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Hinish – Where Do the Founders Go From Here?

James E. Hinish, Jr.

Regent University

The Philadelphia Society, Williamsburg Meeting

November 24, 1996

"Where Do the Founders Go From Here?"

Ladies and gentlemen, members and guests of the Philadelphia Society:
Welcome to Kingsmill. Welcome to my world.

This weekend you’ve had an opportunity to visit Williamsburg, the cradle of
history­­­the college town­­­and the tourist center….Now you get to see
Williamsburg the resort and the retirement community…I live only a few minutes
from here, near the 13th green on one of Kingsmill’s three golf courses. We are
just three hours from Washington, D.C., but worlds away.

Kingsmill was started some 20 years ago by Anheuser Busch which operates
the brewery and Busch Gardens down Route 60. Should you drive around
Kingsmill, you will notice that many of the byways are named after early settlers,
many of them members of the original House of Burgesses which met in nearby
Jamestown. You can also see the ruins of the Kingsmill plantation. Kingsmill
was named not for the "king’s mill" but for Richard Kingsmill, a large tobacco
planter who built the plantation in 1617. That plantation was home for four
generations of the Burwells who married into the Kingsmill family. I live just two
minutes from the plantation on Burwell’s Green. The post office insists that we
use the address "The Green." I’m convinced it’s because they can’t spell

Before I turn these proceedings over to Stan Evans, I want to offer some
personal observations. And since I’m partly responsible for this meeting in
Williamsburg and fully responsible for the Williamsburg wine you are drinking
with this brunch, please bear with me for a few moments while I add a touch of
pragmatism to this weekend.

My fellow conservatives, we have just survived a harrowing political experience.
Up until this election I thought the Bush campaign was the worst I’d ever seen.
No thanks to Bob Dole and Jack Kemp, the Republicans did manage to hold on
to control of Congress. The GOP actually picked up two seats in the
Senate­­­the final verdict may still be out on a third seat in Louisiana­­­but due in
part to Dole’s losing margin in some parts of the country, the party lost nine
seats in the House of Representatives. (The results in several congressional
races in Texas are still not final.) Yet, over 80 percent of the 73 House freshmen
were reelected. This election clearly ratified the results of the 1994 Republican
landslide which produced a conservative majority across the country. Even
liberal pundits are saying that the Republican controlled Congress is likely to
survive well into the next century. Just imagine how many more congressional
seats might have been won by conservatives had there been a better team
heading the Republican slate!
President Clinton’s winning vote ended up under 50 percent, making him the
first minority two­term president since Woodrow Wilson. Despite most major
pundits and polls predicting a Democratic landslide of up to 15 points, Clinton
proved to be quite vulnerable. Senator Dole lost with 42 percent of the popular
vote, just 7 percent behind the President. Just imagine what the results might
have been had the Republican Party run a stronger ticket!

The question I have to ask is this: at a time when the Republican Party has
become the Nation’s majority party, when conservative candidates have been
winning all over this country in federal, state and local elections, and when the
GOP is recognized as the party of new ideas and intellectual fervor, why did we
conservatives, who constitute a majority and the lifeblood of that party, end up
with the ticket of Bob Dole and Jack Kemp?

The conventional wisdom is that Senator Dole was the only candidate with the
organization, funding and popularity sufficient to win the nomination. Certainly
that is true, as far as it goes. Having been Senate leader for many years and
twice previously a presidential candidate, Dole had the name recognition and the
huge war chest needed to get through the battery of early primaries. Moreover,
he was the party establishment’s favorite, especially within the Beltway. In their
view, good al’ Bob Dole, the war hero and the faithful party warrior, deserved
the nomination. If elected, Dole wouldn’t rock any boats either, an important
consideration to establishment types.

Only Phil Gramm could match Dole in resources; but, with a personality
somewhat less exciting than that wall’s, the Texas Senator managed to lose to
the Buchanan­Dole forces in Louisiana and so dropped out early. Steve Forbes
offered some temporary excitement with his call for a flat tax but little else. Pat
Buchanan, running with very limited resources on a bizarre platform that
combined right to life, xenophobia, protectionism and more government
intervention, beat Dole only in New Hampshire­­­never a strong state for Dole.
After that the nomination race was over.

