Last week, courtesy of CSPAN, I had the opportunity to hear a speech Patrick Buchanan gave at an event to celebrate Richard M. Nixon’s centenary. It was published on CNSnews and is well worth reading in full.
Buchanan said that most of us of an advanced age were, in fact, “the Nixon generation” and this is true. There wasn’t a year since his election in 1946 when he joined the 80th Congress when Nixon did not, in one fashion or another, play a pivotal role in the politics and great issue of his time despite defeats that would have driven a less determined person to leave politics and enjoy the life of a successful attorney in private practice.
The Republican Party has had its share of defeats as regards the presidency. It had the good sense to nominate the war hero, Ike Eisenhower, and he in turn chose Nixon to be his running mate for two terms from 1953 to 1961 The mainstream media savaged Nixon and would continue to do so throughout his political career, especially when he became President. Despite many achievements in office, the Watergate scandal would force his resignation.
Speaking of the Republican Party, Buchanan noted, “After the crushing defeat that fall (when Goldwater ran against Lyndon Johnson in 1964) the Republican Party was reduced to one-half of the Democratic Party’s strength; 140 House seats, 32 Senate seats, 17 governors. The Republican Party was a house divided and a house in ruins. It was an open question whether it would survive. And then began the greatest comeback in American political history.”
Despite his election, Lyndon Johnson’s expansion of the Vietnam War would result in his decision in 1968 to forego running for a second term. Nixon would run and win, twice. Buchanan reminded his audience, “In November 1972, (he) was rewarded with the most sweeping landslide in history—49 states and 60 percent of the vote.” The MSM has tried ever since to re-write the history of Richard Nixon.
“Because of the campaigns he had conducted in ’66, ’68, ’70 and ’72, a party on its deathbed in 1964 was on its way to becoming the new majority party, America’s party, which would capture the presidency and carry forty or more states in four of the next five presidential elections.” Its apogee was the two terms of Ronald Reagan in the 1980s.
The Republican Party, we’re told, is in disarray, ruled by elites, and with weak candidates like Bob Dole, John McCain, and Mitt Romney, is doomed—again. If the story of Richard Nixon and the two terms of Ronald Reagan are any indication, it is too soon to order a casket and headstone.
A slim majority of three million votes out of a total of 126 million may have reelected Barack Obama, but there are growing numbers of Americans who are already shell-shocked to discover the harm that Obamacare has imposed and the reality of his constant call for more and higher taxation. Despite the role of the MSM in getting an unknown first-term Senator from Illinois elected and their effort to protect him, public opinion is already beginning to shift.
The day after the election, Patrick Martin, on the website of the World Socialists, wrote “Obama will repay those who turned out to vote for him by carrying out measured that will devastate their jobs, living standards, and social conditions.” He predicted that “The ‘grand bargain’’ that he has pledged to negotiate with the Republicans will come at the expense of the working class, through cuts to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and other social programs.” Martin was only half right. Socialists and other liberals are already being hit by new taxes and a hint of the inflation to come. Obama, however, has shown no intention to negotiate anything with the Republicans.
The first and now second decade of the current century are far different from the turmoil of the 1960s and 70’s. They were times in which protest marches in Washington were commonplace. The last major march was in 2009 when a million or more Americans showed up to oppose Obamacare and, in the end, the Democrats—having not even read the bill—passed it on Christmas Eve. It was supposed to lower healthcare costs. It has only served to increase the costs of healthcare insurance and the provision of healthcare.
Even a generation or two of Americans who have passed through the liberal indoctrination of government schools are beginning to feel the pain in their wallets. Despite blaming George W. Bush throughout his first term, the reality is that millions of Americans are not only unemployed, given up looking for work, but will be joined by more workers, many of whom are already having their hours and paychecks reduced because of Obamacare. More than 48 months of unbroken records of unemployment nationwide are being noticed even by Democrats and Obama supporters.
The current attempts to do an end-run on the Second Amendment have caught the attention of eighty million gun owners in America. The suggestion that a massacre by a single crazed gunman is cause enough to confiscate guns or impose more restrictions on gun ownership defies common sense and is scaring a lot of Americans including liberals.
President Obama has not solved the nation’s financial crisis and the midterm elections of 2010 that gave control of the House to the Republican Party is likely to be repeated in 2014 with the possible loss of the Senate as well if voters grow increasingly unhappy.
Obama, even to those who voted for him, is increasingly creepy. He lies all the time. His selections to replace cabinet posts are running into resistance, not just from Republicans, but members of his own party.
The essential problem that the Republican Party has is “messaging.” Granted it is hard to get out one’s message when the bulk of the MSM is liberal and devoted to Obama, but even during the Romney campaign, the Republican message was weak and avoided taking on Obama’s obvious failures. Its two primary spokespersons, Rep. John Boehner and Sen. Mitch McConnell totally lack Obama’s personal appeal and neither has shown much inclination to directly or dramatically call him out on his continuous lies.
Obama has painted the GOP as the party of the rich, as a party that wants to cut entitlement programs, as war-mongers, as enemies of women, and other accusations, none of which are true. The GOP has done little to fire back in a coordinated fashion.
So, no, the Republican Party is wounded—mostly self-inflicted—but far from dead. Neither is the Tea Party movement. The GOP needs to fire up an aggressive approach to its key values and issues. It has spent too much time on the defensive. It has a backlog of talented governors—in thirty states, the highest in years—and members of Congress from whom to draw for a new generation of leaders.
The 2014 elections will test whether the Republican Party regains its voice and its heart. It has nothing to lose by vigorously challenging Obama. It will go along with an increase in the debt ceiling, but it can do so by demanding spending cuts. It must do so loudly.
© Alan Caruba, 2013.