Ten conservative essentials for the Republican comeback

By John Andrews (andrewsjk@aol.com) The election was ugly, but our party has been through worse and come back stronger. We can do so again.

Losses in statewide races and the legislature, at the county level, and with the Democrats taking Congress, all stung. Never mind, we can take it. We’re Republicans. We don’t melt in the rain. America needs what our party has to give, and we’re not about to let her down.

The November 7 outcome raises several questions: What did the voters say? What did Republicans do wrong? What did Democrats do right? What’s the silver lining? And what must we do to win next time?

My answers: Voters said they wanted better stewardship of government’s awesome powers. Republicans forgot our identity and failed in our stewardship. Democrats were ready when opportunity knocked. But we needed this setback to break some bad habits. With a better vision, we’ll rebound.

George Washington, our exemplar of peace through strength, limited government, and civic virtue, was clearly a Republican in spirit. He led the founders with a vision that was anything but poll-driven, proclaiming:

“If to please the people, we offer what we ourselves disapprove, how can we afterwards defend our work? Let us raise a standard to which the wise and honest can repair. The event is in the hand of God.”

The spirit we need as the party of America’s founders – or the conservative party, which is synonymous – is summed up in ten essentials: principle, piety, prudence, unity, vigilance, optimism, humility, gratitude, ferocity, and backbone.

Of course our issues and message, strategy and tactics, political mechanics and money are all important. Strong candidates, comity between right and center, balance between economic and social values – these are important too.

But all of this will follow if our party stays true to the essentials. Taking the time-tested attitudes of the founders for our standard as Republicans, we can regain public trust and earn victory in 2008.

1. Principle. Because human nature is a constant, limited government is too.

2. Piety. Unless our rights and liberties come from God, they are illusory.

3. Prudence. Free societies bend to circumstance and avoid utopianism.

4. Unity. If you don’t win you don’t govern. Zealotry guarantees minority status.

5. Vigilance. Enemies and evil are real. Protection is government’s first duty.

6. Optimism. The party of hope and possibility usually prevails.

7. Humility. Know our limits as imperfect people in an imperfect world.

8. Gratitude. We’re the heirs of a precious tradition, standing on the shoulders of giants.

9. Ferocity. America is absolutely worth fighting for and dying for. Send us!

10. Backbone. We’re Republicans. We don’t melt in the rain or fold under pressure.

One party, ours, is more protective of America in a dangerous world, more confident in Americans to choose freely, and more proud of America without apologies.

We are the natural governing majority for this era of 9/11, just as George Washington and his fellow patriots were for the era of 1776. Our comeback starts today.