Armey and the Dead Skunk

Here’s Dick Armey in the WSJ today on the future of the GOP:

Moving forward, my advice to Republicans is simple: Don’t go back and check on a dead skunk. The question Republicans now need to answer is: How do we once again convince the public that we are in fact the party many Democrats successfully pretended to be in this election? To do so, Republicans will need to shed their dominant insecurities that the public just won’t understand a positive, national vision that is defined by economic opportunity, limited government and individual responsibility.

We need to remember Ronald Reagan’s legacy and again stand for positive, big ideas that get power and money out of politics and government bureaucracy and back into the hands of individuals. We also need again to demonstrate an ability to be good stewards of the taxpayers’ hard-earned money. If Republicans do these things, they will also restore the public’s faith in our standards of personal conduct. Personal responsibility in public life follows naturally if your goal is good public policy.

Besides the obvious impact on the House and Senate, Tuesday’s elections will no doubt redefine the Republican field going into early presidential primary states like Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. It will be up to grassroots activists in those battlegrounds to establish a constituency of expectations that anyone aspiring to be the next president of the United States must satisfy. To voters I say: Demand substance and you will get it. To Republican candidates for office I say: Offer good policy and you will create a winning constituency for lower taxes, less government and more freedom.

I like that phrase, “a constituency of expectations.” The biggest mistake the Republicans made on the way to their ultimate demise was the nomination of George W. Bush in 2000 — the ultimate “soft bigotry of low expectations.” That’s the elephant in the room people have been unwilling to talk about until now: that Bush has been a disaster for conservatism.

But, in 2008, we get the chance to make amends.

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