Emerging from a stormy 2016 when many conservatives questioned why we were Republicans at all, and heading into a perilous 2017 when Republican dominance could easily invite hubris, let’s pause a moment and go back to basics. Back to bedrock.
What’s so grand about this Grand Old Party of ours, this GOP? Simply this: For a century and a half, from the 1850s until today, no organization on earth – outside the church – has done so much for human freedom and human flourishing as the Republican Party of these United States.
That’s a statement of fact, not an exaggeration. I’m a Republican – and I hope you are too – because the GOP is the world’s indispensable institution for liberty. There’s not even a close second.
Think about it. Human hopes around the world depend on America above all. America depends on our Constitution. And the survival of our Constitution depends on this woefully flawed, wonderfully patriotic, doggedly persistent political party that Lincoln founded, TR and Reagan ennobled, and yes, Donald Trump now leads.
The party’s name says it all. You and I (and Trump and Pence and Ryan and McConnell) as Republicans are the guardians of this republic. We’re the keepers of the flame.
Democrats have a different vision. They want to reinvent America, or transform it, or perfect it. They want to abandon the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence and the Judeo-Christian principles of our founding.
If that were to happen, America would have lost its very soul. This would be a different country, demoralized and declining. All mankind would be the worse for it. The one bulwark against that fate is the Republican Party. What other bulwark is there? I know of none.
As trustees of the American heritage, there are certain core beliefs that we Republicans have championed over the past 160 years and that we need to keep fighting for now. Let me quickly outline ten of them.
1. Republicans defend limited government. Others think politics is salvation. We disagree. We stand for liberty.
2. Republicans defend civil society. We cherish the wide voluntary expanse of individual and community life where Caesar has no business interfering.
3. Republicans defend economic freedom. We understand, as Churchill put it, that free enterprise and private property produce abundance -- unequally shared, he admitted – but far preferable to collectivism, producing only misery equally shared.
4. Republicans defend constitutional government. That means political power restrained by the written charter that we the people alone can ratify or amend. Others want power in the hands of unelected judges and unaccountable bureaucrats. We say no.
5. Republicans insist on consent of the governed. Democrats prefer arbitrary arrogant regulation from deep inside the blob of the administrative state. We say hell no. We want our votes to count.
6. Republicans defend individual rights, equally endowed by our Creator. Democrats want group rights conferred by the state, with some groups more equal than others.
7. Republicans defend federalism. Liberals lust for centralization, but it’s a trap. Especially in a small state like Colorado, you and I don’t want to be marginalized in the Electoral College or the Senate or the police power or the social issues. Once again, hell no!
8. Republicans defend peace through strength. Others dream of disarmament or, worse yet, of humiliating this country for its supposed sins of the past. You and I know the world is safer when America is strong.
9. Related to that, Republicans recognize America’s basic goodness. Perfect? Of course not. Here’s the contrast, though: When you ask a Democrat if he loves our country, he will say “Yes but.” Ask Republicans and we’ll say, “Yes we do. Damn right we do."
10. Tenth and finally — of course the list could go on, but I’ll stop here — homage to what our founders called the Supreme Judge of the Universe. Republicans understand that America is not a nation at all unless we’re a nation under God.
None of the rest of this makes sense unless there is a Sovereign Creator who teaches us right from wrong and who made us in the first place. Democrats, by contrast, struck God’s name out of their platform and shouted down those who disagreed. Enough said.
In the 2010 governor’s race and again in the 2016 presidential race, some Colorado Republicans wondered if our party was worth saving. I answer that question with another:
What organization or institution or mobilized army of citizens and patriots will defend our Constitution and our American heritage – if not the Republican Party?
Worth saving? Damn right. Out of ammunition? Hell no.
America needs us. The world needs us. We’re the GOP, and we have not yet begun to fight.