Karl Rove said it best. “It won’t be enough to surf voter dissatisfaction with Mr. Obama and Democrats,” he wrote. “Voters will want to know what Republican candidates would do.”
Sure, the democrats in congress and the president are dropping the ball on everything they touch, from unwanted health reform to declaring a working system in light of an AQ terrorist attack on US soil. But it would be foolish for the republican party to sit back and assume that anyone wants to vote for republicans either. Excessive spending, the failure to speak up in support of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and even corruption soured many conservatives and independents in 2006 and 2008. Worse, many in the current republican leadership have either snubbed conservative candidates in favor of flawed liberals, or have failed to show much fight at all in trying to derail harmful legislation.
If the republican party wants to win in 2010, and to win big, they should let people know what they stand for. They should hit these points often, nationalize the election, and have a list to hold themselves accountable for. If they do this, the conservative base will show up, independents will appreciate the clear seperation of democrat and republican policies, and the liberal base will likely remain uninspired.
The following isn’t a perfect list, but it is a start for conversation. It is to be hoped that the GOP will consider putting together a similar list, so that we may know where they stand.
1 – Tax Policy
Americans pay too much in taxes, and what they sacrifice is wasted by bureaucrats in Washington. The current tax system punishes earners for working more (overtime) and for striving to better themselves (one pays a higher percentage of earnings simply for attaining a bette income).
Let us abolish the income tax entirely, and impose a flat, national sales tax. Food items could be exempted, and Americans would enjoy larger paychecks. The government would need to spend within its means, as consumers would revolt in the polls if the government dared touch the tax levels. Why? Because the income tax is purposefuly paid on the opposite end of the year from national elections. The sales tax would be seen by Americans through the year.
2 – Spending Policy
If a businessman spent money above his means like the government does, he’d be in jail. Let’s make the government accountable to the public in a transparent way. Let’s see decisive legislation that outlaws riders and earmarks that spend money that isn’t related to the legislation that they are attached to. Further, let’s allow the president (regardless of party) to have a line-item veto for spending in bills. Third, let’s see actual cuts in spending. Let’s see a pledge to cut the budgets of every federal program and agency by 5% in the first year of a republican congress (minus our military). Then, let’s see a definitive audit of every program administered by the US govt. Included in the audit should be a legal review of whether the program or agency is unconstitutional for overlapping a power reserved to the states. By the end of the first year in office, republicans whould be able to have a sizable list of programs and agencies they have fully shut down.
3 – War on Terror
American citizens have a right to be safe. Foreign entities that wish American citizens harm should be in fear of absolute and devestating reprisals when they take part in the harm of Americans, or attempt to harm Americans. In this light, The following policy should be followed at once by any rational leadership in the US government.
Whereas the Geneva Convention provides that combatant that are “illegal combatants” are NOT afforded any rights under the Convention, and
Whereas Illegal combatants include individuals and groups that are not a part of a recognized military, are not wearing a recognized military uniform during their operation or capture, and are themselves in violation of the Convention,
We require a pledge from our candidates that any such illegal combatants be treated in a manner provided for by the same Convention, to wit – military tribunals without access to the civilian criminal justice system. Further, as the US Constitution applies to US citizens on US soil, and not illegal combatants captured on US (and particularly foriegn) soil, we also require our candidates to deny any constitional rights to such combatants in word and in legislative deed.
4 – Foreign Policy
Candidates should pledge that countries with systems based in democracy and allied with the US should expect the full protection of the US when those countries find themselves threatend. For example, if the Polish, Georgian, or Ukrainian nations find themselves bullied by a country that is at once hostile to them and the US, the US will not renege on a missle defense program that was previously promised. If Israel finds itself under the threat of a nation that has openly threatened to “Wipe Israel off the map”, the US will purposefuly and fully cooperate with Israel to ensure that the offending country never has the capacity to develop a nuclear program.
5 – Many Americans consider many politicians to be corrupt, and for good reason. We often see candidates of both parties engaging in illegal, or at best, unethical behavior. Politicians are willing to accept bribes in legislation to pass legislation that they wouldn’t ordinarily vote for, they get caught cheating on taxes, they get caught engaging with mistresses, lying to their constituents, avoiding town halls, and even breaking their own parlimentart rules. Congress should be an institution that is admired by the people, not one that is despised.
Therefore, candidates should take an oath to serve a limited time in power. Starting in 2010, all candidates will pledge to serve no more than 20 years in either or both houses of congress. For candidates already in office, their time will start in 2010 with everyone else (allowing them to start clean). However, should a candidate attempt to run for an office that takes him over 20 years, the GOP will pledge not to endorse or support that candidate in any way.
