With the GOP's star temporarily in retrograde, everyone is chiming in on what ails the Republican Party and how to fix it. Reagan is dead, according to Jeb Bush. The right's stand on social issues is what's killing the party, says Olympia Snow. Howard Dean has declared capitalism a failed experiment (I love the degree of utter historical ignorance needed to make that statement). People want big government and lots of social spending according to Paul Krugman. Rush Limbaugh is killing the party, according to Colin Powell. Have I missed anything? Oh yes, become like Britain's Tory Party. That was today's helpful suggestion from James Forsyth of the UK's Spectator Magazine.
Mr. Forsyth's suggestion is based on his assessment that Republicans of today are similar to the Tories of 1997, when the Tories suffered the most decisive electoral defeat in British history. According to Mr. Forsyth, if Republicans merely tone down the social conservatism, or make of it an economic issue rather than a moral one, as Tories are trying to do in Britain, then perhaps Republicans can revive their party. If you don't follow British politics that closely, it sounds like a reasonable suggestion. But the truth is that the Tory Party has repackaged itself as a light version of the socialist Labour Party and it is reasonable to expect that, while they will assuredly win the next election, they offer no viable solutions to the serious problems Britain is experiencing.
The Tory Party came to power in 1979 under Margaret Thatcher. She worked tremendous changes in Britain (a short recapitulation of which you can read here) until she lost an intra-party fight as leader of her party in 1990 over her opposition to further integration in the EU. John Major took her spot, but a series of problems led to an absolute trouncing of the Tories in 1997. There are at least three similarities between Britain of John Major's days and the Republican Party of today. Most importantly, there were severe economic problems that occurred on Major's watch. Interestingly, the worst of it, Black Wednesday, George Soros had a major hand in creating. Further, the Tory brand and their claim to family values became tarnished through a series of widely publicized scandals - most of them sexual. And lastly, the press, led by the BBC, and academia were virulently liberal. These at least mirror some of the problems Republicans have suffered through over the past few years.
So how is it now that the Tories stand on the precipice of power? A part of it is, as Mr. Forsyth suggests, that Tories have recast some conservative issues, such as marriage and children born out of wedlock, on economic grounds. But he ignores that the Tories have gone much further, in many cases adopting Labour policies and punting on the really big issues. For example, the Tory Party still has not taken a firm position on the two existential issues facing Britain, whether to allow the people a vote on the EU's Lisbon Treaty - which saw Britain surrender its sovereignty to the EU - and what to do about the problems of open border immigration and the massive Muslim influx.
Beyond that, in many cases, its been the Tories who have tried to outdo the socialists on avant garde issues. For example, not only have Tories jumped on the global warming bandwagon, but David Cameron's advisor on issues dealing with green policy was a key witness advocating that three people who sabotaged a coal plant last year should be found not guilty. When Bishop Nazir Ali went public with charges that there are Muslim areas in Britain that have become enclaves non-Muslims dare not tread and that multiculturalism was an abject failure, it was the Tory Shadow Minister who was the first to call the good Bishop misguided. And it was just a few days ago that another Tory Shadow Minister appearing on a BBC game show threatened to kill Carrie Prejean because she spoke out against gay marriage - such is the Tory attitude towards free speech and their embrace of the most radical gay agenda in the Western world.
Tory popularity today is not because of their "conservative" policies, its because the Labour Party has bulloxed up the country economically and pursued radical social policies that have, one, attacked Britain's proud history, and two, that have made a multicultural mess of the country. The Tory Party does not present a real choice for the British electorate, unfortunately. And nor would a Tory model present a reasonable model for the Republican Party.