Let me begin by saying yesterday was a great day for the conservative movement in this country. I’ll also repeat what I’ve written elsewhere: that hindsight is 20/20, and that even though we didn’t realize this back then, the election of Obama to a 2nd term in office was the best thing that ever happened to the conservative movement and the republican party specifically. It gave the rest of the country a chance to test liberalism to the fullest extent. It was tried, and it was found wanting. This doesn’t mean that all the indies and moderate dems suddenly like republicans now, but it does mean that many of them realized they had nowhere else to turn and therefore had to vote republican yesterday.
However, just being the party that rejects Obama and his liberal vision for America isn’t enough, we have to draw a strong contrast and give people a clear alternative vision for the country. If we don’t, they’ll just go back to the democrats in 2016. Some people, even here on redstate I see, have argued that Scott Walker’s strategy and message is the model we should use in 2016. I agree with that to some extent, since it’s been so effective for him in not only defeating the unions but winning a statewide election three times in a purple state, with money from liberals pouring in from all over the country to defeat him. But there’s another strategy and message I believe would be even more effective than Walker’s, and it comes from another gop governor from a purple state who not only won re-election, but won it by a bigger margin than I can ever remember coming from a gop governor in such a state. I’m referring to Governor John Kasich.
Now I know he upset many conservatives when he mentioned his support for the Medicaid expansion under Obamacare, and to be clear, I disagree with him on that policy. I suspect a certain number of my fellow conservatives won’t even hear me out about this message because it came from him, and that’s ok. But we have to be able to agree to disagree on certain issues if we wanna widen our base without compromising on our core principles and beliefs. So for those of you who are able to listen to a message while not agreeing with the messenger, I ask you to indulge me in this hypothetical scenario where a 2016 gop nominee runs on the message I’m about to describe. Whether or not Kasich himself runs and would be the best messenger is up for debate, but that’s a secondary debate we can have. The more important debate is about the message itself, because that will define our party in 2016 and for years to come and could shape both the political landscape as well as the laws in this country.
If we’re gonna win in 2016 we need a new message as a party, and we need a new messenger. But the message is key, cause if we have a good messenger with the wrong message, which they got from listening to gop establishment strategists, then it doesn’t matter how good the messenger is, they’ll still lose.
I believe kasich’s strategy in OH is the one that will give the gop the best chance to win the presidency in 2016. He didn’t back down from his conservative views on social issues, but he didn’t spend much time talking about them either. His campaign was focused on the success of his conservative policies like lowering taxes and reducing regulations on businesses, which brought a bunch of new businesses into the state and create many good new jobs for people. But instead of just talking about how he helped those businesses, he talked about how his goal, and the end result of helping businesses create jobs, is to help the average man and woman in Ohio provide for themselves and their family with better jobs and a higher quality of life. He also talked about the programs in Ohio that help the less fortunate, but not from the perspective of Obama and liberals, which is that the gov’t knows best and can replace the church and family in our communities. Rather, his perspective was a Christian one, showing how the gov’t can be used as a force for good because it’s our duty as Christians to help these people, and that duty remains for the people like him who are elected to office. He didn’t say the gov’t should have more influence though, he simply said that when the gov’t has the resources to help these people, and when the private sector can’t or has failed, it should step in and help.
The GOP needs to talk about how it desires to help blue collar workers and those with addictions or mental illness, and can do so more effectively and with less money than the dems cause unlike them, we don’t just throw money at the problem. We can create programs that involve local people in the communities that need our help, and also unlike the dems, we’re fiscally conservative and therefore will make sure there isn’t waste and that budgets will still be balanced. We’ll cut programs that aren’t working or aren’t necessary, and sometimes even entire gov’t agencies that fit that description, and that will free up enough money to help the people in the shadows as governor kasich said, the people who fall through the cracks who still need gov’t help because they have no family to help them and their community has failed them.
My experience as a conservative on food stamps has shaped and re-shaped my thinking on the role of gov’t in helping the needy in our society. It made me realize that the [mc_name name=’Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’P000603′ ] (R-KY)92% libertarian approach to gov’t is the wrong approach because it forgets about the people who can’t be reached or just aren’t seen by the private sector. They’re usually living in isolation, and their problems just aren’t known to the rest of society. I am one of these people. I had no family and friends who could help me due to their own financial and medical problems, and I simply couldn’t afford rent, and there were no charities just giving out money for rent. I’ve worked hard for years but had to quit my job due to having a chronic digestive disorder that prevents me from functioning at a high level. I needed food stamps, disability, and insurance ( to help cover the cost of my chronic disease), and the gov’t provided all these things to me when no one else could, and which I desperately needed.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not making the case for more gov’t and increasing gov’t handouts. On the contrary, like governor LePage of Maine has said, we need to scale back the safety net programs in order to cut out the waste and abuse that are rampant in them so that there’s enough money left to be used by the people who truly need these programs. He would know, he grew up in poverty just like I did.
