Liberal Republicans, led by David Frum, continue argue for a remolding of the GOP into a ”Democrat-lite” party. Several prominent conservatives, including Todd Tiahrt, Michael Reagan, and Ann Coulter, have made many credible arguments against such a change of the party brand. This article will back those arguments up with evidence that this remolding – which David Frum, the hero of liberal Republicans, calls ”modernization” – would be an utter disaster for the GOP. The evidence is the result of the ”modernization” of the British ”Conservative” Party – Frum’s model for the Republican Party.
In 2005, David Cameron, a wishy-washy moderate Tory from Witney, was elected leader of the Tory Party. He and his ”moderate” aides began a radical remolding of the Conservative Party into a clone of the Labor Party, based on the fallacious belief that the voters of that party and the Lib Dems could be swayed to vote for the Tories, even though the vast majority of such voters are hardline leftists who wouldn’t vote for the Tories under any circumstances. As for traditional Conservative voters, Cameron argued that ”they have nowhere else to go” and so, they would always remain loyal to the Tory Party.
Cameron was wrong. Traditional Tory voters do have somewhere to go. The far-right United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) and similar parties welcome these voters with open arms. In fact, UKIP itself was established in 1993 by disenchanted Tories and almost all of the people who subsequently joined the party are also disenfranchised Conservative voters. But UKIP was a small fringe party – until Cameron initiated his ”modernization” program and began to scare Tory voters away from his party.
In 1999, UKIP had only 3 Members of the European Parliament and 0 members of the British Parliament. Today, UKIP has 13 MEPs and 2 members of the House of Lords. All of these gains were made at the cost of the ”Conservative Party”.
Arguably, Cameron’s worst mistake was his November 2009 decision to renege on his ”cast-iron” promise to organize a referendum on the European Constitution (AKA the Lisbon Treaty) if his party wins a parliamentary election. This single decision alienated further tens of thousands of Tory voters (the vast majority of Tories are eurosceptics who would prefer for the UK to withdraw from the European Union altogether, but Cameron and other Tory leaders refuse to listen to them).
As a result, the Tory Party is very unlikely to win a general election. The latest British polls indicate that if an election was organized today, the Tories would win only 296 seats in the House of Commons, 30 seats short of a majority. 64% of Britons believe that the Tories will not win a majority. It is likely that there will not be a majority party, so some parties will cobble a coalition together. It will probably be a Labor Party – Liberal Democrats coalition, thus allowing Gordon Brown to remain Prime Minister and the Labor Party to continue to govern Britain – albeit with a junior coalition partner.
The veteran British journalist Christopher Booker describes this picture thus:
“The real tragedy of what has happened to Britain in the past 20 years is that we no longer have an opposition worthy of the name. It is almost impossible to measure the damage done by 13 years of rule by Blair and Brown. (…)
Yet, as the worst Government in our history has presided over this catastrophe, we have had an Opposition so hypnotised that in fundamental respects it has scarcely been an opposition at all. The Tory party has never really recovered its identity, leaving millions of voters in effect disfranchised. Three virtually indistinguishable parties squabble over trivia, leaving the electorate without any clear alternative – so that on May 6 almost half the voters may well stay apathetically or sullenly at home.”
So this is the state of the UK and of the Conservative Party: after over 12 years spent under the worst British government since the Wilson government, after this incompetent government had done unimaginable harm to the UK, the “modernized Conservative Party” led by David Cameron – Frum’s hero – cannot win even a slim majority of seats in the House of Commons. Not only that, but it will guarantee the British people another 5 years under a socialist government. This is exactly the result of the “modernization” policy which Frum hailed, and this will also be the grim result if the GOP adopts Frum’s advice.
As Booker noted, there is no significant difference between the Tories and the Labor Party – they argue only about petty details, just like Frum and the Democrats. The Tory Party is highly unlikely to win the election, because its traditional voters have been disenfranchised while traditional Lib Dems and Blairites still vote for leftist parties.
Do Republicans really want their party to resemble the Tory Party?
The Republican Party now stands at crossroads. It must choose one of the two roads it can take. The first road would be the David Frum Highway to Electoral Defeat – or what Frum calls a “modernization” policy a la the Tory Party.
The other option would be to re-commit individual Republican politicians – and the Party as an organization – to traditional conservative principles upon which the Party and the US were established: a strong defense, low taxes, limited government, private enterprise, a Federal Republic, a strict interpretation of the Constitution, and protection of personal liberties. Tens of millions of Americans profess these principles (vide the Tea Partiers) and will vote for Republicans who abide by them. These Americans constitute today’s “Great Silent Majority”.
Currently, the GOP is neither liberal nor conservative. It still hasn’t decided what to choose.
So it’s time for conservatives to take the Party back and make it again an unashamedly conservative party that advocates and adheres to the timeless conservative principles upon which this great Republic was established.
Originally published at TRC (http://www.therealitycheck.org/?p=13521).