If a party mostly focuses on winning the next election, rather than giving voters a reason to vote for its candidates, the likelihood of success is greatly diminished. Electoral victory, like happiness, is usually a byproduct of something more substantive. If winning the next election becomes the only goal and if one's sole platform is "elect us, because we're not as bad as members of the other party," voters will be turned off and either switch sides or stay home.
Some believe Republicans should lose this fall to show the party bosses that its conservative wing cannot be taken for granted. This is Richard Viguerie's argument in an essay in Sunday's Washington Post. About the prospect that "millions of conservatives" might stay home this November, Viguerie, a veteran of the 1980s "New Right," writes: "And maybe they should. Conservatives are beginning to realize that nothing will change until there's a change in the GOP leadership. If congressional Republicans win this fall, they will see themselves as vindicated, and nothing will get better."
Democrats suffer from a similar affliction. Ultra-left groups such as MoveOn.org claim Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., isn't liberal enough, as she cloaks her liberalism with moderate talk for a possible run for president in 2008. The Democratic agenda in Congress is nonexistent. It merely repeats the familiar lines about class and race. Democrats lack new ideas that would benefit the most Americans and move the country forward. The Democratic "policy" in Iraq is to get out. The Democratic economic policy is higher taxes, more spending and bigger government. Republicans aren't much better. Their policy is lower taxes, more spending and bigger government. That's an echo, not a choice.
Conservative ideas, and the policies which they produce, must be debated.
They deserve to be defended, not abandoned.