What dreams have we? What future would we build? If you look around the Republican leadership, you don’t see many answers to those questions, but they are urgently in need of answer.
In this series of essays I have challenges for different factions within the Republican base. The intent of these challenges are to get all conservatives to examine their base values and principles to recraft and redraft their policies into something positive and forward looking for this century rather than defending the rhetoric and favored pets from last century. For five years we have been on defense, and the strategy of running the table of social welfare issues that was practiced prior to the last two elections certainly backfired.
In this century Fiscal conservatives have been mostly quiet, and now the challenges to speaking loudly for fiscal restraint are greater than ever. Over the years Fiscal conservatives drifted from message, and being the “anti-big government” contingent isn’t getting you far.
To change that you need to look in the mirror, and re-examine values and principles. Should you be anti-big government, or should you be for fiscal restraint and effective government? Should you rail against social spending while on the backend you campaign for corporate welfare like ethanol subsidies and bridges to nowhere? Your challenge is perhaps the steepest of all: at a time when the economy is in trouble any cuts anywhere are going to be sharply debated.
How can you create a positive fiscal agenda in the current environment? How can you stop the flow of taxpayer dollars in the form of grants to blatantly political groups like Acorn and the various witch hunt commissions that almost always have a life of greater than ten years? What about Republican political groups that receive taxpayer dollars? Will you grandstand on hot button items, or will you really reduce the budget? Will you stand firm against the “bail me out” lobbies that have descended? What can you do that’s effective strategy against the rollback of the tax cuts that will come?
You can’t be effective without your base behind you, and that’s not going to happen if the hypocrisy coninues. For thirty years we’ve had an energy policy in doldrums, what are you going to do about it? More subsidies for oil and gas, and other energy lobbies, or real, forward looking programs created by eliminating the subsidies to level the playing field and redirecting subsidy monies to solid research?
What kind of payoff would you gain from devoting 100 percent of three to five congressional staffers at hidden government waste?
For your part of the platform you don’t have the luxury your opponents do — you can’t buy banks of votes through legislating more spending – your path to ensure loyalty and votes is to cut spending, decrease waste, and eliminate failed programs. Tough sledding when you are not in control, but you must persist even in this environment.
Will you continue the myth that we are a consumer nation, or will you look at why we aren’t manufacturing as much as we should? What are you prepared to close before you open new things? What’s overdue for sunset before you look for the sunrise?
Whatever you do it must provide a clear path to prosperity and growth in America, not the vision that the Democrats favor of America in decline, and there lies your greatest opportunity.