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THE LAST WORD

Must the GOP compromise on principles to win elections?

Saturday, March 23, 2013 - 12:01 am

I understand the value of compromise. It takes compromise to come to agreements, get things done, end wars and so on.

Politics, as we all know, embodies the art of compromise. But the danger (and sometimes the unavoidable cost) of this “art” is compromising fundamental principles.

In my church, for example, compromising principles is not an issue. We have fundamental beliefs that are essentials in our doctrine, and to compromise on those is non-negotiable. Our church, however, can work with other churches or even secular organizations and compromise in ways that can better our community. Yet in so doing, we don’t compromise the principles on which we stand.

Thus it should be with concern and caution that Republicans across the nation digest the implications of the Republican National Committee’s multi-step roadmap designed to make the GOP more “welcoming and inclusive” for voters.

In a report released Monday, the RNC said the way the party communicates its principles isn’t resonating widely enough and that focus groups perceive the party as “narrow minded,” “out of touch” and “stuffy old men.”

I think people from more liberal churches than mine might say the same thing of my church.

“To broaden its appeal,” the Associated Press story reported Monday, “the party must reach out to minority voters and others, according to one recommendation in the report obtained by The Associated Press.

“When Republicans lost in November, it was a wakeup call,” RNC chairman Reince Priebus said Monday.

According to Monday’s report, “We need to go to communities where Republicans do not normally go to listen and make our case. We need to campaign among Hispanic, black, Asian and gay Americans and demonstrate that we care about them, too.”

The GOP should, indeed, care for all these people. Just like my church should. But that doesn’t mean that we should compromise our principles just to get them to stand under its umbrella. There is no question the GOP must take this hard look at what’s wrong with the party and why it isn’t winning elections. But is the reason it isn’t winning because it isn’t inclusive enough? Because it doesn’t loosen its grip on conservative principles? Or is it because it doesn’t stand strong for the principles that set the Republicans apart from Democrats?

As our editorial stated on Wednesday, some things the party should definitely not do would be to continue to embrace the mainstream establishment and shun the tea party conservative “extremists”; to become “more inclusive” by telling young people, gays, women, Hispanics and other minorities what they want to hear; and “to search too hard for ‘acceptable to the masses’ messages on hot-button issues such as gay marriage, immigration and gun control. Stick to your principles.”

Kerry Hubartt is editor of The News-Sentinel.