronald Reagan ran as an unabashed conservative. He welded all of the grassroots discontents with the national leadership of the Republican Party into a winning coalition in the Republican primaries and defeated his Big Government Republican opponents, including establishment Republican Senator Howard Baker and former Congressman, Ambassador and CIA Director George H.W. Bush.
Some will argue, as Karl Rove has, that the election of Ronald Reagan ended the battle between Big Government Republicans and limited government conservatives:  You won, Rove said to conservatives.
The reality, as Reagan’s diaries reveal, was that the battle fought between Big Government Republicans and limited government constitutional conservatives was not resolved by Reagan’s 1980 election. Throughout his presidency Reagan was forced to refight the issues that grassroots conservative voters thought they settled when they gave him two landslide victories.
As Mr. Viguerie wrote in TAKEOVER, some of the early entries in Reagan’s diary for 1982 illustrate the problem:
Jan. 11
Republican House leaders came down to the W.H. Except for Jack Kemp they are
h—l bent on new taxes and cutting the defense budget. Looks like a heavy year ahead

Feb. 23
Met this a.m. with our [Republican] Congressional leaders. They are really antsy about the deficit and seem determined that we must retreat on our program—taxes and defense spending. Yet they seem reluctant to go for the budget cutting we’ve asked for.

Sound familiar?
That’s because, in Reagan’s time, as it is today, the first impediment that needed to be overcome before we could govern America according to conservative principles was not the Democrats; it was Big Government Republicans, such as House Minority Leader Bob Michael, and Senators Howard Baker, Charles Percy and Bob Dole.
If the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980 didn’t settle the civil war in the Republican Party in favor of limited government constitutional conservatives, perhaps the election of the Contract with America Congress in 1994 and the subsequent election of “compassionate conservative” President George W. Bush in 2000 would.
Not a chance.
During the George W. Bush administration, and with a Republican Congress, the size of the federal government increased at a faster rate than at any time since President Lyndon Baines Johnson and the Great Society. The Bush years were responsible for a near doubling of the federal budget and set the stage for the unprecedented spending of President Barack Obama and the Pelosi–Reid Congress that followed.
As a result of the abandonment of conservative principles by President George W. Bush and the Capitol Hill Republicans, on Election Day 2006 more than 65 percent of voters told a pollster they believed that “the Republicans used to be the party of economic growth, fiscal discipline, and limited government, but in recent years, too many Republicans in Washington have become just like the big spenders they used to oppose.”
Having thus diluted their brand as limited government conservatives, Republicans were wiped out in the 2006 midterm elections; there was a swing of six seats in the U.S. Senate and thirty-one seats in the House of Representatives.
Many moderate and Big Government Republican House members, such as Nancy Johnson, Jim Leach, Anne Northup, Jeb Bradley, Charles Bass, and Sue Kelly, were defeated, demonstrating as Viguerie noted in TAKEOVER, that being “Democrats-lite” was no protection from the wrath of voters fed up with George W. Bush and his principle-free party on Capitol Hill.
Even though the tea party wave election of 2010 returned them to the majority, Republican congressional leaders quickly forgot the lesson of 2006 and reverted to type; growing government, increasing spending and by and large refusing to fight for the principles upon which their new majority was built.
In their article “Establishment Tea” Lowry and Ponnuru express their opposition to the continuation of the civil war within the Republican Party and they hope that other conservatives share their enthusiasm for the notion that “Both wings of the party are, in fits and starts, converging on a new synthesis.”
When Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell gets a $2.1 billion earmark in the Continuing Resolution Debt Limit bill and vows to crush the tea party movement and Senator Thad Cochran wins renomination only by corruptly recruiting Democrats to vote in the Mississippi Republican Senate primary we don’t see “a new synthesis,” we see Big Government Republicanism at its power hungry worst.
The Capitol Hill leaders of today’s Republican Party never seem to learn that going along with Big Government policies is exactly what gets Republicans thrown out of office and relegated to the status of the powerless minority they were from the beginning of the New Deal until the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980.
The “civil war” in the Republican Party didn’t start with the rise of the tea party movement in 2009 – for over 100 years, the Republican establishment, while often talking a good game, has been complicit in the spending, deficit, and debt and in the creation of all of those Big Government programs that conservatives oppose.
Fifty years ago the “Buckley generation” of the conservative movement set out to make the Republican Party the political home of limited government constitutional conservatives. Their vision will only be realized when the Republican Party has new leadership, leadership unfettered to the old Capitol Hill insiders and their policies of Big Government Republicanism. The current “civil war” in the Republican Party that Lowry and Ponnuru decry is merely the latest, perhaps the penultimate battle in that long war.
Sorry Rich and Ramesh, I’m afraid we here at must (gently) disagree that “a new synthesis” is advisable or even possible.  As Richard Viguerie observed in TAKEOVER, for 100 years we conservatives have had our political guns trained on the wrong targets. We were fighting the Democrats, when the greatest impediments to governing America according to conservative principles are the Big Government Republicans.
As we see it, conservatives are now closer to winning this 100-year battle for the soul of the GOP than we were when Ronald Reagan was elected President. Now is the time for limited government constitutional conservatives to contest every primary and every election for precinct committeeman. Now is not the time to engage in wishful thinking about a “new synthesis” that will only act to keep Big Government Republicans like Mitch McConnell, Thad Cochran and Lamar Alexander in power to continue the policies we conservatives oppose.


