What do history's most notorious despots have in common with many of the flag-waving, patriotic politicians of our day? Both groups rise to power through the exploitation of fear, which has become a societal plague. There have been widespread casualties. We need an antidote. Feardom offers its readers a much-needed immunization.
photo credit: DiscoWeasel
Michael Steele, chairman of the Republican party, admits that his party has “screwed up”, while selectively pointing to some (of the many) errors made in the past couple of decades. While only a little surprising (after all, he didn’t make these statements while his own party was still in charge), this is a welcome first step in the process of redemption—a recognition of fault.
As recovering alcoholics, children who have stolen candy from a store, and repenting Christians all know, recognition is only the first step. What follows is (or, well, should be) a change in one’s behavior, bringing it in line with the standard being sought after. Only then will the recognition be seen as somewhat valid, rather than a feigned attempt to show contrition while lacking sincerity or any commitment to improve.
Republicans by and large have shown no such sincerity, and until they do they will continue to see their base jump ship while further losing the public’s confidence. To regain said confidence, Chairman Steele “says the GOP should, among other things, expose the ‘reign of error’ inherent in liberal policies, contrast conservative and liberal principles, and highlight the damage caused by Obama’s policies while explaining conservative solutions.”
This is not a change in behavior. It is, rather, like a child justifying his own malfeasance by ratting out his sibling who likewise broke the rules. Yes, the other child behaved improperly as well, but this does not show a sincere desire to improve, nor does it endear the parent to the child. Pointing a finger at someone else is disingenuous at best, and deceitful at worst, when the proper action is to point the finger at one’s own self.
The Republican party has failed to do this, apparently not realizing that it is the fastest way to regain strength and attract supporters. Disenfranchised Republicans of all levels of party faithfulness are slowly and steadily distancing themselves from the tainted batch of elected officials who have sullied the once-respected label. A course correction is needed if the party is to survive and stand on any principle at all, but a simple verbal confession will not suffice. Few are convinced by the contrition being shown by some, including Steele, who naturally become comfortable supporters of principle—if only in word, not in deed—as the so-called “loyal opposition”.
The redemption of the Republicans will be most effective and genuine if and when the party regains control of the government and can demonstrate a commitment to the principles to which it claims to adhere while having the power and opportunity to continue to ignore them. Until that occurs, Republican leaders should look inward and sincerely admit their faults while either stepping aside to let others correct their mistakes and adhere to the core principles of the party, or by being forthcoming about these mistakes and detailing exactly what will be done to fix them.
Forgiveness is always “an option on the table” and Republicans can (perhaps only by some miracle) re-dedicate themselves to the principles they profess. However the change occurs, though, occur it must if the redemption is to be made complete and the Republicans are to regain any legitimacy in national politics.