Thursday, July 22, 2010

Republican complacency. But whose agenda?

Do they need a stronger agenda? Some would argue yes:

Get With the Program
[...] If GOP consultants who are advising the party to avoid embracing a substantive agenda prior to the November elections get their way, this will be the pitiful Republican dance for the next three-and-a-half months.

We understand the Republicans’ temptation to believe that they can beat the Democrats with nothing. The public has recoiled from President Obama’s agenda and seems set to swing to the Republicans as a check against his liberal overreaching. Why not just play it safe and ride the wave that’s already building?

One, this wouldn’t be as safe as it seems. The consultants think Republicans risk putting targets on their backs by associating themselves with particular policy ideas. But Republicans will be targeted regardless. The White House wants to define them as mindless apostles of “No,” and as “Bush Republicans.” Both of these charges could hurt, and they are more likely to stick if Republicans lack a forward-looking agenda of their own.

Two, a campaign agenda is, if nothing else, a sign of seriousness for voters. The danger in the kind of cynical calculation urged by the consultants is always that the public will recognize it for exactly that and react accordingly.

Three, if Republicans plan on having a majority in either house after November, they had better have some idea in advance of how they will conduct themselves in power. If they have an agenda that has won at least loose assent from voters, they’ll be better-off than if they were trying to come up with something on the fly in the flush of victory, when giddiness will rule and special interests will all want a piece of the pie.

Fourth, Republicans should have confidence in their ideas. If they can’t offer an alternative to Obama now — with the president sagging in the polls, with tea partiers in the streets, with conservative sentiment on the upswing across the board in the public — they should be in a different business. This needn’t entail recklessness. The Contract with America of 1994 wasn’t a radical document, but it did point in a clearly different direction than the Clinton Democrats. This is what Republicans need now (watch this space for our ideas) and what House Republicans have been planning on — so long as they don’t flinch. [...]

My fear is though, that the Uber Conservatives are going to push social issues as the spearhead of the party. That would be a mistake.

Spain's economy is collapsing. It's been doing poorly for a while. Conservatives there have not been able to win elections, despite the poor economy. Why? Because their conservative party is dominated by people who wish to push unpopular social issues, that the majority of voters don't agree with. So the economy there continues in it's downward spiral.

Here at home, the Republican's need an agenda, but it must be one that the majority of voters can gather behind. It should be about jobs and the economy, first and foremost.

I don't expect social conservatives to give up their issues, but those issues should not be the spearhead of the party. We need a large tent, with a spearhead that the majority of voters can rally behind.

Swing voters matter. People who are not rigid social conservatives are not RINOS. If social conservatives insist on drumming all who are unlike themselves out of the party, then we will follow the path of Spain. Or worse.

This next election is ours to win or lose. And it may be the last chance to save our Republic.

And for an agenda that many can rally behind, perhaps Paul Ryan's roadmap would be a good place to start:

'Roadmap' a realistic plan to remake the tax system
[...] The Wisconsin Republican's Roadmap is not a "reactionary" document, as the left usually describes most anything that involves substantially reducing the size, scope and cost of government. It doesn't seek to turn back the clock. Rather, it breaks with a strain of libertarian logic that is always at war with the State, while staying true to the idea that the best government is the one that governs least. It advances libertarian ends by admitting the limits of libertarian means.

The key to Ryan's do-over is acknowledging that America will never eradicate the welfare state entirely for the simple reason that Americans don't want to eradicate the welfare state entirely. The Roadmap explicitly declares that the social safety net — in the form of health and retirement benefits — for those "suffering hard times" is something Americans want to keep. On this and other fronts, the document is a monumental concession to political reality. [...]

It may not be perfect, but it doesn't have to be. It only has be good enough for the majority of voters to agree with, and better than the alternative that the current administration is trying to force down our throats. And THAT, it is.


No comments: