Friday, November 9, 2012

An Open Letter to the Republican Party

There are a lot of things we agree on. We agree this country is in trouble, and we both have doubts that President Obama is the person to fix it. However, Tuesday's election illustrates that the baggage that Obama had weighing him down, the slow economic recovery, the uninspiring campaign, the lingering doubts over his continuation of Bush era foreign policy, was less of a hindrance than Romney's baggage. And what, you might ask, was Romney's baggage. You were, Republican Party, you were.

I think it is best for the nation that both parties produce the best candidate possible, which is why I did not join many of my fellow Michigan liberals in voting for Rick Santorum in the primaries. To that end, here are some thoughts. First, and on a rather broad level, I really think you need to stop sliding further and further into a hard line stance and interrupt the ideological feedback loop you seem to be in. On some level I kind of want you to keep sliding until you slide over a cliff, but that is just petty. However, as you get further and further out there, it forces your candidates to look like loonies to much of the country in order to win your primaries. Just putting someone on the same stage as Rick Santorum and Michele Bachmann damages their credibility. When Republicans go crazy, moderates go Democrat.

On a more specific note, become the party of fiscal responsibility! Right now you have a large credibility issue as you appear to be the party of low taxes for the rich. Showing a willingness to compromise, a temporary increase to top tax brackets in exchange for permanent alterations to an entitlement program for example, would go a long way to making claims of fiscal responsibility believable.

Perhaps a related issue is your image of being a party of hawks. Perhaps you are still recovering from the damage President Bush did to your image in his terms, but you need to get on top of that. Keep our military at home, then we can cut the military budget, and that, in turn, feeds back into your image of actually being fiscally responsible. My suggestion would be to drastically decrease the size of the standing military, and leave research budgets alone, or even increase them. Our safety lies in having the most advanced military, not the largest standing military, and if one looks at the beginning of American involvement in both World Wars we shifted fairly radically from a peacetime footing to a war production footing when we need to. The American people will rise to a challenge when we need to, don't keep us in needless wars, costing us billions of dollars and even the lives of our young adults, just so we will be ready when needed.

Regarding social issues, I think you have three problems, abortion, same-sex marriage, and birth control. Unfortunately, a significant proportion of your base feels that their rights are being taken away if others have the right to make their own decisions regarding these things. This is unfortunate from my point of view because I favor giving people the freedom to make their own decisions, and unfortunate from your point of view because a growing proportion of the voting population seems to agree with me. While I would love it if you decided to share my point of view, I agree that this might alienate some of your supporters too much. You might try painting yourself as the party of liberty, protecting a citizen's right to choose their position on these issues, contrasting with a perception that to be a Democrat one must be pro-abortion, rather than simply pro-choice. This is risky, as it is inaccurate, but when has that stopped you?

It might be safer to pick an issue and improve... I mean change... your stance on that one while maintaining your... repressive... position on the other ones to keep your base. I hope my tone of voice conveys my personal disgust for that option, but it might make political sense. Same-sex marriage could be a reasonable stance to change, because it has been implemented in a few states without the catastrophic societal collapse so feared in some circles. Furthermore, one could even spin the campaign as a defense of marriage if you were to try to make all couples get a civil union to be a joint couple in the eyes of the state, thus protecting marriage to be a religious ceremony. The problem with choosing same sex marriage is that homosexuals are a much smaller proportion of the population than women, so oppressing them is comparitively easy. This is not to say that all homosexuals view same sex marriage as a topic of supreme importance, that no straight people view it as a topic of supreme importance, that all women believe reproductive health is the most important issue, or than no men do, just a comment about the relative size of the groups these reforms most affect.

Campaigning for contraceptive access seems like the safest choice. While many in our nation are opposed to access to contraceptive, ostensibly because it lends itself to immoral behavior, inconsistently enough, the same people do not shun phones because they facilitate gossip or the Internet because it begets... piracy... yes, piracy. Well, you are Amish, then your stance is perfectly consistent, also congratulations on reading an article posted on the Internet somehow! Unless you did it by doing something you are not supposed to, in which case, bad Amish, BAD! Just kidding, much respect to the Amish, I do not want to share their lifestyle, but I think it is a beautiful and logical choice. Where was I? Oh yes, supporting contraceptives also enhances your pro-life stance, as contraceptives, unlike making abortions illegal, actually do something to reduce abortions. The biggest problem with this stance is there is not much for you to do with it. Since contraceptives are legal and widely accepted, there isn't much publicity in simply holding that position, and trying to make them more accessible for women is going to seem at odds with your stance on keeping government small.

Regarding immigration, speculation is that you are actually going to try and work with the Democrats to improve this. In which case, kudos to you!

Regarding the environment, it is probably safe to keep ignoring it, that seems to be working for the Democrats. If you could though, coming up with a small government way to reduce human impacts on our environment would give you significant leverage to implement those small government ideas.

Well, that's about it. Good luck Republicans, the phrase evolve or die comes to mind!


Anonymous said...

This is a good post.

Anonymous said...

Is it time for the Tea Party to break off and start a third party so the rest of the Republicans could move back towards the Center?
I enjoyed your political thoughts Kenny!I was a "liberal Republican" until the day we invaded Iraq. I changed parties, turned left, and have never looked back. Ideas like yours would begin to nudge me back to the middle.