In Sunday’s edition of The DC Writeup — a web news journal for politically motivated young adults, author Kelse Moen, a recent Emory graduate, wrote about the need for the Republican Party to focus on principles and issues. Writes Moen:
GOP Needs to Focus on Principles, Not Twitter
by Kelse Moen
It’s tough to say who is the most absurd U.S. Senator, but my vote goes to Republican Chuck Grassley, the senior senator from Iowa. The seventy-five-year-old Grassley, you see, has discovered Twitter, and now lonely College Republicans all across the country can tune in for daily bits of wisdom like this:
“End of life debate is deliberate atempt to focus attention away fr cost of Pelosi bill. Instead shld focus on lowering cost of health delivry.”
Of course, Grassley’s rapier wit is not limited to legislative topics. In another “tweet,” picked up by NPR, he fired a hefty salvo at President Barack Obama. “Pres Obama,” twote Grassley, “you got nerve while u sightseeing in Paris to tell us ‘time to deliver’ on health care. We still on skedul/even workinWKEND.”
Grassley is no Daniel Webster — but neither are any of the other 99 senators. In 2009, one is more likely to find a spark of intelligence among 100 people randomly grabbed off the street than in the Senate cloakroom. But Grassley’s Twitter page is bad even by senatorial standards. I don’t think it is any exaggeration to call it one of the most pointless, inane things to be created by a senator since Meghan McCain.
Grassley’s Twitter page, like Meghan McCain’s career as a political pundit, is driven by the belief that Republicans have been losing elections lately because they haven’t been able to connect with young people, and that all they need to do to win is become hipper and more technologically savvy. This is the mentality that led the GOP to counter Barack Obama’s presidential victory by finding a black man of their own and putting him in charge of their party. It’s what leads to videos like this and to Meghan McCain’s schoolgirl blather about which Republican congressman is the hottest.
This is a harmful mentality to have. It totally bypasses introspection by assuming that the Republicans’ downfall was started by sins of omission, rather than sins of commission, and thus avoids the important lessons that Republicans should have learned from their defeat. In reality, the GOP hasn’t lost the last two elections because they failed to harness the power of Facebook and Youtube, or because the party hasn’t reached out to the hip hop culture, to paraphrase RNC Chairman Michael Steele.
The GOP needs to look at the principles of the Bush years — big government, perpetual war, big business favoritism — and ask whether those are principles worth defending. I hope that the party big wigs realize that they are not, and will return to the creed of the Taftite Old Right, of limited government, anti-imperialism, and traditional morality — in a word, anti-statism.
The political candidates who have gained positive momentum in recent years — Barack Obama, Ron Paul, Sarah Palin — did so because people saw them, rightly or wrongly, as new and interesting. These candidates weren’t hung up on being cool. In fact, Palin’s populism and Paul’s constitutionalism are, by most contemporary standards, decidedly uncool. But those candidates were genuine, unlike Grassley.
Some might say that the tide is already turning on the Democrats, that recent polls, increasingly favorable to Republicans, show that the whole “death of the Republican Party” line was hugely premature. But even if the Republicans do beat Obama in 2012, so what? Victory would come by default, the result of the president’s failures, not of the Republicans’ popularity. We can have a President Gingrich who bombs and bails just as much as Bush did, while government continues to grow. In that case, who cares whether there’s a Republican or a Democrat in the Oval Office?
Republicans need to realize that their failure was substantive, rather than aesthetic, and that it is their substance, not their aesthetics, that they need to change. But don’t count on them recognizing that. As Chuck Grassley might say, “OMG were so screwd.”