Originally written November 19, 2008.
Moderates by their very nature avoid conflict.
For this reason, they spent the last 20 years operating in the shadows, sacrificing principle for the comfort of power as the radicals stomped across the landscape. They said all the right words and when necessary attended the appropriate services at the chapels of venom.
In 2000, when their standard bearer, John McCain was publicly flogged by the so called righteous, they said little.
For 8 years, they stood aside as their bloody brethren ripped at the Constitution - wetting their talons with torture and imprisonment.
In 2008, finally some ventured to speak against yet another disastrous choice and were met by a mob carrying stakes and kindling.
The witch fires have illuminated the shadows. There can be no more standing to the side as the looming beast now feeds on its own.
The beast is a chimera of many parts and it is on these parts which you must strike.
Sarah Palin - Fortune made her the face of the radicalism. She is not as some say unintelligent. Her weight on the campaign was not a lack of intellect but a lack of intellectual curiousity. It is not that she doesn't know the participants in the North American Free Trade Agreement - it is that she doesn't seem to care. She embraces the spirit of know nothingness which now grips your party. This standard bearer must be banished or you will wander in the wilderness for generations.
Abortion - You have lost your voice because those under 30 no longer hear you. They consider this most divisive issue settled and wish to move forward. If due to personal belief you must remain with this issue, you must concede reasonable exceptions. To do otherwise will guarantee those you need most will simply pass you by.
Talk Radio - Recently the voice of the beast was asked if there is room in the Republican party for moderates - Rush Limbaugh responded "We want their votes but they'll never be one of us". A brighter line was never set. If Democrats are the enemy to be fed upon, moderate Republicans are merely the ground the beast walks across. Limbaugh, Hannity, Coulter, Malkin and all those who cry for blood must be rejected. You must stop appearing on their shows. You must stop parroting their insanity. The last two elections have shown the market is rejecting their brand of rabble rousing. Assist the market in hastening their demise.
The Despair of KnowNothingness - Reason must prevail over the heart of the beast. If someone asks you if you believe in evolution, you must say yes, but you leave these issues to science and it does not bear on faith. If someone asks you if you believe in global warming, you must say yes, but add the task will be difficult and we must seek solutions that better us all. You must discount the brand of dishonesty which claims to hold the one true knowledge at the expense of those whose life work is the quest for knowledge.
Now, it is on this ground where you must fight - for it is good ground.
Gun Rights - Heller rightly established the Second Amendment as an individual right and not a collective one. You will find allies across the ideological landscape who are gun owners and believe that owning guns is not a sin. But do not seek them in the halls of the N.R.A. Seek them in the hunting camps of Georgia, the small businesses in D.C. and the indoor target ranges of L.A.
Property Rights - If Heller was absolutely right, Kelo was absolutely wrong. The mere idea that the government can swoop in and take a person's property without a fare-thee-well is more abhorrent than any of the issues the radicals put forth as critical. Forget promising platitudes of nominating judges who rule on "strict construction". Promise judges who understand that as with guns, property is a right of the individual and not the collective.
Business - If you must be the party of business then do so. There are plenty of people who understand the economy doesn't work without big business. But also be the party of small business. It may be the Wal-Marts which make our nation a partner in the global economy, but it is the mom and pop restaurants which make every small town in this country a partner in the whole's greater success. Support small business loans. Support microloans. Offer support to all rungs of the ladder and those who you need most will help raise that ladder to new heights.
Spending - Yes, we must talk about taxes but for the love of all that is good, let us talk about spending first. When John McCain talked as a spending hawk, CNN's fancy dial-a-vote devices went through the roof. When he wandered back into the land of the beast, they fell through the floor. The people want smaller government. They want more local control. They will understand the hard choices to be made. Instead of promising a tax chicken in ever pot, promise we won't have to sell Oregon to pay off the Chinese. It is for their children and their children's children. Every parent understands sacrifice to make the next generation's world better. Talk to your constituents like the adults they are and they will listen.
Not that long ago, I had a conversation with Republican State Senator David Shafer. We met in a not unusual way. He disagreed with something I wrote on embryonic stem cells. Sen. Shafer and I agree on nothing about right to life issues. However, once we set aside that deadly conflict, a conversation emerged on the future of Grady Hospital. I learned more about the issues of local health care in this half hour conversation than any number of position papers, activist marches and stormings of the Grady board meetings ever taught me.
All it took was momentarily setting aside the differences in order to discuss areas where we agreed. It was in that country, not yet touched by the beast, where we not only found common ground but solutions.
It is in these refuges of reason where the battle can be won. But first you must be willing to make your stand. The time for the stalwart has come. The engagement is at hand and the decision must be made - do you fight for this good ground?