“The conspiring of many wills to the same end doth not suffice to preserve peace and to make a lasting defense; it is requisite that in those necessary matters which concern peace and self-defense, there be but one will of all men.” -Thomas Hobbes, De Cive
“In a multitude not yet reduced into one person, there remains that same state of nature in which all things belong to all men [i.e., war].” -Thomas Hobbes, De Cive
What Hobbes is saying in this context is that, while it is a good start to have many people desiring the same result, there must be a definitive leader. If there is not, that entity, whether it is a nation or a political party, is vulnerable to attack, from within and without, or retreat.
There has been so much publicized debate and conflict over the leadership of the Republican Party recently. Most of this is perpetuated by the left wing attack teams (read, Rahm Emanuel) and the media. We should not be angry over this, however; we should expect it. Of course the opposition is going to exploit what it sees as an opening–it is beneficial to their agenda. The media (while some would argue are the same as a left-wing attack team) helps to perpetuate it because conflict breeds profit.
The unfortunate arc to this storyline is that the Republicans are playing right into their hand. We have, in a sense, truckled to the Democratic Party’s recent “mandate for change” and groveled to the mainstream media in a strange sort of cultural appeasement. This has led us to further sacrifice our most fundamental principles, which not only vindicates the Democrats’ argument, but makes us look all the more weak for dignifying it.
Democrats have been successfully painting the Republican Party as one that is mean-spirited, vitriolic, and uncaring about the common man. Likewise, in response to these attacks, Republicans have sought to prove them wrong by adopting “compassionate” and “tolerative” platforms. By recognizing their argument and then amending our doctrine to appease the conflict, we have essentially proven their point. But to do so not only makes the party look politically weak, it is a strategic blunder.
Consider our own stance on the war in Iraq: If we abandon our mission, we concede defeat; If we retreat due to popular opinion, we have surrendered. Why are we so adamant about this position, but when it comes to limited federal government, fiscal conservatism, and social responsibility we willingly abandon our principles for the sake of popular compromise? I say that if one can compromise his principles, they were never rightly called principles of his. If we had the same temerity in our political, economic, and social agenda as we did in our national defense, our party would not only be unified, but it would be truly principled. Many people would still undoubtedly disagree with us, but they could never exploit the most disastrous vulnerability of all, a centralized impotence of leadership.
All we need is a leader who can articulate these views in a coherent manner and give equally coherent reasons why the opposition is wrong. He needn’t adhere strictly to Reaganomics, he needn’t be as aggressive as Bush in foreign policy, and he needn’t be as socially conservative as Sarah Palin; he only needs to explain in a concise, articulate, and intelligible manner why Republicanism works, because as it stands right now, Democrats have monopolized the why it works of political theory, and the media and the populace have bought into it. If we can gain such a leader, strong in virtue and articulate in communication, we can recover our loss. If we continue to bicker and quibble over leaders’ popularity versus character, we invite our own doom.