Yet the voters indicated in primary after primary that they were not happy with
the choices. And in our hearts, we Conservatives knew Dole was not Right. Yet
he managed to sow up the nomination early without active conservative
support­­­or should I say, he won with lukewarm conservative approval. The
truth is: Conservatives did nothing to stop Dole when they could and should
have. So why didn’t they?

I must add that I spent over 20 years on Capitol Hill as counsel to ten different
conservative Members of Congress. During that time I worked alongside
Senator Dole and his staff. And I can say without reservation that if Dole ever
was a solid conservative, I saw him only as a master wheeler­dealer, a
compromiser, and a cynic with a sharp sense of humor. To me, Dole was the
epitome of the Washington Insider. With all due respect for his talents as leader
and legislator, I firmly believe Bob Dole had stayed in Washington too long­­­he
had become part of the problem.

Age was not Dole’s defect. He was simply the wrong candidate for the party of
Reagan­­­especially when pitted against the slickest politician of our time. Dole
had no vision for America, and he could not articulate clearly or forcefully a
consistent conservative message. According to the Pew Research Center, Dole
was "one of the least appealing major party candidates in almost four decades."
How could Bob Dole, known as "the tax collector for the welfare state",
convince voters, who were already disillusioned after two presidents had raised
taxes after promising not to, that he intended to cut their taxes by 15 percent
while balancing the budget? He couldn’t. So he wandered from one campaign
theme to another, never convincing, always confusing the voters, until at last,
when it was too late, he settled upon the glaring character defects of the
incumbent. That, at least, caused voters to think twice and the election to tighten
somewhat at the end.

As for Jack Kemp, Dole undoubtedly selected him for the second spot to give
the ticket some youthful pizazz and authority on the tax issue. Unfortunately
Kemp proved to be a dud both as a campaigner and a debater. Hopefully he will
return once and for all to a well­deserved oblivion.

Based on my own observations, I must add that Dole’s Senate and campaign
staffs were an unremarkable lot­­­mostly second­rate loyalists and hangers­on
from the failed Bush candidacy, many of them not even conservative. Little
wonder, then, that the campaign was so inept. It is remarkable, however, that the
results were not more lopsided.

In case you wonder, my own candidate for the presidency was Governor
Tommy Thompson of Wisconsin. (Michigan’s Governor Engler had become a
father of triplets and had his hands too full to run.) Thompson has been a
pioneer on welfare reform; his efforts to voucherize Wisconsin’s education
system are commendable; he has downsized state government and reduced
government regulation. He has a proven record of success as a popular
conservative governor in a liberal state. Tommy Thompson deserved serious
consideration for the Republican nomination, in my opinion­­­and still does, for
that matter. So, in the spring of 1995 I invited the governor to speak in
Williamsburg to test his skills before a partisan audience of curious local
activists­­­and he wowed them! No, Tommy Thompson is no Ronald Reagan,
but he delivers the same upbeat, positive, pro­family message that made Reagan
so popular and so successful a candidate. Moreover, Thompson is a blue­collar
conservative, someone who relates to average voters­­­something the
Republican Party desperately needs!

Needless to say, I was disappointed when Governor Thompson called to tell
me that he had decided to get out of the race before he ever got in. Knowing he
was interested in the nomination, I asked him why. First, he explained he could
not raise overnight the tremendous sums of money it would take to get through
all those primaries; he would have had to start running four years earlier, which
would have prevented him from being an effective governor. Second, he said he
received no encouragement whatever from conservative leaders. That disturbing
news confirmed my suspicions.

I remember calling a few conservative activists in D.C. to find out why they
were not speaking out against the Dole candidacy before it became inevitable. I
was told they could not settle on a candidate that suited them­­­which was
painfully obvious. Governor Thompson was interesting but hardly an exciting
choice. And many of them said they were "afraid" of Dole. What they meant
was that Dole was known to be loyal to those whose were loyal to him and to
remember those who did not support him; so these so­called leaders feared that
if they opposed Dole and he later won, they would no longer "have access."
Ah, what profiles in courage! Lest you all think I’m being too hard on our
Washington brethren, I remind you that National Review described this problem
more eloquently and in stronger language in a recent cover article about "Ronald
Reagan’s Spoiled Children," describing conservatives who succeeded in
Washington but forgot why they were there.

