If they don't it may be 8 years of Hillary:
My Fix for What Ails the GOP
With the Republicans’ anemic approval ratings, the conservative cohost of MSNBC’s Morning Joe calls on his party to reject extremism By Joe Scarborough
For the GOP to win big again, it must take William F. Buckley’s ruthlessly pragmatic approach to primary elections. In Buckley’s view “conservatism, except when it is expressed in pure idealism, takes into account reality.” That means we have to stop electing amateurs who serve as little more than ideological indulgences, who exploit resentments that play well enough among the base, but whose positions make them nonviable in general elections. Had the party followed Buckley’s advice in 2010 and supported the most electable conservatives instead of the most ideologically extreme, Republicans would now control the United States Senate and Democratic leader Harry Reid would be in retirement in Nevada.
This is a lesson I learned the hard way: I spoke out against the possibility of Colin Powell’s presidential candidacy in 1996 because his political moderation was so off- putting to me. The thought that he could be the standard-bearer of my Republican Party was offensive. But watching the retired general on Meet the Press in recent years has made me understand why Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush drafted him to a be a critical player in their administrations. In retrospect I realize how much better the GOP would have fared against Bill Clinton in 1996 if I had not let my hopes for a conservative stalwart get in the way of our best hope to beat Clinton. “If it’s just going to represent the far right wing of the political spectrum, I think the party is in difficulty,” said Powell this year. “ I’m a moderate, but I’m still a Republican.” This war hero, who has made history of his own by becoming the first African-American chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and secretary of state, should still be one of the leading voices in the party because of, not in spite of, his centrist political philosophy. Republicans can kick moderates like General Powell out of the party’s mainstream and drive them into the arms of the Democratic Party every four years, or they can leave their ideological comfort zone, work aggressively to expand their political coalitions, and start stealing swing voters away from Democrats like Hillary Clinton. Unfortunately, the Republican Party of the moment bears little resemblance to the party of Ronald Reagan, who would have responded to Powell’s critiques of the Republican Party with an allhands- on-deck effort to win the war hero back. That’s because President Reagan lived by the belief that “ just because I’m your friend 80 percent of the time doesn’t make me your enemy 20 percent of the time.”
If the Republican party is big enough to reach out to disaffected moderates like Colin Powell, then it will be big enough to win the White House in 2016, even if Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee. The question is whether the GOP will go the way of Buckley or Glenn Beck. Republicans can win again and we will. And we can do it by following the right paths of Ronald Reagan and Dwight Eisenhower. We can do it by fighting for the core principles of conservatism and emphasizing values that most Americans agree with. There will also be times when we will follow the lead of Reagan and Eisenhower by putting principled pragmatism before ideological battles that undermine our ability to win elections, elect majorities, and take back control of the White House. But time is wasting. Hillary Clinton’s supporters are already preparing for political battle. Next time, we’d better be prepared to win. There is no substitute for victory, and I for one am damn tired of my party losing presidential elections.