Radio talk-show host Hugh Hewitt has a brandy-new “must-read” book for political junkies called Painting the Map Red: The Fight to Create a Permanent Republican Majority, in which Hugh offers his own sage advice to Republicans if they want to maintain or extend their majority in Congress this fall.
While I’m looking forward to reading Hugh’s book, it is my own humble view that if Republicans have any hopes of holding (or bettering) their majority status following the 2006 elections and beyond, all they really have to do is grow a spine and condense their message around five core issues:
1) Stay the course in Iraq and the Global War on Terror.
In other words, plaster John Murtha’s defeatist message all over the airwaves, then follow it up with this rebuttal: we’re not leaving Iraq one day earlier than necesary to get the job done, which means: securing a stable government for its people, and leaving with the confidence that Iraq can stand on its own. The war against Saddam has morphed into a bitter struggle between Al-Qaida and radical Islamic fundamentalism one one hand, and the U.S. and western civilization and values on the other, which is fine, let’s destroy them over there so we don’t have to do it here. Wars are messy; post-wars even messier. Want proof? We still have troops in Korea and Germany, don’t we?
2) Tax reduction and continued tax relief.
This is one area where the Democrats have absolutely no credibility. The message should be clear and simple: vote Democrat, and you’re voting for higher taxes. Period.
3) Confirming conservative judges:
A critical issue for getting the base out. Conservatives may not be happy with Republicans in Congress (especially the Senate) right now, but you cannot deny that the possibility of the GOP losing it’s ability to replace aging, liberal activist judges with younger jurists of a more restrained philoposophical bent on both the Supreme Court and U.S. District Court benches should be incentive enough to convince even the most recalcitrant conservative and apathetic Libertarian to support GOP candidates when they might otherwise stay home.
4) Put forth a plan to reduce Federal spending.
Where have all the Reagan Republicans gone? The greatest danger facing Republican chances this fall and beyond. The GOP’s woeful record in this Congress, allowing the federal budget and the deficit to grow like it has, has deflated conservative morale and encouraged the Libertarian movement. One thing for sure: if Republicans do poorly this fall, it will be primarily due to a lack of enthusiasm by the base, resulting from the decided lack of fiscal discipline exhibited by President Bush and the Republican-led Congress of the past six years.
5) Tough immigration reform.
Another area where the Republicans in Congress have lost their spine. Are they so worried about offending Hispanic voters in the Southwest that they’re willing to forego a natural, made-to-order constituency that could ultimately pay HUGE dividends at the ballot box: blue-collar families (the old “Reagan Democrats”) and the labor unions of the electoral vote-rich Rust Belt.
If Republicans would do a full-court press on these voters, explaining how illegal immigration depresses salaries and reduces overall quality of work (valid arguments to blue-collar workers), takes away American jobs (the very reason United Farm Worker’s Union poster-boy Caesar Chavez vehemently opposed illegal immigration), and diverts money and resources that could otherwise be directed towards social programs and/or tax incentives for American businesses, thereby reducing “off-shoring” and increasing economic growth and employment. By making this powerful case to an otherwise-loyal Democratic constituency, you never know – it could lay the groundwork for a Midwest resurgence that would not only dampen Democratic hopes in 2006, it could grease the skids for another Republican president in 2008.
So there you have it – The Great White Shank’s fail-proof, down-home recipe for Republican success in the fall. See, I just spared you the cost of Hugh’s book! Just kidding, Hugh…
But seriously, folks, without even having read it yet, I would highly recommend Hugh’s new book, if for no other reason than his uncanny ability to predict the future. In his previous book If It’s Not Close They Can’t Cheat, he stressed the importance of Republican get-out-the-vote efforts to counteract the pre-election shenanigans the Democratic Party has become increasingly reliant on in recent years. In Blog, he accurately foretold the growth of the “blogsphere” and the impact bloggers would have on both the cultural and political landscape, and the mainstream media who once controlled it.
The common wisdom out there is that 2006 will be a bloodbath for Republicans and a watershed year for the Democratic Party. If the GOP apparatus in Washington and across the nation were to pay heed to Hugh’s book (or, even better, this post ), it doesn’t have to be that way. Out in the American heartland, and here in Phoenix – one of the epicenters of the immigration reform battle – my sense is that the spirit of the conservative base, while weary of the mainstream media’s overwhelmingly-negative coverage of events in Iraq, the constant thrashing of the President by Democrats and their cohorts in both the mainstream media and Hollywood, nevertheless remain willing. Nevertheless, it will be up to the GOP and its roster of candidates for national election to run campaigns that are bold, dynamic, and issues-oriented to ensure that the flesh come November does not go weak.
BTW, Hugh was part of a panel at the Heritage Foundation earlier today to discuss his book, and Mary Katharine Ham was there.