Stanley answers the “What is a Republican” question

Bill Stanley, candidate for chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia, sent the following letter out to potential delegates this evening:

Since announcing my bid for Chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia, I have received many emails from Republican delegates telling me they like what I have to say regarding my vision for RPV. But, they also have questions.

I thought it might be helpful, as well as save some time, to answer the question I receive most often in an email for broad distribution. This way, my fellow delegates can hear my views and learn where I stand.

The question I get the most often is best represented by the email I received below, from a delegate in Northern Virginia. I hope you find my response helpful, and I encourage you to write or call me if you have questions about my agenda for a strong, conservative, and winning Republican Party.


Do you agree with those who say that for the Republican Party to win again, we have to take the advice of people like Colin Powell and move to the middle, especially on social issues? If you are Chairman, will there be a litmus test for Republican candidates?


With all due respect to General Powell, I don’t think he could be more wrong on this point. The most surefire way to send Republicans into permanent minority status is for us to ignore, abandon, or attempt to conceal our core conservative principles, on any issue. As a pro-life, pro-traditional marriage, pro-2nd Amendment Republican, I am very solidly conservative on social issues. Yet, my views on these key issues are not the primary basis for my disagreement with those who want to emulate the Democrats on these subjects.

First, doing so would break faith with our grassroots volunteers and members, who overwhelmingly want their party to promote traditional values on life and marriage, and protect our Constitutional liberties, including the 2nd Amendment. They know that our party exists and succeeds based upon commitment to principle. They also know that abandoning these views for convenience will not improve our prospects at the polls.

Second, even with the American population at large – let alone with the GOP specifically – conservative positions on key social issues still remain the majority view. It therefore makes no sense for us to apologize or shrink from them. While our Party should not conform its positions to match public opinion polls, it is reassuring to know that polling often demonstrates the electorate shares our views on economic and social issues. A positive conservative agenda that protects life, preserves liberty, reduces government intrusion and spending, and enhances opportunities is popular with the voting public.

Third, look across the aisle. The Democrats make absolutely no apologies for their extreme left-wing views. Indeed, they remain unyieldingly dogmatic about all of them. In the last two presidential elections, they selected as their nominee the person who happened to be the most liberal member of the United States Senate. Then, they forcefully attacked anyone who had the temerity to point out or express disagreement with his extreme liberal views. It remains a mystery as to why some of those entrusted with leadership positions in our party failed to similarly demonstrate the courage of our conservative convictions.

In large measure I see the current debate over our party’s “identity” to be a false issue. It has been most notably promoted by the mainstream media, seeking to divide us and weaken our confidence about who we are as a party. Sadly, some in our party have learned the corrosive lesson that the quickest way for a Republican to receive media attention and acclaim is to attack, discount, or dismiss the views of our party’s base.

You now see an occasional movement – again championed by the media – to abandon the model of Ronald Reagan. For our party, doing so would be a catastrophic mistake. Yes, President Reagan’s success began over twenty years ago. But since that time, Republicans have struggled to emulate the success of President Reagan, who was unapologetically conservative yet governed with his party largely unified and foundationally strong. We do not need to find a new Reagan, we just need to remember and emulate his example of leading by principle. He gave meaning to those principles by connecting the importance of the right to life, liberty, and property in public policy to the everyday lives of Americans.

Ronald Reagan enjoyed the strong support of our party’s base. They chose him – long before the party leaders at that time accepted him or welcomed his supporters. This is the true litmus test for those seeking our party’s nomination: can they win the support of our activists and volunteers and, and, with it, our nomination? As a grassroots party, we cannot have party leaders and higher-ups telling the grassroots who to nominate or support. As demonstrated by our own nomination contests, not every Republican agrees on every issue. As a party that is bound by an underlying philosophy, we should expect there to be differentiation on a wide variety of issues. But, our common views dramatically outnumber our disagreements.

By the same token, we will never succeed as a political party if some join forces with our liberal counterparts in the press and Democrat party to attack our conservative candidates or positions. Our conservative base is the foundation of strength in the Republican Party, and it can never be abandoned if we hope to restore the vision of our Founders of a nation built on ordered liberty.

As Chairman, I will never shrink from defending our GOP platform on protecting innocent life, preserving traditional marriage, or promoting the Constitution. As a party, we need to understand that adhering to these principles improves – not hinders – our prospects for victory.