Predicament indeed. There has been much talk over the last 100+ days of the Obama administration and the filibuster-proof Senate and the radically Left House... and the stampede towards 2010 by the GOP. Along the way, the GOP has been leaderless in effectively stopping the Left from Nationalizing Industry and further bankrupting the nation... two policies fully supported by GOP leadership under George W. Bush.
The question becomes this: Does the GOP aim to regain power, or regain the right?
The way this simple question is answered will determine the future of the party - both for attracting next generation members and retaining those members with a current stock in the party.
If the aim of the GOP is to regain power for power's sake, then we are no better than when we were governmentally whorish under Bush. The last eight years saw the largest expanse of the US government, the power of the government over the people, and the largest buildup of debt ever. This has become the brand of the Republicans. We may claim that we were simply unable to stop the Democrats from spending - but facts show that earmark after earmark came from the right just as much as from the left... The holes in the sinking ship were drilled by both parties, with their respective special interest.
If the national party aims merely to regain control without first obtaining the clarity needed to lead, we may succeed as a party for the short term, but lose as a nation in the long term.
Our focus must be on regaining the right. I have commented in the past on guidelines needed as we clean house in the GOP - but perhaps it is simpler than that... simpler than "radicalizing", as I called it... it is simply returning to the basic Libertarian ideals that drove this party forward (though in the minority) under Goldwater. We regain our big tent status not on the back of the Christian Right, but on the principles of Liberty...
That is to say, success as a party needs to begin with identifying State's Rights, Small Government, Fiscal Conservatives who are Socially Libertarian - believing that a TRUE small government does not dictate social values - especially at the federal level. Those candidates who truly believe that the Federal Government was intended to be a limited body, yielding all powers NOT granted in the Constitution back to the People and the States, respectively... words directly pulled from our Bill of Rights.
Our party has lost its way, falling for the liberal idea that government is the answer... In fact, succumbing to this mindset and using government to force social agenda has backed the GOP into a corner of constant "moral crisis" when any member of the party falters in their personal life - garnering more media attention than, say, criminal violation of federal tax laws by top level Democrats in Obama's administration (violations that would make Al Capone blush).
Government is NOT the answer - and never should be. That should be the Republican Mantra. We should promise to cut the size of the government by X% each year at the federal, state, and local level until they return to the roles of delivering the basic services for which their services are required. We should embrace a flat tax, a balanced budget Constitutional Amendment, and the elimination of unnecessary government agencies - such as the IRS, DHS, Dept of Educ., etc...
We need to communicate to the American people the importance of a Small Government Party... and we need to live up to those commitments - not create departments such as DHS.
We need to right this ship by doing what is right... not using the democratic tactic to push our social agenda against the left's. When Republicans act like Democrats, they lose every time. When Democrats act like Republicans, they win... We can take this back by being Fiscally Conservative Socially Libertarian Republicans... The way Goldwater intended us to be.