Republicans have their guns blazing, shooting themselves in the foot. One way that conservatives regularly harm themselves is that they start an argument by conceding defeat. They take the false premises of the enemy as the starting point of their own argument. If step one of your defense is to agree with your opponent, you are helping them more than you are helping yourself.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal gave us an example of this technic on Monday. He called on Republicans to “stop being the stupid party” . He said, “We cannot be, we must not be, the party that simply protects the rich so they get to keep their toys.”
Does he believe that conservative principles of limited government are only good for wealthy people? This is exactly what his opponents believe and they express it in almost the same way he does. Jindal accepted and repeated their premise. If he understood conservative principles, he would argue that liberty and limited government are the keys to prosperity for all. The stupid party is the party that thinks otherwise, against all evidence of history.
Bill Kristol showed that he accepts the premise of the Democrats when he said a few days ago, “It won’t kill the country if we raise taxes a little bit on millionaires … I don’t really understand why Republicans don’t take Obama’s offer.” Why, he wondered, should we “defend a bunch of millionaires”.
Does Kristol not understand what Kennedy and Reagan understood when they argued that tax increases in a recession will slow growth and decrease government revenues. The argument is not about millionaires. It’s about rational tax policy. Why not make that argument rather than concede the argument with the language of the left.
And beyond the tax question, the real problem is wildly out of control spending. Taxing the 1% even more will not remotely fix our budget problem. Taxing high earners at 100% would only be a drop in the big, big bucket. The debt would still be enormous and growing. That’s the story that needs to be told.
After the election, much of the discussion among Republicans about the Hispanic vote started with the premise that conservative positions are anti-Hispanic. That is our opponents position exactly. But is there something racist about wanting secure borders? Are Mexicans racist for protecting their southern border? Is it racist to be against a socialist welfare state? These are not racist or anti-Hispanic positions and we will never out-Democrat the Democrats in pandering on these issues. Never. If we say the liberals are right and we favor open borders and expanding welfare, then we have lost the battle at that point.
When you hear a Republican like George Bush say he is a new kind of Republican - a “compassionate conservative”, you should realize that he is saying that regular conservatism is not compassionate. That is wrong and is a good example of accepting the premise of your opponents. Watch for it. Republicans do it all the time.
One other possiblility to consider is this. When establishment Republicans say, essentially, “We agree with you Democrats and want to be more like you”, they may mean exactly that. They are striving to be Democrats-lite.