Any way I look at it, the Republicans are in trouble. Despite the Democrats’ best efforts to shoot themselves in the collective foot, the Republicans are looking worse. They seem to be off in some bizzaro world where facts and objective reality need not apply, egged on by the new faces of the Republican party Glen Beck and Rush Limbaugh. But all is not lost. The Republicans can still come back from this but it will take something that has been anathema to them for close to three decades now: Change.
1) Look up the definition of “Bi-Partisan”. According to Webster’s: “Of, relating to, or involving members of two parties; specifically: marked by or involving cooperation, agreement, and compromise between two major political parties.” Now look at the definition of partisan: “A firm adherent to a party, faction, cause, or person; especially: one exhibiting blind, prejudiced, and unreasoning allegiance.” Which one better describes the Republican Party today? There will always be disagreements between the parties, that’s why we have parties, but the two party system only works if both parties are working towards the same goal. In the past, both Democrats and Republicans were working to make America stronger and better, they just disagreed on what that meant and how to go about it. We need to return to those days. If the Democrats come up with a good idea, the Republicans should support it. By becoming the party of automatic “NO!” they become a party bereft of ideas, doomed to irrelevance. By becoming agreeable co-crafters of policy, compromising where necessary and engaging in vigorous debate where required, they become an active participant in government and can show the American people that they are not just a knee-jerk reactionary organization bent on regaining power at any cost regardless of what’s best for the country.
2) Make a plan. If the Republicans were to somehow regain power tomorrow, what would they do with it? Where would they take the country? I don’t know. That is a problem. The Republicans are hoping that by preventing Healthcare reform, they will have a repeat of Bill Clinton’s first term and be able to take back the house and the senate in 2010, but they forget that the Republicans during Clinton’s first term had actual ideas. They made a contract with America, most of which failed to pass but they at least had a vision of what America would be like should they retake control of the Government. While I’m sure some Republicans have a good idea of where they want to take the country, they will have to overcome the fact that Republicans had control of all three branches of government for 6 years under Bush, and it did not turn out well. It’s time to articulate a new plan with some objective facts to support it.
3) Admit when there’s a problem. If you ignore objective reality and pretend that everything is fine, it eventually shows through as being out of touch at best and fiddling while Rome burns at worst. Health-care in this country is becoming increasingly expensive, and is completely unavailble for many, many people. The goal should be fixing it, with arguments and debates over what is the best way to go about it. However, many Republicans believe that America has the best healthcare in the world and wonder why we should change it. And to be fair, the current system probably works perfectly fine for them. But it doesn’t work for everyone and if Republicans continue to ignore that fact and insist that everything is fine, there will be a further backlash against them. Likewise, the financial system catostrophically failed last year. Pretending that everything is fine and we don’t need regulation is going to cause further problems on down the line and further alienate the millions of voters affected by the collapse.
4) Be the Better Party. After seeing several Republican protestors displaying the President as Hitler, the argument always seems to be that “Well, the Democrats did it when Bush was in office.” As delightfully vindictive as that sentiment is, it doesn’t really get Republicans anywhere. It’s also about as mature as a 10 year old caught punching a fellow student saying, “He started it.” Be the constructive party. Let the angry protestors know that they’re not helping, distance yourselves from the crazies. Let your constituents know that the Republican Party is better than that.
5) Stick to your morals 100% or don’t have them. As the party of family values, it’s important to stick to your morals. If there’s one thing Americans can not stand, it’s hypocrisy. And watching the same people who came down so hard on Bill Clinton during the Lewinsky scandal admit to affairs and affairs with prostitutes, the people who were so against homosexuals turn out to be the ones soliciting gay sex in airports or having illicit relationships with congressional pages makes it hard not to scream “Hypocrites!” If you want to be the party of values, you need to lead the call for the resignation of people who don’t live up to their own morals regardless of party. It’s better to lose a Senator or a Governor in the short-term than be forever tarnished as a party of hypocrites. Or you could abandon the artificial moral high-ground and become the party of human beings with problems like everyone else. Your choice.
6) Be the party of accountability. The Republican party is the party of personal liberty (Other than, you know, libertarians.) They believe that Government too often infringes on the rights of the people, and they call for smaller government and deregulation. As such, they should be on the forefront of calling for the arrest of people who abuse the system and of calling for stiff penalties for corporations who prove they cannot handle the freedom of deregulation. They should be more offended than anyone at abuses such as AIG, Enron, and the like. Being for freedom is all well and good, but laws exist because some people cannot handle freedom and choose to exploit the freedoms they’re given. It is that dichotomy that the Republicans must face.
7) Be the party of the people. Being pro-corporation is not neccessarily a bad thing, but corporations cannot vote and people can. People who have been screwed over by corporations tend to vote against people who act on the corporations behalf. So why are the Republicans so pro-business? Ostensibly, it’s due to the absolute truth that big companies create lots of jobs. Plentiful jobs means more people able to make it on their own without depending on a government handout. So really, Republicanism only really works when there is a strong middle class. Rich people are few. Poor people, if they vote, tend to vote for democrats. The middle class is the greatest potential for growing Republican voters. It makes sense then that the Republicans would be pro-business only in so far as it leads to job creation. If a company is laying off workers, the Republicans should be up in arms against that. If a company is closing up shop, the Republicans should be concerned. If, on the other hand, the Republicans are only concerned with allowing comapnies to increase their bottom line, the number of jobs in this country will continue to decrease (Nothing helps the bottom line than cutting costs via eliminating jobs) and the number of poor, unemployed, angry democrat voters will be created.
This is by no means an exhaustive list. There are many other things that need to be done as well, but these are a good start. Hopefully the Republicans will be able to impliment some well needed changes to thier platform and rise from irrelevance. Because we need a viable opposition to the Democrats. Allowing Democrats to push through their agenda unimpeeded will give us equal and opposite problems to what we got when the Republicans had control of our Government. And if, after the enevitable failure of those plans, the Republicans regain control without learning anything from this forray into the wilderness, heaven help us.