My last diary exposed some differences in viewpoint that at times led me to wonder if everybody here supports the same things. So, I thought I would share my thoughts on the direction of the GOP in the near future, issues-wise, and get your input in the comments. I promise not to call anyone on this site names, although I can’t make that promise about everybody in the GOP (for example, Mike Castle is a RINO; there’s just no getting around it).
The GOP, like any major party, is composed of a number of constituencies. Disagreements in the party often form along those lines, and must be dealt with. This involves either a compromise, or one side leaving the GOP. Ideally, the GOP would stick to conservative principles, but there is often disagreement about what those principles are, or even if we should compromise on principle in the hope of attracting more people to the party. It’s a delicate balance. With that in mind, here are my thoughts on the way I would like to see the GOP proceed in the upcoming years with regard to these factions:
I mention libertarians first because they are a key part of the Tea Party, which will be an important party of the party, if not the majority of the GOP, for some time to come. I suppose Ron Paul got the ball rolling, but he also made a lot of enemies in the GOP as older members reacted negatively to the revolutionary nature of his campaign. However, in the big government age of Obama, large numbers of people recognized the harm in the overreach of government, and the Tea Party was born. Despite opposition from the media and perhaps the establishment wing of the GOP, the Tea Party proved to be a force to be reckoned with in the last election, as figures like Bob Bennett, Mike Castle, Lisa Murkowski, etc. were defeated in primaries. Other more debatable GOPers like Jane Norton and Trey Grayson also defeated in primaries. And, a few establishment people like John McCain and Lisa Murkowski slipped through in the end. There were many issues at play in these races, but I would say that the one overarching theme was the debate over the size of government. People voted, in the main, for smaller government in the age of Obama. I hope we can all agree on that. Put simply, if you are favor of a large bureaucratic government, you should not be in the GOP. Democrats will be happy to have you, and we will not shed a tear as you leave (case in point: Arlen Specter). Deficit and debt, Obamacare, etc. are all very real and dangerous and must be dealt with, but they are merely symptoms of the root problem, which is the expansion of government control of our lives. Libertarians have tended to support the party out of power, mostly because the party in power has tended to grow government in the past. They should be welcomed into the GOP, even if we don’t agree on them with everything. If the House can prove that it is serious in rolling back the size of government, they will stand with us.
2. The Establishment
This means many things to many people, and usually refers to whatever the current crop of GOP legislators and party bosses are promoting. In the past, i.e. under Bush, this group of people got a bad reputation because they compromised with the left on some matters of bigger government, including Medicare Part D, No Child Left Behind, bailouts, etc. They did not stand on the principles they were originally elected on in 1994, and the American people threw them of office. Only due to the overwhelming idiocy and incompetence of Obama, Reid, and Pelosi was the GOP given another chance. As many have noted, the recent election was not a wave of support for the GOP, but a restraining order on the Democrats. It will take time to regain the trust of the American people, but if the current congress holds true to the principles they were elected on, the American people may be willing to give us back control of the white house and the senate in 2012. The establishment IS needed to some degree because they understand the inner workings of government and how to get things done. I believe the establishment should hold fast to conservative principles and smaller government. The people have rejected the Democrat-progressive vision of America and do not want us to compromise.
Traditionally, when people think about the constituencies in the GOP, they think of the three-legged stool of Reagan: fiscal conservatives, social conservatives, and defense hawks. One group which doesn’t necessarily fit into any of those categories is business, which can be further divided into big business interests and small business owners. You might think that they would fall under the category of fiscal conservatives, but that is not necessarily true any more. Over the last decade or more, many businesses, particularly the larger ones, have turned to the government for subsides, tax loopholes, and bailouts. I believe this is a major problem in the GOP that needs to be rectified. Another major reason the GOP lost the trust of the people, and now the Democrats have, is that lobbyists made closed door deals with legislators to benefit their specific company. Of course TARP and the bailouts really brought this to a head, with major companies like GE, AIG, and others getting massive chunks of cash at the expense of the taxpayer. The large bonuses these companies gave to their executives, while they may or may not have been sound business decisions, were a PR nightmare. More recently, Obama worked with insurance and drug companies to get healthcare passed, and guess what, premiums are going up, while these companies are doing better than ever. These companies were key in getting the bill passed. I could go on and on about crony capitalism, but the bottom line is that the government should stay OUT of the private sector. No bailouts, government run companies, subsidies, etc. Keep taxes low. Beyond that, if a company can’t make it on its own, it is a bad business model and should not be encouraged. Goverment involvement in running companies is, after all, the very definition of socialism. That’s not to say there aren’t a lot of great business people in the party. But they, like everyone else, should not want other companies to get preferential treatment by the government. The only role the government should have in the private sector is to ensure a level playing field by preventing fraud.
4. Social Conservatives
Social conservatives, of which I am one, have always been a crucial block of GOP voters. Historically, however, they have come into conflict with other groups in the GOP such as libertarians. The debate has raged on both sides between social conservatives who have felt ignored and social moderates who either oppose them on issues like abortion, gay marriage, and DADT, or who simply feel that they make Republicans less electable. There is a fine line to be walked here, and it is difficult to establish any sort of compromise. I would hope that the GOP could support the right to life, while perhaps taking an incrementalist approach to this issue. Babies are dying every day, and while it may make you feel good to take a hard line position on banning abortion even in the case of rape and incest, it will do nothing to save those babies’ lives. Yes, I know, it’s murder. You don’t have to believe it’s ok in some circumstances in order to support candidates who will work to roll back abortions in a way the public can accept. First ban federal funding of abortions, then educate the public on the harmful effects of abortion on women, work to end abortions of convenience, etc. Make it your aim to put Planned Parenthood out of business. This will be far more effective than alienating independents. The other big issue here is gays. For too long the left has been able to use the gay vote to further their agenda. I propose that you can support the traditional definition of marriage, while still treating gays with civility. If you are a Christian who thinks homosexuality is sinful, please go share the gospel with gays and invite them to attend church, rather than wasting your time trying to use government to bludgeon them. (Defending the traditional marriage is fine because it is defense, not offense.) Your efforts will be more effective that way.
This is another area of disagreement within the GOP as of late, due to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan dragging on. Many younger voters are tired of fighting and question why we must spend so much time, blood, and treasure “policing the world”. Other hawks remind us of the threat of terrorism and the need for a strong military as a deterrent to the enemies of freedom and democracy. I would hope that most people could embrace some sort of middle course here. Nobody likes the deaths that occur in war, but we are grateful for their sacrifice. Lets do what is necessary to win the wars now, and then bring our troops home as quickly as reasonably possible. Beyond that, perhaps we should focus more on defense than on offense in the future?
Anyway, this diary is already far too long. What do you think?