Since the GOP at a national level is working hard not to define itself in advance of the mid-term elections, perhaps it would be useful to outline a fantasy agenda that might eventually help restore the Party’s health.
– Limiting government involvement in the marketplace to its essential role in managing externalities – crime, fraud, pollution, and violence, and maintaining essential infrastructure.
– Responsibly managing our involvement in global affairs to protect our citizens, preserve our liberty, and promote our values in the world.
– Protecting the age-old right of our citizens to own weapons for their own defense.
– Guarding the boundary between social safety net and entitlement.
– Guaranteeing that our government commitments remain grounded in responsible finance.
– Maintaining a sensible balance in environmental regulation that properly assesses the importance of economic and human considerations along with environmental interests.
– Reminding us of the vital moral and ethical foundation of representative government.
– Maintaining a respect for traditional values in policy making.
– Weeding out public corruption wherever it is found and delivering a government service that is efficient and transparent.
– Safeguarding the sanctity of all human life by maintaining our commitment to the vulnerable, whether unborn children, the sick, the disabled, or those whose identity leaves them exposed to repression by the ignorant or malicious among us.
– Fostering the development of new energy technologies in a way that preserves the market’s role in choosing “winners,” broadens our energy sources including greater use of nuclear power, updates our energy infrastructure, and protects our national security.
– Setting Federal healthcare policy in a way that empowers states to develop their own models for delivery. This would acknowledge that is it difficult to deliver healthcare as a pure market service (like the market for toothpaste), but open up avenues of innovation to preserve every possible element of choice and economic freedom.
– Empower states to innovate in the delivery of social services, education, healthcare, and other local concerns and roll back direct federal mandates in areas that should be left to state and local government.
– Preventing the power of archaic labor unions from strangling economic transformation and development.
– Encouraging legal, “front-door” immigration to add to our economic vitality and competitiveness while protecting the border from undocumented immigration and the drug trade.
– Promoting free trade internally and internationally to increase prosperity and defending trade from the special interests that fear its impact.
– To be the Party of sound, responsible leadership, committed to solving the hardest problems with courage and maturity.
Keeping in mind that some clever marketing person needs to punch up the language, would you vote for that?
Does it seem like there is a lot of room in there for debate, interpretation, discussion, and change? That’s no accident. Can the Party unite around a positive vision of itself rather than screeds against scapegoats? It will have to eventually if it is ever again going to be effective.
What’s missing here? The fear-issues that drive network ratings. Border security, terrorism, illegal immigration, the Islamic Agenda, the Gay Agenda, the UN Agenda, and the numerous other nefarious agendas, plots and dirty anti-American dealings of the left, the foreigners, the Mexicans, Bilderburg, the Illuminati, the Trilateral Commission and Global Communism. Dealing with the nugget of realness that lies deeply buried beneath the garbage of media hype on these “issues” can be accomplished with a commitment to these core goals.
What else is missing? The inevitable pages describing the evils of homosexuality, along with the rest of the Fundamentalist playbook – homeschools, creationism, Christian Nation, and so on. Blather about “taking our country back” or other marching-song lyrics. Revolutionary talk about eliminating the social safety net, the income tax, the minimum wage, or the other institutions that set us up for the prosperity we enjoyed in the 20th Century. And the exclamation points and ALLCAPS.
How does it differ from the Democrats? No bowing to union extortion, no galaxy of economic “rights,” much less talk about managing the economy or cool new government programs, or the need to carve out special considerations for all kinds for individual voting blocks. Far more respect for the importance of our common moral and ethical values in influencing policy. Stepping back from the federalization of health care policy. And none of the language demonizing free trade.
Can the Republican Party tolerate nuance? Well, probably not right now. Can it operate in the South without pandering to Christian Fundamentalists? Probably not right now. But this agenda closely maps the basics you would have heard from Republicans in the 80’s, minus the talk about the Soviets.
In short, this is the portrait of a healthy Republican Party agenda, the one that used to win elections for us. As such, today it looks like one of those “Cities on the Moon” projections from a ’50’s comic book. But keep in mind that in much of the country this remains even now a decent summary of common Republican values. If the Confederate Libertarianism that dogs Republican politics in the South ever loses its hold, we could see a dominant GOP that resembles this picture.
In the meantime, it costs nothing to dream.
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