For the record, do not count me among the pessimists who think Barack Obama is certain to defeat Mitt Romney on Nov. 6. Nevertheless, it is impossible to avoid somber thoughts about what may – and probably should – happen to the Republican Party if Romney loses.
A Romney loss would of course trigger an avalanche of second-guessing: what mistakes were made and if he could have won with a different campaign, a campaign that did not rest so completely on Obama’s mismanagement of the economy. But the “blame game questions” about campaign strategy and tactics will not be the most important ones facing the country if Obama wins a second term.
The unavoidable question if Obama wins a second term will be whether and how constitutional government can be protected from the Obama agenda. The inescapable question for conservatives will be whether the Republican Party can play a significant role in that life-and-death struggle given its abject incompetence over the past decade.
I am not alone in thinking that is an open question given the evidence of Republican weakness and incompetence. In recent days, a growing number of conservative pundits have said openly what millions are thinking privately – that if Romney can’t beat Obama in this economy with the president’s record of utter failure, the Republican Party ought to close up shop.
That suggestion will be heard often in the weeks and months ahead. What is missing is an alternative to continued Republican bungling.
Admittedly, Romney was never the first choice of conservatives, but they have rallied to his side. Conservatives understand that removing Barack Obama from the White House is absolutely necessary to halt the nation’s plunge into full-blown socialism at home and a dangerous impotence abroad.
Thus, it is fair to say that the Romney-Ryan campaign has benefited from a Republican Party that is more unified, better organized and better financed than any time since the Reagan re-election campaign of 1984. It is also fair to say that Romney is running against an incumbent with the worst record in both domestic and foreign policy of any president since … well, since before Noah built his ark.
With so much going for him, millions of conservatives and tea-party activists will reach this conclusion: A Romney defeat must be laid squarely at the door of the Republican Party establishment.
“But,” you may protest, “the economy is going to collapse soon under the weight of unsustainable debt, and Obama will be blamed.” Really? Blamed by whom? The liberal media, government workers and labor unions that just put him back into office? Do we see free-market conservatives gaining power in Europe as a consequence of the fiscal follies in Greece, Spain and Italy? No, with the help of the lapdog media, economic woes and catastrophes can always be blamed on Wall Street, greed and old white guys.
Besides, the inconvenient truth for the Republican Party is that it is not blameless for the $16 trillion in national debt and the entitlement culture. When your only legislative strategy consists of agreeing to half of what the socialists want each year, you cannot feign indignation at the consequences of such “compassionate” posturing.
Yet, this kind of debate over issue strategy misses the point. The problem is not the Republican “brand” as such. The problem is much deeper. Debating how to “rebrand” the Republican Party is like debating what size rowboat to purchase to survive an approaching tsunami.
Let’s cut to the chase. Does the Republican platform or the Republican “brand” really matter if the American people give our imperial president a second term? Doesn’t that mean that the tipping point has been passed and the Republican Party is on the downside of a curve that leads past impotence to irrelevance? On the day after Obama wins a second term, patriots will be asking not about the fate of the Republican Party but the fate of the Constitution itself.
What do patriots do when the federal government is truly and nakedly unlimited in its powers – and this is accepted by a majority of Americans as a good and necessary thing? We know how the Americas of 1775 answered that question at Concord and Lexington. But it may be that Obama and the progressives have at last succeeded in convincing a majority of Americans that the Declaration of Independence was a quaint historical document suitable for its time but not adequate for the 21st century and its “world citizens.”
To avoid this fate, many of the things that need to be done fall into the category of cultural and institutional rejuvenations outside the mission of a political party. For example, higher education must be radically reformed, the mass media held accountable and the “race card” retired from acceptable usage. These are huge projects beyond any party platform. But a party’s leadership and its elected public officials must understand and support those broader efforts, not belittle or oppose them.