As we know, conservatives failed to rally around any other credible candidate.
Dole went on to win the GOP nomination easily, and Clinton was elected in an
electoral landslide. But the 49 percent of the electorate that bothered to vote
denied the President a clear majority, without which he has no mandate for his
policies during a second term. Might not the results have been different had we
Conservatives indicated our interest in some other potential candidate early on
and then rallied behind someone like Governor John Engler or Tommy
Thompson, Dick Cheney or Vice President Dan Quayle­­­anyone other than
Bob Dole?

Well, my conservative friends, that may be hindsight, but I believe we shall have
another opportunity­­­four years from now. Now that Clinton does not have to
face the voters again, he may give into his own­­­and his wife’s­­­liberal
tendencies; in which case, his second administration will move to the left, and
the voters will react the same way they did after his first two years in office and
elect more Republicans at midterm. Or the President may consider his place in
history, decide to cooperate with the Congress, and accept much of the new
Republican agenda­­­assuming there is one. Such a course would cause
divisions within the ranks of Clinton’s liberal supporters. Or the President, like
Nixon following his landslide victory, may simply be impeached. In any event,
we can expect additional Democratic losses in 1998. The Republican Party
should be in a strong position to defeat either President Gore or Congressman
Gephardt in the election of 2000­­­unless we conservatives manage to blow it
again and allow the wrong candidate to be nominated.

Ladies and gentlemen, now is the time for all good Conservatives to come to
the aid of their party. We simply cannot afford to sit on the sidelines and let
some liberal or compromise candidate win the Republican nomination in four
years. You can be sure that there will be a lot of candidates who smell victory in
2000. Lamar Alexander has already started his campaign. Either Governor
Engler or Thompson, Senator Phil Graham, Fred Thompson, John McCain or
Trent Lott, or Vice President Quayle, or even Pat Buchanan­­­any or all may
decide to enter the presidential sweepstakes. Don’t be surprised if Governor
Pete Wilson or that recently­defeated­but-still­ambitious brahmin William Weld
offers himself as the moderate choice. We Conservatives must choose our
favorite early and commit ourselves wholeheartedly to his success.

And let us not select another Washington insider! Every time we do, we
Conservatives are the losers. Remember: Nixon gave us wage and price
controls and Watergate. Ford brought us Vice President Rockefeller and Justice
Stevens and finally Jimmy Carter. Bush sold out his Reagan legacy for a tax
increase; he had no vision and no message. And Dole’s vision was myopic and
his message so garbled that no one could understand it. By contrast, Reagan,
the outsider, had to fight the establishment to get the nomination, and he was
our only real success­­­until his administration was taken over by a crowd of
self­seeking apostates.

Why am I preaching political action to such a distinguished group of scholarly
movers and shakers? I agree with John Willson’s earlier observation that
Conservatives have clearly won the intellectual argument. But that is not enough;
we must gain total political victory as well. The founding fathers, whose writings
we have examined this weekend, were practical men. Although they were not
partisan in the sense of advocating a two­party system, they were political
activists. I am convinced that if they were alive today, they would be urging us
Conservatives to be actively involved in partisan politics, in the hope that we
might revive federalism and restore the Constitutional Republic they once
established. Until the major issues being debated and the policies being
executed throughout these United States are the culmination of ideas from
conservative scholars, think tanks, legislators and community leaders, America’s
fate will remain uncertain and its future course unsteady as we enter the new

Liberalism is indeed dead and dying; only the liberals don’t know it or won’t
admit it. The last bastion of liberalism will be the academy. Even in the media
there are a few prominent conservatives. But we all know that on some faculties
there are no conservatives at all, and those who are hired must act in a
"politically correct manner" and keep their mouths shut. There is no such thing
as a truly liberal atmosphere on today’s liberal campuses. This deplorable
situation will not change unless and until conservatism is widely accepted and
respected in academic circles. University presidents, academic deans and
department heads must come to believe that it is the smart policy for them­­and
in their own best interest­­­to recruit and hire conservative scholars if they want
their institutions to thrive and remain competitive. In short, they must realize that
they’d better include conservatives on their faculties if they want to keep their
own jobs!

