November 7, 2005
Wanted: True-Red Conservatives
You have to wonder about Republicans' state of mind of late.
wake up one morning and confront an unfamiliar face in the mirror?
Like some bad political Botox, gone is Ronald Reagan's face; staring
back in his place is Teddy "I will spend your money like
a drunken sailor" Kennedy.
are knee-deep pork barrelers practicing the fine art of fiscal
irresponsibility. Who passes the baton that began with Goldwater,
took root with Reagan and gained power through the "Contract
to popular belief, the core of conservatism does not spring from
"life" issues; those just suck up all of the air and
make all of the noise. Conservatives are, first and foremost,
proponents of limiting government's power and strengthening national
for someone who runs and governs as a Goldwater reveals three
leaders from different parts of the country: former U.S. Rep.
Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell
and Texas Gov. Rick Perry. All are preachers in the church of
chairman of The Club for Growth and a near-spoiler to U.S. Sen.
Arlen Specter's last re-election bid, embodies what a conservative
should be. And not because of his pro-life stance; that was the
gravy to his meat of fiscal accountability.
over the quicksand in which many Republican officials stand. He
recognizes that the Republican Party faces its biggest challenge
since coming to power in 1994.
have our disagreements with life issues, but we should remain
rock-solid on fiscal and defense issues," he says.
solid street credibility with all factions of the GOP, largely
because he wisely recognizes that the glue that must hold things
together is limited government.
the former U.S. Housing and Urban Development undersecretary,
never is offended when described as a "black Ronald Reagan."
Not only does he adhere to his teacher's principles, he shared
a friendship with him.
quipped to a younger Blackwell that "you and I share a distinction
-- we were not born Republicans ... we chose to become one."
According to Reagan, it produced in both men "clarity that
gives us passion when we speak it."
mayor of Cincinnati (he followed Jerry Springer, proving that
the sublime can follow the ridiculous) to Ohio secretary of State,
Blackwell says spending is his biggest beef with conservatives.
Rick Perry is steadfast about governing responsibly, which translates
into consistently facing resistance when balancing fiscal policies
with social concerns. His maverick approach to remaining true-blue
has earned him a solid reputation with conservatives. Beltway-types
look to him as perfect vice-presidential material, despite his
disdain for elbow-rubbing.
Kay Bailey Hutchison, a fellow Republican, briefly considered
running against Perry in 2006. Faced with a daunting primary against
a truer Republican, she quickly backed down.
and Perry are not conservative stray cats. They have a clear understanding
of limited governing and they know how to apply it. They're three
examples of why the GOP should consider support for cloning as
a plank in its platform.
are taking every opportunity to shovel the alleged scandals of
Lewis Libby, Bill Frist and Tom DeLay down Americans' throats.
Instead of offering up nothing but accusations, Democrats would
be smarter to chip away at the GOP for its real problem -- fiscal
In the end,
scandal will not strip power from Republicans' hands. Consistently
launching wasteful entitlement programs and wild-eyed spending
will do that.
And if that
pattern continues, ask the last conservative to leave the party
to please turn out the lights.
Zito, a political consultant who has worked for Democrats
and Republicans, lives in Mt. Lebanon, PA.