Published in the New York Post on May 9, 2009
Gen. Colin Powell is wrong to say that the Republican Party must move to the center: Now is not the time to try for triangulation.
This is a time for the party to stand firm on its principles until this nation again comes around to the GOP’s way of thinking. This process will be driven by the consequences of President Obama’s program.
The challenge brought by Obama is no longer just theoretical: He means to pass the ultimate leftist agenda and has the votes to do so.
As a result, our nation will be unrecognizable well before the 2010 elections. Business will march to a beat drummed in Washington. The top producers will be hounded by confiscatory taxation. A majority will pay nothing or receive government welfare. Our health-care system will be destroyed. Illegal immigrants will be well on their way to citizenship.
Obama’s brave new world will be the subject of the 2010 elections. We believe that his Congress will be swept from power as a result.
We think that inflation will join a lingering recession — giving us recess-flation — and that high unemployment will continue. Voters will recognize the damage to their health care as bureaucrats weigh in to prevent them from getting the care they need. Our security and defense failures may well have cost us Pakistan, and the nightmare of a nuclear-armed terrorist state may have already come true (even before Iran).
All America will be watching the Obama fallout, and Republicans must be seen as a clear alternative — a strong voice for reversal of the harm the president will have inflicted — if they are to benefit from this catastrophe.
If the GOP is seen as a moderate force, a party just looking to split the difference, voters will cynically conclude that there is no distinction between the parties.
There is a season for triangulation and a season for confrontation. When America faces a new challenge — such as what the financial crisis now poses — we look to the left and right for new answers. We want the debate to rage. Those who seek to paper over are ignored. Such was the fate of the first President Bush in 1992 and of Sen. John McCain in 2008.
But once the debate has raged and the alternatives have been fleshed out, voters want a consensus, a Hegelian synthesis, on how to move in a new direction. They want to extract the best from each alternative and combine them. This is triangulation (a term coined by Dick).
To ignore the demand for synthesis and insist on continuing the debate is to suffer the fate of Sen. Bob Dole in 1996 and Sen. John Kerry in 2004.
This process — polarization, debate, synthesis and action — is how America has always moved ahead. We are not Japan; we use the debate to see the options. And we are not Italy or France; we come to conclusions and act upon them, eventually leaving the debate far behind.
Now another great debate has been born. The thesis is democratic socialism. The antithesis is free-market capitalism.
The Obama Democrats have posed the challenge. It’s up to the Republicans to fight along these lines. Compromise is not an option, yet.
At some point, the synthesis will set in. But now is the time for clear alternatives and sharp disagreement. Only later can we hope to extract America from the leftist clutches into which it has fallen.