The Future of the GOP


I had the opportunity to address the GOP’s annual meeting for North Carolina’s seventh district last weekend. I must admit that I have been a little down on the GOP for some time. Some Republicans have been staunch defenders of liberty, but many others have been lukewarm at best, seemingly lacking a philosophical compass. I was encouraged by my visit.

I spoke about the current attack on capitalism in the US. As I see it, the battle is not about a particular left-wing proposal. It’s about a series of policies that usurp individual rights and empower the federal government well beyond its Constitutional limits. This type of message is unsetting to moderates who accept the center-left’s flawed argument that capitalism is OK as long as its greed and excesses are balanced by sufficient government intervention. The notion that a capitalism-socialism mix gives us the “best of both worlds” is the root of many of our problems in Washington. The truth, of course, is that the world of socialism brings nothing to the table in the first place.

I watched the audience intently as I spoke. I also met a number of delegates from all backgrounds and walks of life, including candidates for the State GOP Chair. I was impressed with the conversation and comments on my remarks, leaving me encouraged and cautiously optimistic about the future. While the need for party unity is always a common theme in party meetings, there was a sense that unity must be built around core principles. There seemed to be little patience for the RINOs who wear the party label but don’t seem interested in battling the left when it really counts.

The political landscape has changed with the Obama administration and Democrat majorities in both houses. Republican candidates with little vision beyond maintenance of the status quo and constant negotiation with the left in search of the dubious “middle ground” are of little value. On his show, Andrew Wilkow identifies himself as conservative before Republican, a sentiment that seems to be held by more Americans today than ever before. If the GOP is to become a party of real change, it needs bold leaders whose vision and intellect are built on liberty and conservative principles, not just a Republican affiliation. If North Carolina’s seventh district is any indication, then the GOP is on the right track. If it stays the course, 2010 could be a good year.



  1. AGM  •  Apr 25, 2009 @7:34 AM

    The Reps need to get their act together and now is the time. I’m a proud conservative independent because the Rep party doesn’t represent me well. The tea parties were also a good sign. I hope things are turning around.

  2. SantaFeCapitalist  •  Apr 25, 2009 @7:39 AM

    You and Wilkow are right. Defend principles first, party second. The Republicans have looked the other way too long and there are too many RINOs in Washington. The first step in taking back the House is to deal with the impostors in the primaries.

  3. Ted B  •  Apr 25, 2009 @7:50 AM

    John, I was at the above meeting and very much enjoyed your remarks. It is refreshing to hear an educator with ideas that make sense to me as opposed to the continued promotion the failed liberal policies of the left.
    As a person who has become involved in the Republican party here in Brunswick County I have hope as well. I believe we can make a difference if we get our act together. We need candidates who run on the constitutional principles of our founding fathers. When elected we need to hold them to legislating on those principles and if they do not we need to act accordingly.
    Education is the key, we need to reduce the impact of money in politics by removing the ability to munipulate the politically uneducated with their emotional appeals. Through education we have the tool to interject facts and logic into the decision making process. We need to vote on the principles of individual freedom and personal responsibility, a job that begins at home, one voter at a time.
    We enjoyed hearing your presentation and hope we have the chance to interact again very soon.

  4. Rob Huxley  •  Apr 25, 2009 @1:31 PM

    Hi Dr. Parnell
    I couldn’t agree with you or Wilkow more. I agree with Wilkow also when he says this country is not polarized enough for him. Although I think we are getting there fast and the poles are starting to reflect that.
    I live in the liberal northeast. I am so frustrated with the R party up here because they are all rhino’s. I was disappointed with the tea parties up here. I have started working with 2 new groups and my own group to start holding tea parties so that people can see something other than broken messengers. The “big” NH tea party was replete with Republicans that have been voted out of every office around. I tell people constantly that we are in a war of words. The message is not only broken up here but so are the messengers. The party leadership doesn’t seem to accept this and when presented with opportunities they aren’t reaching out for new blood but expecting our allegiance because of the letter R beside their name. I am tempted by the idea of a new party for the entire northeast but I know it would hurt the national elections.
    We are also facing Democratic assualt. Maine can’t win elections because of the democratic population on 95 (Snow). NH can’t get anyone decent through the cities, Vermont, Mass, R.I., and connecticut are all a total loss. And yet the leadership doesn’t want ideas or feedback just our checks.
    I hope the rest of the country starts to turn back the other direction, I am starting to lose hope up here.

  5. John Parnell  •  Apr 29, 2009 @10:48 AM

    P.S. I’m still trying to make sense of the Spector defection, but I’m not convinced it has to be bad for the GOP long term (aside from the obvious filibuster problem). Frankly, now might be a good time for other RINOs to bail out as well. When it means something to be a Republican again, then the party will be in the position to grow and coalesce around core conservative principles.

  6. Chris Herrala  •  Apr 30, 2009 @9:35 AM

    John I agree now is a good time for other RINOs to bail, hopefully Olympia J. Snowe and Susan M. Collins will be gone soon too. I like to compare the Republican party to a bottle of dads vodka when you were a kid. When mom and dad were gone you take a few nips from the bottle, share a little with your friends and then replace the consumed vodka with water. The result was a vodka of much less quality and dad knew it when he took that first taste. What happened after that was usually not pretty! Specter, Snow and Collins are the water that contributes to a less then desirable Republican party. We conservatives out here are like dad, we know the party has been watered down by these posers and someone has to pay.

    I love when Wilkow has you on, keep fighting the good fight.


  7. Jeff  •  May 3, 2009 @6:43 PM

    Sen. Jim DeMint had a good editorial in the WSJ Saturday May 2 issue. He explains very well how the party went off the rails. He explains how to create a “big tent” party by staying on message with freedom and small gov’t being the centerpieces. He suggests that the seemingly more divisive social policies should be addressed through the democratic process, not by unelected judges. I think that is an important point. The “litmus test” for a Republican should be that they believe in freedom, small gov’t, strong defense and the democratic process. By keeping it simple and aligned to our founding priniples, we have a better chance of building the necessary respect and moral authority to regain power. While fighting like mad for what we beleive it, we have to be willing to accept that the democratic process may result in laws to which we object. If we ourselves are leaders in vocalizing the virtues of our democracy and willing to live with the consequences, then we will prevail.
    The media eats us alive when we are portrayed as anti gay, anti poor, anti immigrant, anti working family and so on. Most folks who live by sound bites tune into this – “Oh, those Conservatives are so mean” message. We have to change the message.
    We have to go on offense with a clear and consistent message based on founding principles. From what I have heard from Republicans in Washington, there are some who are doing this well right now, but not enough. There is great opportunity to exploit the mistakes being made by Obama and company if we stay on message in a consistent and disciplined way. They are over-reaching and it will become more eveident if Reps vocalize the alternative.