Thursday, November 8, 2012

An open letter to conservatives (Part 3): What the GOP must change to be viable

The Republican Party has some major problems. Isolating voters, branding, inconsistency, and hypocrisy come to mind. These 6 changes need to happen for them to become viable, without losing their true principles. What is more, this will bring them more in line with constitutional principles.

6 things (discussed below): a rational foreign policy, a rational immigration policy, a reasonable approach to climate change and the environment, a more accepting and federalist approach to social issues, real fiscal conservatism, and learning to negotiate and compromise.

1.      A rational foreign policy. The Republican Party must adopt a rational foreign policy. For too long the party has supported fighting wars of aggression oversees and spend valuable tax dollars bombing civilians and propping up foreign dictators. The party that was voted got us out of Vietnam and Korea needs to start promoting the kind of foreign policy it used to have and that George Washington suggested: worry about problems here at home, and not in Europe or anywhere else. Looking back on history the sad truth is that despite our often good intentions, the United States’ involvement in oversees conflicts has led to wasted lives and turmoil in those country. Afghanistan (the first time), and central and south America have been evidence of that. Can we say we are pro-liberty while propping up dictators oversees who happen to be our friends? Can we say we are pro-life when we kill thousands of innocent civilians? Our people are needlessly dying, as are those of other foreign countries, it is time for the GOP to take a rational approach to this issue. Yes we need a strong national defense, but we don’t need to be oversees building other people’s bridges, when we have bridges here that need fixing. We already spend over 4 times any other country on military. When will it stop? More money on military makes us safer as more money on education makes us smarter. It doesn’t. Yes there needs to be an investment, but we need to be rational, endless foreign wars of aggression is not the answer. We should focus on working with Democrats to bring the troops home, close oversees bases to save money, and in general downsize the military focusing purely on defense, not offense.

2.      A rational immigration policy. This election made it clear, the republicans need Latinos. What is more, Americans need Latinos. It is time the Republican party take a more open approach to immigration by realizing immigration is a good thing. Once again this is more aligned with conservative principles of Liberty and Life. Why can’t we let people freely move here? If we believe in Liberty we must. I don’t want this to come across wrong, but it is essentially the same principle as free-trade. If they can do a better job for a better price, why not let them do it, that will drop the cost for everyone, and free workers up to be able to do things where they can benefit more people. Obviously we can take a hard line on illegal immigration, but fences are just ridiculous, communist countries build walls and fences, not free countries. Most illegal problems would be solved by making legal immigration (at least a work-visa situation) easy and cheap. Anyone who wants to come should be able to with a nominal fee and background check. Then we can truly live the saying on the statue of liberty: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

3.      Rational approach to the environment and climate change. Accept the Science. Republicans cannot deny it, and should not as it will only make them come across and bigoted and anti-intellectual. That is an image the Republicans desperately need to shake. Republicans should be the party of intellect and education. The message needs to be one of truth, and therefore accept what science is accepting as fact. Climate change and global warming are real, why any politician would or should deny this is beyond me. Now the causes of climate change are not so clear, and how much man has played a part. There are clear signs that lots of it is our fault. And I don’t think anyone would deny that being environmentally conscience is a good thing. We can accept it is real, and recognize it is up to individuals mostly to make changes. Companies and individuals are doing this voluntarily and it will continue, we ought to be encouraging this, as that is what we want, less government, more people. Also stats could be encouraged to work out their own particular environmental policies to encourage a clean future for everyone. In general have a genuine and honest discusion about what, if anything, the federal government could/should do to change anything.

4.      On social issues, focus on federalism. Here is another inconsistency and hypocrisy that sends people packing from the GOP. We want freedom, yet we want to tell people in other states about their personal lives and what they can consume. There is a logical approach to this that does not alienate social conservatives and is more in line with principles of liberty than even the libertarian view (in my opinion) it is called federalism, I wrote an article on it here. This should be our approach. Also on LGBTQ issues, if we adopted a fair tax, or closed loopholes and benefits in the tax code, then gay marriage would not be such a big issue. At that point it literally becomes about the definition of a word. That could easily be left to the states to hash out, other words change meaning from New York to Texas, I don’t see why this word couldn’t either, as long as we eliminate the tax code loopholes and benefits that benefit people living in a married relationship.

5.      Be real fiscal-conservatives. The supposedly “fiscally conservative” party has been anything but in recent years. George W. Bush out spent and out-debted his democratic predecessor by a pretty unhealthy margin, and we wonder why people can’t identify with the party? If we actually pursued this principle half as hard as we doggedly pursue keeping “our guys” in office we would be doing pretty well. This is a branding issue. This should be our brand: true fiscal conservatives. Most Americans identify with the need to keep a budget; it is something Republicans should be able to deliver.

6.      Learn to negotiate. If we have the truth, we should be willing to talk to anyone and not fear. We shouldn’t have to shut people out of debates or speeches, especially one of our own. Let’s recognize that the other side has legitimate reasons to believe why they do and engage them in constructive conversation. Let’s learn to compromise, if it means raising taxes on the super-rich for significant spending cuts, why not? A lot could be negotiated with things we should not even be defending, like military cuts, cuts in foreign aid, closing loopholes for corporations, and more.

These changes will not only widen the appeal of the GOP. They are more aligned with core principles of life, liberty, and love. We do not need to abandon our principles to win, we need to abandon the principles of the few crazies who have captivated the party and mistaken their social agenda for constitutional principles, when they are not. The party needs to rebrand itself not as the anti-intellectual, anti-immigrant, white party, but as the intellectual, rational, fiscally-conservative, open-minded party. If some inside the party get mad, those people will just have to realize what the party is about.

Life, Liberty, and Love: these should be our guiding principles. Following the constitution could go a long way, especially for Republicans.

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