By N. Horton
This past week was just one of those weeks where I took everything with a smile and a nod. I went with the flow–which is very atypical for me–and I tried not to raise a fuss about things that I have seen first hand going on within the Republican Party. But I just cannot be silent any longer.
Why do Democrats win? It is not because they share the values of mainstream America. It is not because they are more intelligent than Republicans or because they are harder workers. It is not because they have more money, are better looking, or communicate better. Democrats win because they do not eat their own.
Democrats do not attack each other’s character in primaries just because things are not going their way. Democrats do not dispel candidates just because they do not agree on 100% of the issues–Democrats can agree on 80% of issues and still work together.
Real life example: Hillary drops out of the 2008 Democratic primary to endorse Obama and they march to victory.
What do Republicans do in this state and around the country? They (the candidates, the leadership) do the opposite. They attack each other’s character, regardless of the damage done to another’s reputation or good standing in the community. They stifle dissent from younger members of the party who are dissatisfied with the “good ole boy” establishment. They whine, complain, and bloody each other up in tough primaries so that when the general election rolls around, the last man standing is on one leg, bandaged, and broke.
Real life example: Romney and Huckabee stay in the 2008 Republican primary just long enough to keep the base from ever truly rallying behind McCain and he loses an election that was very difficult to lose.
If the Republican Party wants to be a part of the political discussion in this country, we must learn how to differentiate ourselves without beating each other up. It is costing us elections and, more importantly, it is costing us our country. We must remember: we are all on the same side here!
And I suppose that is part of the problem: for the most part, we all share a set of common beliefs and principles (that’s not the problem). The problem comes when candidates are trying to differentiate themselves from the pack of primary candidates, whether in a Senate race, Congressional race, etc. If everyone essentially believes the same thing and is proposing the same solutions, the only way to differentiate oneself is to get personal. Unfortunately, candidates do this without considering the cost to themselves and to the party as a whole.
Many would use this point to argue for “moderation” within the party or the adoption of a “big tent” mentality. Wrong. We have tried that and it has failed. It is most definitely time to get back to conservative principles and make those principles the very bedrock of our party. So what is the solution?
It may seem oversimplified, and perhaps it is, but the answer is hard work. You see, if candidates agree on 90% of the issues, there really is no point in arguing over that 10%–and they would agree. But personal attacks, slander, whining, and complaining is not the answer. Primaries are part of the nature of the beast. Each candidate has the same opportunity to go out into their constituency and be heard. Each candidate has the equal opportunity to the nomination. Go out and get to work.
Stop complaining because you have a primary, because the newspaper does not like you, or because you cannot raise money. You want votes? Get out and meet the people.
We will never advance as a party until we stop eating our own. We will not be the majority party again until we learn to keep the gloves on during primaries–save the bare knuckles for the real enemy in the general election.
If we want to beat Blanche Lincoln, we better not empty the magazine on each other. If we want to beat Vic Snyder, the Republican candidate better not be unrecognizable by May–we cannot afford reconstructive surgery.
Stop this bickering. If you have a message, go out and share it. Nothing worth having comes easily. If you can’t handle the heat, get out of the kitchen. Politics is survival of the fittest. Is that enough cliches? I think you get the point.
Nicholas Horton is the Editor of The Arkansas Patriot and a candidate for Searcy City Council in Ward 1.