George Rasley is editor of Richard Viguerie's A veteran of over 300 political campaigns, he served on the staff of Vice President Dan Quayle and as a staffmember or consultant to some of America’s most recognized conservative political figures. He is a member of American MENSA.

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Defeat RINOs

Members of the Tea Party should show their strength. For example, apparently, Democrats gave Thad Cochran the victory in the Mississipi primary so he is the Democrat’s second choice. If we are going to have a liberal Democrat representing Mississippi in the Senate, he may as well have a D after his name. Mississippi conservatives and Tea Partiers should vote for the Democrat, Travis Childers, in the general election. We will still take the Senate. Even if we didn’t unless we get 66 seats, which we won’t, we will just have Obama vetoing bills rather than Reid. Cochran will be an unreliable partner at best. VOTE HIM OUT! We can elect Senator Chris McDaniel in 2020!

RINO and Tea Party Synthesis"

Excellent post, Mr. Rasley! You took the NRO crew apart here!

The reality is that we have three parties in this country - the Democrats, the GOP Establishment, and the GOP grass roots. The Establishment has more in common with their Democrat friends than with us.

We cannot make any meaningful reform of the nation at large until we reform the GOP. As long as we have an enemy inside our walls. Sadly, the Establishment see US as the real danger to the Republic. They must be brought to heel.

Ramesh and Rich are sadly mistaken if they think a synthesis will work for any but the most limited amount of time. And the RINO side will never lay down their arms - just look at what Thad Cochran did to remain in power and deny the Tea Party a win.

We simply cannot keep looking at these people as friends; they are sometime-allies but there is no enduring bond of friendship. The sooner our side sees that the better off we will be.

Rich and Ramesh

Forget gently. How about vehemently object to their squishiness? The current recognition, by even the LSM, that there is something wrong on our borders, is even penetrating the fog created by the media, as more and more Americans see they have been sold down the the name of children from "other than Mexico." Adherence to our Constitution and limiting the big government policy vendors, has to be stopped, now.


elephant in the room!!!

Call it was it is! No one asks the right question...WHY! What is behind "big gov"? The open border? Obamacare? Federal gov usurping power that belongs to the states, etc. It's the drive for one world gov, the NWO, GLOBALISM. It's about central power, creating a police state.

Until the reality of what is going on, what the oligarchs who control what is happening behind the scene is addressed it's just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

National Review/Rockefeller Republicans

“One of the most curious publications to join the list of CFR interlocked journals is the ostensibly conservative magazine National Review. Although National Review has in the past claimed to be an opponent of the Eastern Liberal Establishment, it has never called attention the conspiratorial activities of the Rockefeller Dynasty- and, it fact, has bitterly ridiculed anyone who suggested that there were any conspiratorial wolves mixed in with the Liberal sheep. Many well-informed conservatives were puzzled by National Review’s refusal to consider the possibility that most of the liberal “mistakes” the magazine decried were actually carefully planned and deliberate acts; their bewilderment is bound to increase when they learn that editor-in-chief William F. Buckly,Jr., who has boasted of his personal friendship and warm admiration for such important insiders as Henry Kissinger , and who enthusiastically endorsed Nelson Rockefeller for Secretary of Defense, is himself a member of the Counsel on Foreign Relations.” Gary Allen

“The best way to control the opposition is to lead it ourselves.” Vladimir Lenin