Well, the election is over in a resounding victory for the democrats. It’s time for me to put on my red hat and try and think of ways to get the Republican party back on its feet. We need the Republican party to balance out the democrats or all that power will go to their heads and we’ll be in just as much trouble as we were for the first six years of the Bush administration. Unfortunately, the current Republican leadership is not helping matters. After eight years of tax-cuts that didn’t help the economy at all, the best alternative to the democrats’ giant stimulus package they can come up is… wait for it… MORE TAX CUTS!
Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell recently came very close to seeing the problem before completely missing the point. He warned recently that the Republican party was in danger of becoming a regional, minority party. Given that the latest data shows a whopping 5 states are still solidly or strongly leaning Republican, that would be a resounding “no-duh.” Unfortunately McConnell proceeded to blame the Republicans’ lack of appeal to the rich, the poor, Latinos, and all other minorities as poor marketing. Poor marketing. Really? Republican ideas are sound, you just need to market it better?
Instead of a new marketing strategy, the Republicans need to spend some time, a good long time, and answer these questions: What does the Republican party stand for? Why do they exist? For whom do they exist? The current answers to those questions make any amount of marketing a moot point.
If you were to ask people on the street what the Republican party stands for you would probably get a wide range of issues but the predominant answers would be pro-business, small and limited government, anti-abortion, and anti-gay marriage. This is kind of a scary thought, and it’s no wonder they have been losing in this environment.
When people think about business right now, they’re thinking about Enron and Worldcom, Bear Stearns and Lieman Brothers. Companies who screwed over their customers, employees, and stockholders. Now is not a good time to be pro-business and anti-regulation. Yet the Republicans have not turned from their love of deregulation or offered a plan for non-intrusive yet effective regulations. Human greed makes it impossible for businesses or government to be unregulated. The founding fathers new that, that’s why we have a multi-branch government with plenty of checks and balances.
When people think small government, they have begun to associate it with incompetent government. The Republican president’s response to Hurricane Katrina for instance. They have also associated the Republicans with hypocrisy on this note since their president created a whole new Orwellian-sounding department, Homeland Security, and spent billions of dollars on a war. Small Government does not exist, and the Republican idea of small government simply means that the government isn’t going to help it’s people, it’s just going to increase the size of the military while our bridges fall down. All the actual small-government believers have jumped ship to the libertarians.
It’s sad that the third and forth answers are both anti-answers. What do you stand for? “Well, I’m against this…” This is a problem. Being against something should never overshadow what you’re actually for.
So how do we fix this? Some would say that the Republicans need to move to the left in order to appeal to a larger swath of the population. I don’t think so. We need them on the right to balance out the left, not rushing over to capsize our democracy. What we need is some things that the Republicans can stand for.
First of all, the Party of Lincoln® should stand for equality. They’ve let the democrats walk all over them on this issue long enough by trying to appeal to the “average white person.” That has led them to be associated with racists. The nearly universally white Republican National Convention last year should be a huge wake-up call that America is diverse and we need to assure equal rights for everyone.
Second, the Party of Reagan should be for pragmatic solutions to problems. Let the democrats have pie-in-the-sky plans for America, the Republicans should be the party of simple, elegant and above all competent solutions. They should be the first to speak up when something isn’t working and suggest viable alternatives. Right now the Republicans have no viable solutions and are severely lacking in authority on most of these issues due to the last eight years of gross government incompetence.
Lastly, the Republicans need a goal. They need a plan for where they want to see the country in 5, 10, 50, and 100 years from now. What is the Republican utopia? There isn’t one. The Republican view was that America was pretty good as it was and they were fighting with every ounce of their being to stave off change to the American way of life. Change came anyway. The democrats have a goal, set out in several of Obama’s speaches, of an America where everyone is equal and has opportunities available to them if they’re willing to work at it. That’s a pretty good goal. What do the Republicans have to match that? Do they have a better goal or vision for America?
If the Republicans cannot answer these core questions of identity, they are going to go the way of the Whigs and Bull Moose, and some new party will rise to prominence. The Libertarians seem poised. With a few sane voices, most likely defecting from the Republicans, they could easily rise to replace the Republicans as the new voice of the right. If the Republicans cannot find answers to these questions, or refuse to face them, I will have a hard time not saying “Good Ridance.”