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Salvo 03.10.2022 10 minutes

No Country for Bold Men

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The Washington establishment works to maintain the status quo.

One disastrous year of one-party rule has Americans ready for something else, and the consensus predicts a backlash in the 2022 midterm elections. But if the Washington establishment gets its way, the abuses and excesses of the Biden era will not be reversed. Exploitation of our country’s citizens and resources will continue, as traditional modes of recourse are invalidated. The ruling class is increasingly comfortable enriching itself at the expense of the public. Our politicians sacrifice their own citizens’ welfare for radical ideological experiments in public health, criminal justice, and primary education. Those in charge are dangerously divorced from the interests of the people. As dissatisfaction grows, they have resorted to more feverish and desperate efforts to nullify dissent and deprive voters of recourse. A ruling class primarily concerned with insulating itself from accountability has troubling consequences for all Americans, regardless of party.

What does this all mean for 2022? Some GOP politicians and pundits envision coasting to victory by simply existing as the alternative, pushing “uncontroversial” issues, and hoping Biden’s dismal record speaks for itself. This seems reasonable enough, but there is real danger to the typical GOP Beltway consultant advice of pursuing non-committal, non-confrontational politics for fear of alienating voters. GOP central command apparently hopes to motivate voters with the mere implication they can deliver a reprieve. This risk-averse approach seems naïve given the threats of our era.

2022 represents the opportunity to shake off the fecklessness that characterizes the GOP. Vague platitudes and talking points give the impression that Republicans do not have a stomach for the realities of what it will take to save America’s destiny. Rhetoric so weak it cannot even convince your own voters you will take their side should not be expected to persuade skeptical independents and disaffected Democrats. Pushing only anodyne solutions to major problems is a mistaken strategy, because defending America against hostile ruling institutions is not a fringe cause. Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs suffer while negligent leaders make their lives worse. The task before the GOP is to assure voters that Republicans can save this country from a government that has become severed from—and even sabotages—the interests of its own people.

The GOP must unite as champions of the American people, not celebrate its subordinate role as the loyal opposition. When GOP politicians assist the Democrats’ policy goals—from special interest giveaways disguised as infrastructure spending, to empowering a lawless and vengeful intelligence “community,” to resettling countless unvetted illegal immigrants in American communities—any voter unhappy with the Biden agenda is forced to conclude nobody remains who represents their interests at all, and that both parties offer identical helpings of betrayal and failure.

Republicans must develop the fortitude to tune out the media. The media works to discredit and delegitimize any cause authentically championed by Republican voters, in order to discourage Republican candidates from popularizing, campaigning on, and governing on energizing issues such as election security, immigration, and critical race theory. Republicans must stop cowering from media scrutiny. Acknowledge the reality: they are political actors who oppose your goals and seek to deprive your voters of representation. As such, hostile propaganda and manufactured smear campaigns simply come with the territory. They ran this playbook for four years against President Trump, and 11 million more people voted for him the second time than the first time.

The GOP must commit to the base and grow the coalition by popularizing its issues to a broader audience. Republicans seek approval for “respecting norms” by ignoring their voters’ demands while the Left works to legitimize its base’s goals by defining them as moral crusades. They frame climate change as a social justice issue that requires more redistributive policies to correct. When was the last time the GOP used the language of justice to expose the left’s tolerance for human sacrifice and enabling human trafficking at the border? Republican leaders must not dismiss their base’s top issues. That is the opposite of how politics works. Have the confidence, and develop the talent, to take your own side and demonstrate the relevance of these issues to the broader electorate.

The Republicans must recognize the stakes of continuing to apologize for and tune out their voters’ demands. Republicans represent half the country’s voters, and they’re gathering momentum as Americans suffer the consequences of Biden’s failed leadership. The GOP cannot act as though the whims and wishes of the corrupt and hostile media are more powerful—or more important— than advancing the interests of the citizens of this country. And they cannot allow the media, which works in concert with the political opposition, to control public discourse and dictate policy priorities. Time and resources are finite, and the GOP must be assertive when standing up for the American people against a manufactured agenda.

Finally, the GOP must have enough confidence in its own cause to be bold. Our country desperately needs vigorous pro-American leadership to restore its promise. It will take more than focus-grouped platitudes to be a convincing alternative to vast government-wrought dysfunction. You can tweet “secure the border!” but eventually voters will wonder what the plan is for Biden’s annual import quota of 2 million illegal immigrants, resettled on the taxpayer dime. The anti-sovereignty policies Biden pursues are so extreme that people can scarcely believe what they’re seeing. Yet the GOP is still afraid to take a clear, pro-citizen stance on law enforcement and deportation.

Beltway consultants tend to devise campaign strategies that tap into voters’ despair while servicing the status quo. If the GOP follows this path, they will squander the historic opportunity to restore American promise and return the just powers of the people back to their hands. This is a transformative moment. Ride the waves of righteous discontent. Sincerity is liberating. Wimping out when the American people need you most is not virtuous. It’s disgraceful. Clarity of purpose and vision are non-negotiable. Or else we will be left with no country for bold men.

The American Mind presents a range of perspectives. Views are writers’ own and do not necessarily represent those of The Claremont Institute.

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