Reeling from the losses in the general election, facing a popular President and opposition dominance in both Houses of Congress, the Grand Old Party is struggling to find an identity that will resonate with the American voter. The party wobbles between trying to tack to the much vaunted centrist appeal and being identified with what is viewed as the “extreme” right wing or conservative elements among Republicans. The decline of the party is a reflection of an ideological shift in society which, unfortunately for all Americans, has left voters with precious little to distinguish fundamentally between Democrats and Republicans. The solution lies in principles, offering clear choices and stepping back from politics as usual.
American politics has deteriorated to the point where voters choose leaders they either think will do the best job of “running” the economy or the selection is based on an unconstrained want based on special interests. In short, the voter wants the government to be the solution to any and all problems that may be experienced by him.
Of course, this is not true for all voters. The Republicans should remind themselves that 47 percent of the voters were against Obama. They should remember the “tea parties” which showed peaceful protest over the growth of Leviathan. And they should be reminded almost daily of the media attacks on Republican efforts to reinvent themselves. If the GOP has been truly marginalized, why are these efforts to reinforce the idea considered so necessary by CNN, MSNBC, Newsweek and others? It may be news to a point, but stories of the decline of the Republicans have been circulating since well before the election. They date back at least to the GOP stumbling over its choice of John McCain as its presidential nominee and of course enjoyed a resurgence in the vile reaction to his unconventional choice of Sarah Palin as running mate.
The Republicans simply have to offer a clear cut choice for voters. As it stands now, both major parties are for the primacy of government. The Democrats have the longest tradition of this position but the Republicans have been just as guilty in practice. To reinvent the GOP is to become identified as the party of principle. The principle of the primacy of the individual in politics. There is no other way to represent every voter. If you represent groups, classes or special interests you begin to exclude not only other groups but the individuals in them.
In rebuilding its political platform, the Republicans need to reaffirm such constitutional concepts as the freedom to pursue religious preference. That implies necessarily the separation of church and state. Leaving the choice of religion to the individual is of paramount importance. Equally important is the separation of politics and economics. Leaving the choice of what individuals do for work and with whom they trade is critical. The US has drifted a long way from such principles in its politics. The results are self-evident to those who will see. Growing government intervention, wildly unstable monetary system, economy-crippling deficit spending by government and the specter of hyperinflation or confiscatory taxation in the near future are just some of the notable results and logical expectations.
Republicans, if you can come up with a plan to systematically dismantle the privileges of economic exploitation by the state for the benefit of the elite classes you will be on the road to becoming a winner. By these privileges I mean such targeted benefits as bailouts, subsidies, low-interest and government guaranteed loans, protective tariffs and government supplied services such as deposit insurance. Add that to your conventional tax cut proposals and economic growth will astound once again. Take the shackles off the people. Let them choose the winners.
Copyright 2009 Edward Podritske