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The Maryland GOP can win

Following the Nov. 2 election, many have sought my opinion regarding the future of the Maryland Republican Party. I would like to share my feelings on the current standing of our party and my hopes for our future.

For more than 100 years, the Maryland Republican Party has been in the minority. And this year provided no respite. To revisit the failures of the last year, or of the last 100 years, just for the sake of doing so, is not productive. However, to be viable, the Maryland Republican Party must have the courage to diagnose the cause of its woes. In doing so, I believe we will find our wounds to be self-inflicted.

It's no secret that I respectfully disagreed with former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. on policy issues. My hope was to engage in a healthy debate and give Maryland Republicans the chance to select the candidate they felt was best suited to defeat Gov. Martin O'Malley. However, the way the Maryland Republican Party marginalized my campaign and its supporters was shameful. Instead of facilitating an election, they attempted to determine its outcome. They abandoned their principles of fairness and impartiality and very well may have sealed the fate of the party in this cycle.

With that being said, I am a Republican. My sincere desire is to help our party gain credibility in this state. While much attention is being placed on the selection of our party's next chairman, I believe the most pressing issue facing our party is our need to address our identity crisis.

In Maryland, Democrats have performed a minor miracle. They have successfully convinced Republicans that we must not articulate a shared platform, especially when it comes to controversial issues. And at the same time they have succeeded in convincing voters that our implied message, the very message they have persuaded Republicans to publicly abandon, is outside the electable mainstream.

The Maryland Republican Party is a political party, not a social club. How can a political party be afraid to speak in a shared voice when it comes to the political issues of our day? Unless our party defines its principles, voters have nothing to support. How can we expect voter registration to increase, internal morale to improve and donors to participate if we have neither principles nor a compass?

The principles of our party are the very principles upon which our nation was built. They represent the best of our shared heritage. I will neither run from them nor apologize for them. I firmly believe that the majority of Marylanders, and the majority of Americans, espouse the core principles of the Republican Party. We must take pride in our ideas, show leadership and stop running from who we are. It's time we speak in bold terms.

Listed below are six foundational principles summarizing what I believe to be our shared Republican ideals. While not exhaustive, they address the most pressing issues of our time. We owe it to the voting public to provide our positions as well as a ready defense for these beliefs.

Honor and transparency. The most obvious recent failure of our government and of the Maryland Republican Party has been a lack of integrity and impartiality. We are Republicans, and we expect better behavior from our leadership. The Republican Party must distinguish itself as a stalwart for honor and transparency. Failure to do so at any level cannot be tolerated.

Support for the citizen. The American citizen is the greatest force for good in the history of the world. As such, we deserve a government that respects each citizen's right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. All Marylanders must be allowed to climb as high as their talent and desire will take them. Because Maryland's tax burden is already among the highest in the nation, this places an undue burden on Maryland families and businesses. In spite of our record taxes and record spending, we are still facing huge deficits. Our government has a fiduciary responsibility to live within its means, to support free enterprise, to respect private property and to allow the growth of the private sector.

Respect for the family. The traditional family is the foundation of American society. While all men and women are entitled to conduct their affairs as they see fit, we must respect the rights of families to govern themselves. Parents must have the ultimate authority in the education of their children. And public officials may not arbitrarily redefine marriage or any other social structure absent the express and direct will of the people.

Respect for human life. Just as the family is the foundation of our society, respect for the sanctity of life is its lifeblood. This is one of the most controversial issues of our time, but we must not shy away from issues for political expediency. At a bare minimum, abortion facilities in Maryland must not receive public funding, and they must be adequately regulated in order to ensure the health of women.

Respect for the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Our nation is a constitutional republic. The powers of the federal government are limited by our Constitution, and for good reason. All powers not enumerated by the Constitution to the United States government are left to the people of Maryland. And the Bill of Rights, including the Second Amendment, is an integral part of the United States Constitution. We must respect the rights of citizens, especially when it comes to defending themselves and those they love.

Rule of Law: The United States is a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants. Immigration is a vital and honored part of the American experience. Legal immigrants are welcome in America. Illegal immigration must not be encouraged, condoned or supported. We must encourage the federal government to protect our safety and to secure our nation's borders. This is a national security issue, and this is a human rights issue.

In this past election, my supporters and I fought on behalf of these ideals. In doing so, we earned credibility in our own party. More importantly, our shared efforts earned the right to participate in the broader dialogue of all Maryland voters. It is now time for us to fully engage with our own party, to clearly articulate our expectations and to take our message forward.

When the Maryland Republican Party adheres to a coherent, principled and salient message, and it proves to the Maryland voter that it can govern itself, I am convinced the Maryland voter will reciprocate by giving us the privilege of governing our great state.

Brian H. Murphy is a former Republican candidate for governor of Maryland. His e-mail is ----

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