We have to change the stigma surrounding people who rely on the gov’t, and separate the people who abuse the programs from the people who truly need it. We also have to show that we can use the gov’t to help these people through our safety net programs while not feeding into the culture of dependency they’ve created and keeping the budget bloated. We can do this by targeting them to specific groups of people and finding better ways of screening out the frauds and lazy people, which can be done, it’s just that Obama’s administration hasn’t even tried to do it. Plus, like i mentioned above, we can give the federal money directly to local charities, businesses, and communities so they can make sure it gets to the individuals who’ve fallen through the cracks of society, rather than making everyone who needs help go through all the red tape of the fed and city gov’ts, which is what we’ve been doing all these years, and clearly have been failing at. This doesn’t mean we diminish the role of charities, churches, and other groups and organizations in communities. Rather, we’re supplementing them and aiding their roles in lifting up their communities. They’re the first line of defense after families of course, and the gov’t should be the safety net, only using its resources for the people who’ve fallen through those first lines of defense, as I have. This brings up the issue of the breakdown of the family in modern day America, which is the root of the problem when it comes to our increased gov’t dependency as a society, but this is a separate issue that I’ve written about often in the past. The fewer broken families we have, the fewer kids we’ll have who grow up to be adults that depend on the gov’t cause either a)they have nowhere else to turn or b)they weren’t taught how to be self-sufficient and all of the habits and values that one needs to be a successful adult in this country. But until this problem is remedied to some extent, we have to do what we can as a gov’t to help the people who are victims of this epidemic. Again, I speak from experience as the son of a single parent mom whose father abandoned him and his brother at birth and could very well have been aborted.
We have to get rid of the idea that we have to have big gov’t in order to help the less fortunate, with a bloated and inefficient bureaucracy and large group of central planners. We can have a small, efficient gov’t that is still capable of helping these people, while also balancing the budget. Yes, we wanna help businesses and boost the economy in general, but we can’t forget about the people who need help the most, who have already been forgotten by society.
As it turns out, we can do both. We can help businesses succeed by cutting taxes and removing excess regulations, but we can also help those less fortunate people. It’s time to retire this dual narrative that the gop is the party of the rich and big business and the dems are the party of the poor and the working class. Why does there need to be this class warfare, this political dividing up of the classes in this country? The gop can be the party of both the rich and the poor, because when we help the rich, we help the country prosper, and when we help the poor, we help the country prosper.
As Friedman said, economics isn’t a zero sum game. We don’t have to make life harder for the rich or take more of their money in order to help the poor. The 2016 GOP nominee should run with a motto such as this: “As president, i promise to be different than gw bush because i won’t be a compassionate conservative, I’ll be a smart, fiscally sound, compassionate conservative, and that will be the difference between having a federal budget surplus and a budget deficit and debt.”
There will always be a group of people in society who need help, and we have to have a logical and respectful debate in this country about what the gov’t can do to help them. The GOP’s message should be that we’re gonna be there to help them this time. We’re gonna cut spending overall, but that’s not gonna prevent us from reaching out to the untouchables in society. We can find creative ways to partner with local communities, businesses, and charities to make sure the money spent by the fed gov’t will reach these people and be used effectively. Up til now neither gop nor dem presidents and their administrations have done this. If they spent money then it either went to their cronies or political supporters without making sure it went to the individuals who need help, or they cut spending without making sure the cuts didn’t end up hurting the people who needed help. In the past we (the gop) just helped businesses and thought that would be enough, because they create jobs, and if everyone’s working then we’ll prosper as a society. But not everyone can work because a certain percentage of the population has problems that are so bad they prevent them from being functional adults. These people need help, and we have to ask who’s gonna help them? Is the private sector gonna do it? Sometimes it can, but only if they’re aware of existing programs, and many aren’t, or aren’t willing to reach out and ask for help. But in many cases there aren’t programs available to help these people, whether they’re drug addicts, people with mental illness, homeless people, veterans with ptsd or traumatic brain injuries, etc, and even if there are they can’t afford the help they need.
This is where the gov’t can play a role without breaking the bank. All along we’ve been presented with this false choice that we either have to be like the gop of the past and cut all spending and not care about the hard workers and the needy (only perceived that way, but in politics especially, perception is reality), or like the dems and just throw money blindly at problems and waste it in the process, while pretending to care about the little guy. The truth is we just need a presidential candidate who has the guts to speak the truth to the american people about the problems we face and what’s necessary to solve them. This requires him or her to take on the status quo in both parties and to say the following: we need to cut federal spending drastically, and we need to also cut taxes, but we can’t cut all the programs for the poor and elderly. Instead, we have to find a way to make these programs financially sound, while finding other areas of fed spending that can be cut, and there are many.
How we do this? It’s not as hard as it sounds. First, we can drastically cut the budget of the EPA, who have overreached and wasted tons of your taxpayer money. We could zero out all foreign aid to other countries and start from scratch, making each country prove they’ll use any money we give them for specific purposes that align with our interests, otherwise it’s a waste of our money. We could get rid of the dept of homeland security, privatize the TSA and other agencies who have shown themselves to be completely incompetent, and block grant funds for medicare and SS back to the states so each governor can use them much more effectively, instead of having a one size fits all approach that’s been going on for decades with both parties. Furthermore, we could completely transform and upgrade our energy policy by building the keystone pipeline and using nuclear energy, so we would no longer rely on middle eastern dictators for our energy. This would save us tons of money and bring in a huge stream of revenue to the govt, which would allow us to provide the programs and resources I mentioned earlier to the needy people around the country.
I believe if we spread this message across the country in 2016 we can win, the only question is, are there enough principled conservatives left in the GOP who have the guts to speak honestly about these issues, while also having the character necessary to risk defeat by not deceiving the american people? Is America ready for this message after 8 horrible years of a far-left president or is it too far gone? There’s only one way to find out . . . .