Hundreds of millions of dollars and a pioneer conservative activist couldn’t overcome the Obama election machine, which just four years earlier had steamrolled over the house of Clinton in the Democratic primary.
So what will it take for the GOP to return to leadership?
That’s the question being asked by Richard A. Viguerie, the longtime conservative icon who runs ConservativeHQ.com.
But he’s doing more than asking, he’s raising the stakes, announcing the establishment of a $10,000 “Liberty Prize.”
The annual award will go to a grassroots conservative who comes up with a plan “to liberate the party from the control of the Beltway insiders who are pushing the party away from the conservative principles that win elections for Republicans.”
Viguerie explained that with “big government establishment Republicans, led by Karl Rove, launching a multimillion dollar PAC to control Republican primary elections and the changes to the Republican Party rules rammed through the 2012 Republican Convention by Mitt Romney’s inside-the-Beltway allies, conservatives must have a well-organized and well-thought-out plan to take control of the GOP from the grassroots up.”
“Otherwise, the Republican Party will continue its slow creep away from the conservative principles that elected Ronald Reagan in 1980, the Contract With America Congress in 1994, and the Tea Party wave Congress in 2010,” he said.
Viguerie emphasized he’s asking for “ideas on how to help save our country.”
“The entire $10,000 could go to one person who writes a great plan or it could be divided among persons who submit specific ideas to advance the project,” he said.
He plans to publish a book this spring, called “Takeover,” that will detail the strategy.
Viguerie said the “most important political battle in America is not between Republicans and Democrats or between conservatives and liberals.”
“It is the battle for control of the Republican Party between establishment big government Republicans and limited government, constitutional conservatives,” he said.
The work of Viguerie, the American Target Advertising executive who pioneered political/ideological direct mail in the 1960s and 1970s, was so significant that John F. Kennedy Jr.’s magazine, George, included it on its list of the defining political moments of the 20th century.
The Washington Post has called him the “conservatives’ Voice of America,” and he helped form numerous think tanks, publications and political groups.
He said the urgency of the internal GOP fight “cannot be overstated.”
“I believe conservatives at the grassroots level have the ideas and principles, as well as the numbers, political skills, and talent to govern America, but unlike the liberals who control the Democratic Party, we conservatives don’t control the Republican Party,” he said.
“In the 51 years I’ve been in politics at the national level, I’ve never been more enthusiastic about our prospects for success. Out of the ashes of the Republican establishment’s 2012 defeat, without compromising our principles, we conservatives can rebuild the Republican Party into a strong and principled voice for the majority of Americans who believe in, and will vote for, candidates who stand for freedom of the individual, economic opportunity, and traditional values.”
On the website, he said: “For the 100 years this battle for the soul of the Republican Party has been raging, conservatives have often been blamed for Republican defeats, including the 2012 debacle, despite the fact that, while substantial majorities of Americans back conservative positions on the growth of government, balancing the budget, and traditional values, conservatives have been excluded consistently from the leadership of the Republican Party.”
But now, he said, “it has become clear that establishment Republican and Democratic politicians have failed America because they have both accepted big government as the solution to every problem.”
“I’ve got thoughts and ideas for a plan for conservatives to take over the Republican Party. However, as the Bible tells us in Proverbs 11:14, ‘For lack of guidance a nation falls, but many advisers make victory sure.’
“I’m opening the writing of the plan to all conservatives who want to join me in this fight, win this battle, and save our country. There’s much wisdom among America’s grassroots conservatives, and together we can indeed make victory sure.”