Harmon O. "Buck" Buckland: Consensus is the absence of leadership

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From the replies and comments to this Conservative Editorial Series, it is clear that many do not understand the relationship of conservatives to the Republican Party. While it is true that the large majority of conservatives are Republicans, it is also true that not all Republicans are conservatives.

Ronald Reagan is often misquoted by "moderate" Republicans with regard to "The Big Tent." Reagan made it quite clear that he was extending an invitation to those people who held and adhered to core Conservative tenets "to come under the tent" regardless of their party affiliation. He was quite specific that these values were immutable and that expanding the tent at the expense of principle would only lead to its collapse. Unfortunately, many of the gains made under the conservative-principled leadership of Ronald Reagan and Newt Gingrich have been squandered by the surrender of the Republican Party to those who are not conservatives.

George Bush ran as a "compassionate conservative." We came to find out that this meant letting Teddy Kennedy write legislation to vastly expand the federal government's education bureaucracy and pushing through a budget-busting national prescription drug program while debating how to forestall the fiscal collapse of Medicare! Now, we also learn President Bush plans a bailout for lenders and borrowers related to the sub-prime mortgage fiasco. While President Bush has been right on the War on Terror, his domestic policies have not reflected a conservative philosophy at all. While some seem to want to blame the Republicans' recent problems in elections solely on the Iraq War, I would suggest that straying from conservative principles is as least as much to blame.

In recent national elections, conservative candidates were frequently vilified and defeated in the Republican primaries by a coalition of "moderate" Republicans and crossover Democrats. We are told that conservatives cannot win. I do not believe this for a minute.

The conservative base was deprived of voting for principle and reduced to a "choice of evils," often not realizing that "the evil within who is masquerading as one of the flock" is far more dangerous than the "wolf" in wolf's clothing. I would suggest that so called "moderate" Republicans have done more to destroy the Republican Party than Hillary Clinton, Howard Dean and the DNC as a whole.

Remember Referendum C? We should ask elected Republican senators and representatives, who supported the biggest tax increase in Colorado history, how big this slush fund has grown. They would rather tell you about how they were able to "cross the isle" and get legislation passed regardless of how that legislation would fit into conservative principles. Some of these Republicans were rewarded with committee assignments and chairmanships for their support of these nonconservative measures.

Our Republican governor and several of our Republican elected officials lobbied to support Referendum C and, earlier, Referendum A that had the ear marks of "big" spending for the projects that had or should have been budgeted for in the normal process. The rational given for supporting these referendums was to "bail out" the state financially, specifically for highways and education. There is a lot of work being done on Routt County schools and highways; however, no referendum C money is being spent to fund these improvements. There are other instances which reflect the failure to follow conservative principle by our elected Republican officials which should be a concern, particularly for those who will fill the offices that will be vacated and open for the 2008 election.

It is time for conservatives to take action and to re-take control of the Republican Party.

We need conservative candidates to please step forward.

Buck Buckland is a longtime resident of Steamboat, a Director of the Yampa Valley Citizens for Common Sense, a member of the Conservative Leadership Council of Northwest Colorado and the Heritage Foundation, the former Chairman of the Routt County Republican Party, and a decorated veteran of the U.S. Air Force.

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