6 – Crime Policy
The GOP will push, in a state by state basis, for the following laws to be enacted:
a) First, a truth in sentencing law that requires criminals to serve the time that is actually stated. For example, a criminal sentenced to 10 years serves “10 years”, not “10 do 5”.
b) Second, the GOP will push for 3 strikes laws, requiring that a person on his third felony serve a life term.
c) Third, the GOP will push that every fifth misdemeanor conviction (which must stem from seperate cases), be considered a felony for purposes of the 3 strikes law (a habitual offender law).
The above laws would not take into account juvenile records, and would not be grandfathered to include current offenders.
Thus there would be three laws for each of the fifty states. The GOP should then update and advertise progress on this campaign each year, to keep the GOP accountable.
7 – Education Policy
Parents should be free to choose a school for their children that provides an outstanding education. With that in mind:
Federal funds should be withheld from schools that have low graduation rates, and poor results on standardized testing. Federal funds for education should be withheld from states that do not have school choice programs.
Currently, federal assistance for college students has allowed universities to increase the cost of education to well beyond the means of most families. Universities increase tuition rates, knowing that the government and not consumers will pick up the tab. If colleges were starved of financial assistence, they would either have to price themselves competitively to gain students (and cut wasteful spending for professors who don’t actually teach their own courses), or they would go out of business.
Therefore, federal tuition assistence will be limited to those who have served and been honorably discharged (or are currently serving) from the US military, or the children of Medal Honor recipients.
Higher education is not a right, however it should be affordable. Universities must now choose whether to ake themselves affordable, or to lose their institutions.
8 – Immigration Policy
Businesses that knowingly employ illegal immigrants shall have their businesses closed, and their assets auctioned away. If the guilty business is a local store that is part of a chain, that local store shall be closed and auctioned away.
Individuals found to be illegal immigrants shall be deported within 1 week of being determined to be illegaly in the country. The determination of whether a person is illegaly in the country shall be resolved within 1 week of arrest. The receiving country will be billed for all costs associated with incarceration and transportaion.
States, counties, and municipalties that act to prevent local law enforcement from detaining, questioning, and / or arresting persons for suspected federal illegal immigration violations will not receive any federal funds.
9 – Candidates will pledge to overturn the health care reform package passed in 2009/10. Instead, reform efforts will be made to address tort reform, address how doctors are licensed and can lose their licenses for malpractice, and protecting good doctors from legal harassment. Hospitals should be protected from patients that don’t pay their bills, and medicare and medicaid fraud should be addressed more forcefuly.
10 – Candidate and Party Accountability
Every two years for the next 20 years, the GOP will advertise the following:
a) Was a federal sales tax imposed, AND the income tax abolished in the past year?
b) In the past year, did we see a permanent presidential line-item veto made law? Did we see earmarks and riders made illegal? Did we see a 5% cut in every federal program (minus military spending) in any one year since 2010? Provide a list of government programs and agencies entirely shut down in the previous year.
c) What laws have been enacted to adjudicate illegal combatants in military tribunals, and to ensure that illegal combatants are not protected by the US Constitution, and to classify terrorists as illegal combatants and simply as criminals?
d) What steps have been taken (aside from meetings and “strongly worded statements”) to protect our allies in Eastern Europe from Russian intimidation in the past year? What has the US done to protect Israel from terrorist attacks in the past year? What has the US done to stop rogue nations like Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons?
e) Has the GOP, in the past year, endorsed or funded a candidate that has broken a term limits pledge? Who?
f) What is the progress on passing the three criminal laws in each state, namely “truth in sentencing”, “3 strikes”, and “the habitual offender, 5 mis = 1 fel law”? Has the GOP made progress state by state or not?
g) What has been done to enact school choice in every state? Are federal education funds going to states that deny students a choice of where to go to school with their body and their tax dollars?
Are universities receiveing federal financial aid that would be otherwise unaffordable for the average resident of the state? If so, are those universities being punished by witholding financial aid, or is the federal goverment still rewarding universities for being priced beyond the ability of the average citizen in a state?
h) Are states, counties, or cities still receiving federal money EVEN when those enitities don’t allow local law enforcement officials to take action on illegal immigration? Has legislation been passed to close businesses and auction away their assets when those businesses knowingly hire illegal immigrants?
i) Has the health care reform of 2009/10 been overturned? Have conservative reforms (or just as well, none at all) been put in place?
That’s my (imperfect) list. Will the GOP have the guts to enact a similar list? Will they hold themselves accountable? Because if they do, I beleivethat the GOP can retake the house, and perhaps the senate. While people are sickened by the democrats at this point, the republicans don’t inspire many people beyond the base of the party (and many of them are disillusioned). A list of reasons to vote republican and conservative, along with accountability, would inspire many people to swallow their hatred of politics to vote FOR something, instead of voting “against” something.
Voting “against” doesn’t drive up voter turnout. Voting “for” can skyrocket turnout.
So how about it GOP? Are you listening?