Less government is the best advice

Gen. Colin Powell is the walking embodiment of the American Dream. Raised in the Bronx, the decorated Vietnam veteran served as President Reagan’s national security adviser, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under the first President Bush and Secretary of State for the second President Bush. Many people think he would have been the country’s first African American President had he run in 1996 against Bill Clinton.

  • Tuesday, May 12, 2009 4:11am
  • Opinion

Political

Columnist

Gen. Colin Powell is the walking embodiment of the American Dream. Raised in the Bronx, the decorated Vietnam veteran served as President Reagan’s national security adviser, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under the first President Bush and Secretary of State for the second President Bush. Many people think he would have been the country’s first African American President had he run in 1996 against Bill Clinton.

Yet despite his Republican pedigree, he endorsed Barack Obama in October over longtime friend John McCain. Last week he told an audience of security executives that the Republican Party “is in deep trouble” and that “The party must realize that the country has changed. Americans do want to pay taxes for services. Americans are looking for more government in their life, not less.” He advised the Republican Party to head left, toward the center and distance itself from the social conservatives.

Is Colin Powell correct? Do Americans want “more government”?

Certainly in east King County, a moderate Republican like Dave Reichert is going to be more popular than, say, Dick Cheney. But nationally, I think the good general is mistaken. Here is why.

Every time the Republican Party moderates while in power, it loses elections. And after losing, party moderates, echoed by most of the national media, advise them to move even further left.

It happened in 1976, after President Gerald Ford, the moderate alternative to Ronald Reagan, lost to Jimmy Carter, leaving the Republicans in even worse shape than they are today. But the Republicans didn’t move left. They nominated Reagan, the most conservative candidate in the primary field, who won 41 states in 1980 and 49 states four years later.

It happened in 1992, after George H.W. Bush, broke his “no new taxes” pledge, divided his party and lost to Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton. Instead of moving left, the Republicans ran on a mostly conservative “contract with America” in the mid-terms, winning control of Congress two years later.

And today, after nominating John McCain, the most moderate of the Republican candidates, and losing, the Republicans are hearing the same advice. Here instead is what the Republicans should do: get back to the timeless principles that defined working class Republican heroes like Reagan and the late Jack Kemp and offer a clear, positive alternative to Obama’s massive spending, endless bailouts and huge deficits.

And keep in mind that when the Democrats lost in 2004, they didn’t move “toward the center.” They nominated the most liberal member of the Senate, Barack Obama, who inspired the party’s base and offered a better profile for change in a nation yearning for it than 72-year old John McCain, who had spent 22 years in Congress.

I admire Gen. Powell’s countless contributions to his country over the years. But bad advice from a good man is still bad advice. If taken in years past, there never would have been a Reagan presidency, which means The Gipper wouldn’t have been there to bring Colin Powell into the White House more than 20 years ago.

More in Opinion

Trump supporters’ attitude still the same

“Support Trump? Sure,” she said. “I like him.” These words by Pam Shilling from Trump Country western Pennsylvania reflect what many Trump supporters are thinking a year after the 2016 election victory, according to an article excerpted from “Politico.com” by “The Week” (Dec. 1, 2017).

Readers note: Change in comments section

The Courier-Herald has switched to a different online reader-comments platform.

Former fan finished with disrespectful NFL players

I lived off the grid for 15 years and the one thing I missed the most was watching pro football.

Carrying firearms about to change at the state Capitol

If you come to the state Capitol and want to see lawmakers in action, there are a few rules to follow while sitting in the galleries overlooking the Senate and the House floors.

Thank you everyone who made ‘Make A Difference Day’ a success

I want to thank everyone who makes every day a “Make a Difference Day” in Black Diamond.

Seek a sense of security, purpose in our lives

Thousands of years ago, the Greeks and the Romans worshipped a pantheon of gods: Jupiter, Juno, Venus, Mercury, Artemis and Athena. If you search for a list of Greek and Roman gods, they number at least 100. These gods reflected human frailties and their strengths.

Nationwide infrastructure needed to combat Alzheimer’s

Too often Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia are treated as a normal aging issue, ignoring the public health consequences of a disease that someone in the U.S. develops every 66 seconds.

Children of illegal immigrants should stay

You are not “making America great again.” You are just making it more intolerant to diversity.

GOP has no place in small-town politics

Mission creep, according to Miriam-Webster is: “the gradual broadening of the original objectives of a mission or organization.”

Dismantling racism requires radical patience

The other day my friend, a POC (person of color), had to explain to his friend, a white woman, why using the N-word wasn’t acceptable.

Enumclaw mayor deserves a thanks for a job well done

I have always been proud to say I live in Enumclaw.

Clarification on Expo Center funding vote

As a citizen that values our local paper and likes to stay informed about the upcoming elections, I have enjoyed reading the Courier Herald debate for the Enumclaw Mayoreal election.