At the close of the Constitutional Convention on September 17, 1787, as Benjamin Franklin left the hall in Philadelphia, he was asked, “What kind of government have you given us, Dr. Franklin?” He replied: “A republic, if you can keep it.” As Republicans come to Washington after winning in this landslide election, they will ask the American people “What have you given us?” A republic, if you can keep it… Republicans!
Majorities rule in this two-party system of ours. The Democrats, led by the president, had their time to impose the agenda of ever more expansive government. Now, the political pendulum has once again swung the other way. Congressional Republicans have an opportunity to lead us off of the statist path to Bankruptcyville and walk the road less traveled of constitutionally limited government.
But where to begin?
Politicians have this annoying habit of overreacting to any event and attempting to assuage any fears by banally claiming “We must do something!” While specific, focused action is needed, more and more interference via arbitrary legislation is not an effective means to govern, and be perceived to govern, effectively. Never forget, the next election is less than two years away and many more people will pay attention to that one. Perception is reality. The Republican party must act in such a way that conveys courage, stability and control.
People of all political persuasions respond to honest conviction. This is what made Barack Obama so appealing to so many voters. He was passionate about his beliefs and fought against all odds to achieve his goals. Or at least that was the perception. Republicans are in a prime position to harness charisma, take advantage of the zeitgeist and use popular support to direct the nation. Better yet, they have a blueprint for successful governance. Unlike progressive policies that promise much but deliver misery, conservative principles have their foundation in respect for individual rights, the basis of the idea that is the United States. The Constitution, while a bit dusty from lack of use, is the go-to guide for how to deal with the issues of the present day.
My Two Cents:
In many cases my ideology goes further than these recommendations. However, politicians must deal within the confines of political reality. Ideology is about ideas, politics is about winning elections. You cannot govern if you don’t win.
– Allow the continuation of the Keystone XL Pipeline…finally. It has been studied, and studied…and studied. We all hate oil spills. We all love oil (if only through the de facto behavior of driving our cars and using anything made of plastic). Until “clean energy” sources can pay their own way, we need oil. This pipeline is simply an example of a societally approved trade-off between risk and reward in the modern world of industry.
– Immigration reform must occur once existing law has been enforced. Close the border. Not so we stop people once they get into Texas but make it so no one can enter Texas without proper documentation. Deport anyone stopped for breaking the law and found to be in the USA illegally. Next, law-biding immigrants, here to work, albeit illegally, must be identified and put on a pathway to apply for citizenship. Basically, enforce current immigration laws while dealing with the people who have come in while we were not enforcing such laws.
– Communicate sound economic principles about the national fiscal situation. Social security, Medicare, Medicaid, all entitlements are simply borrowing against the future. Fiscal solvency is a fantasy as long as progressive policies promise to give and give in the name of altruistic compassion. The money is not in the vault. There are only IOUs that will soon come due.
– Value the rights of the states and leave social issue oriented legislation to them. I.E. legal pot, abortion laws, same-sex marriage, etc. should be determined on a state-by-state basis.
– The minimum wage is an artificial tool, earned by 2-3% of the workforce, that generates much sympathy. However, this present day government wage and price control is here for awhile. Raising the minimum wage will make Republicans a more populist party which in turn can siphon votes from their progressive counterparts. This could be done under the umbrella of a complete economic overhaul. Such a plan could reduce corporate taxes to stimulate business growth (corporations don’t really pay taxes by the way, you do), lift all sorts of business restricting conditions from the EPA, OSHA, IRS et al., and then look to phase out all wage and price controls like the minimum wage. Again, deal with political reality while transforming our country for the future. Communicate the benefits of supply side economics while defending free market capitalism against the fallacious arguments of those like Hillary Clinton who seek to prey on the rampant economic illiteracy of the electorate. Educate voters, and potential voters, of all economic levels, as to the benefits of free markets. Make it personal. Demonstrate that no matter how much progressives promise, they cannot deliver on those promises. (See the economic data regarding the war on poverty)
– Defend against unfounded attacks on conservatism, free markets, capitalism and the personalities of those pursuing such ends. Racism, sexism, trickle-down economics, tax breaks for the rich, millionaires and billionaires, blah blah blah… The DNC and Democratic candidates have tried it and this time they lost. Stand up to claims of racism or sexism with facts, not further acrimony. Court those voters who truly do not know what Republicans can offer because they have always been told about the evil GOP. Dismiss the epithets against free markets. The USA is the most prosperous, benevolent nation the world has ever known. We have a mixed economy, based in free market capitalism. That’s the evidence.
The reality (ergo, the perception) seems to be that as much as Hillary is the chosen one, she is not a great candidate. Let her make her “businesses do not create jobs“ remarks and she will sink herself yet again. 2016 will be another pinnacle election year, a battle in the war of ideas where voters will once again choose in which direction this country should go. Over the, (less than) next two years Republicans can show us all that there is another way. A constitutional way. They can demonstrate why we should vote for the party of Lincoln and Reagan; They can show us the greatness this country can do so that the darkness before the dawn that has been the last 6 years can give way to morning in America once again.