We all want to see young conservative scholars, like those we have heard this
weekend, teaching, writing and influencing younger minds on the faculties of
Yale, Stanford and the University of Colorado, and not just Hillsdale, Regent
and Grove City. For that to happen, we must attain political hegemony­­­a not
inconsiderable task but an attainable goal for Conservatives.

Winning control of the Congress is admirable, but this country cannot be
governed from Capitol Hill alone, as Newt found to his dismay. We must also
capture and hold the Presidency, for we cannot succeed without the presidential
veto, the power of appointment, especially to the Supreme Court and the federal
judiciary, and the White House bully pulpit. Conservatives will finally be able to
set the political agenda, the moral and cultural standards, and the philosophical
direction for America, only when we have attained complete success at the
ballot box.

Members and guests of the Philadelphia Society­­­especially those of you who
will be tomorrow’s conservative intellectual leaders­­­I urge you to come down
out of your ivory towers, your corporate suites, your lobbying offices, and your
retirement communities, and become involved in that dirty game of politics. If
you are not doing so already, participate in your local Republican Party. The
GOP may be "the stupid party", according to some, but it offers the only
genuine hope for conservative success. America’s two­party tradition is strong
and enduring­­­and rightfully so, for this nation has avoided the vagaries of
multiparty parliamentarianism. Conservatives waste their time dabbling with a
Reform Party or some other quixotic third­party movement. Whatever
differences we conservatives have with each other can be settled within the
Republican Party framework. Whatever success we shall achieve politically is
possible only through the Republican Party, which, after all, we already

Our course is clear. We must not be tempted to follow the advice of those few
cynics and ideologues who condemn all politics and politicians and advocate
withdrawal from society, or worse, rejection of our system, while complaining
bitterly that America is expiring from judicial activism and libertine excess. Of
course, our society is beset by many evils, and sin will always be with us. But
for rational, God­fearing Conservatives to surrender without a fight to our
amoral and misguided enemies is folly; we should not forget the Christian
message of hope and deliverance. Last night Ken Cribb described with
optimism the emergence of youthful conservative scholars on campuses across
America. I must add that with political victory within our grasp, now is no time
to retire from the fray, however hopeless the struggle may seem at times. It took
liberals sixty years to build this welfare state; it will take longer than just two
years under a Republican Congress­­­or even four years, without the
presidency­­­to slay the leviathan, to eradicate the vestiges of liberalism and to
revive America’s spirit. Only conservatives united in common purpose can
restore this country eventually to its divinely inspired heritage of greatness.

To those of you toiling inside the Beltway, I remind you that there are more
more important considerations than "access" and fundraising. When a
conservative candidate seeks your support, stop quibbling over whether he
agrees with you on every detail so long as he supports your principles and your
goals. Don’t let your commitment to single issues blind you to the overall
strategy of winning elections. Remember that to be successful, a conservative
candidate must address economic as well as social themes; but neither tax cuts
nor term limits nor constitutional amendments can remedy every problem or
cure every ill within our society.

The 21st Century should be the Conservative Century. That will come to pass
only if we work to make it happen. We cannot wait while left­wing statists and
anarchic libertarians regroup. We must become fully engaged if we are to
achieve triumph in the cultural and political wars. We must find a conservative
with a record of solid achievement, not merely years of service, money or
charisma. Once the primary season has begun, we must unite behind that
conservative candidate with the best chance to win the election. We must then
see to it that our candidate is nominated, along with a running mate of equal
soundness and ability, and that the two of them are elected president and vice
president, just as we work to keep the Congress in conservative hands.

The good Lord gives us only so many chances in this life: let’s not miss the
opportunity we shall have in the next four years. There is still time for us to
restore the damage that 20th Century liberalism has inflicted upon our culture,
our institutions, and our moral environment. If we build upon our recent political
successes, if we continue to follow a proactive strategy in both realms of
politics and ideas, if we do not surrender to the false and dangerous notion that
our Nation and Western civilization are hopelessly lost and beyond salvation,
and if we hold to first principles, the next century will indeed be ours, and we
shall experience at last the fulfillment of the Reagan Revolution.

So much for my lay sermon, ladies and gentlemen. I propose a toast­­­here’s to
the unity of conservatives, the triumph of Conservatism the final defeat of
Liberalism and the end of the welfare state in the 21st Century!

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