From Jim Puckett, former Mecklenburg County commissioner and school board member:
In 1985 the stalwart Coca-Cola Corporation felt the pressure of shrinking market share. In an effort to boost sales, it altered the fundamental formula that had made it a household name and instead became a near copy of rival Pepsi. Polling showed it was the right thing to do, sip tests showed it was the right thing to do and anxiety to do something led Coke to “reach across the aisle” in an attempt to become more like its competitor in hope of recapturing popularity.
History has recorded the outcome. The foundational customers refused to purchase the “new” product and those who favored the alternative taste stuck with Pepsi rather than opt for a facsimile. Fortunately for Coke, their leadership had the good sense to admit failure and return to the classic formula that had made it a worldwide sensation.
The Republican Party has followed the same errant path as Coke. Rather than recognize failure in communicating the principles that made it great, it has attempted to become an uninspired near copy of the Democratic Party. The GOP attempted to become as indulgent as the Democrats, trying to usurp their claim as the party that cares, the party of moderation and appeasement. In a choice between artificial Democrats and the real deal, the people will always go with the original.
The GOP now needs to realize the public will always abandon those who abandon their principles. Like Coke, the Republican Party needs to return to the traditions and principles that gave us the universally revered Ronald Reagan. Forget trying to moderate Democratic liberalism. Go to the public, acknowledge your error, and then rebuild your stock of limited government and free market politicians. People follow leaders, not replicas.
Our government was established on the freedom and willingness to debate contradictory philosophies. The political process of debate and conflict, not conciliatory compromise, refines great ideas and alternatives into the best path for our representative republic. The GOP needs to return to the task of standing squarely for conservative principles, willing and able to battle in the arena of ideas. If we don't, our country's politics will continue to devolve into a virtual one-party system and the tyranny that always follows this course.