GOP blueprint should include return to roots

Freedom New Mexico

It’s tough enough for a party to lose a national election, but even tougher for its leaders to listen to the myriad advice from all corners, including from the pundits on Freedom Communications editorial pages.

So the Republican Party must now endure the ritualistic finger-pointing, circular firing squad and lectures following Democratic Sen. Barack Obama’s solid presidential victory and significant congressional gains made by Democratic candidates on Nov. 4.

The GOP’s brand is badly damaged for reasons most Americans are aware of: the poor performance of the Bush administration, high-profile cases of GOP corruption, a foolish war, the lack of a positive agenda and the party’s support for policies that contradict its own rhetoric.

The big question for the GOP is: What comes next? That’s a tough question. But California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who is technically a Republican, has offered the party some valuable advice in what not to do next — although that wasn’t his intention.

“I think the important thing for the Republican Party is now to also look at other issues that are very important for this country and not to get stuck in ideology,” Schwarzenegger said in a recent CNN interview. “Let’s go talk about health care reform. Let’s go and … fund programs if they’re necessary programs and not get stuck just on the fiscal responsibility.”

As the Los Angeles Times summarized the governor’s statements, “Schwarzenegger said … his party should regroup by moving away from some of its core conservative principles and embracing spending on programs that Americans want.”

There’s no doubt the party has to change. But in our view the national Republicans got beaten decisively because they long ceased to have lived up to the limited-government promises they make.

The Bush administration has expanded government at a rate unmatched since the LBJ years, and this president has used his veto pen only on the rarest of occasions. After the GOP was outmaneuvered by the Clinton administration on the government shut down in the 1990s, the party has largely tried to build permanent Republican constituencies by expanding programs (Medicare prescription drugs, for instance) and focusing on divisive social issues.

This is the model Schwarzenegger is suggesting Republicans expand upon.

Instead of listening to his big-government hokum, the GOP needs to remember its limited-government roots.

That’s the real blueprint for future success.