Welcome to 2009, the year the Republican Party goes from the forge onto the anvil for reshaping. The postmortem on the 2006 and 2008 elections are now final, even if some in the Republican party don't like the findings, they are clear. They do not paint a pretty picture for the party as we go into the New Year and looking forward to 2010.
Besides the hard working folks who make up the core of our local Republicans, I was hard pressed to find anyone who would boldly proclaim their association with the GOP in the 2008 election year. When I pressed them, I heard one answer more than any other; they were mad. They were mad at Republicans in Congress and President Bush for the reckless spending that had taken place under the six years of Republican control in Washington.
I understood their anger and felt it every bit as much as they did. The grassroots gave the President and the congressional Republicans a pass in 2004 because of the war in Iraq. Plain and simple. We were going to stand by our commander in chief and we would look the other way as Congress grew the federal government at a rate not seen since Lyndon Johnson's 'Great Society'. When the time came to once again hold our noses and vote for the big spending Republicans, we may have voted for them, but we sure didn't walk any precincts or send many checks to the GOP. The result was disastrous, but predictable.
This year the GOP is in the forge, the fire burning away the impurities, ready for the hammer blows on the anvil that will reshape the party. While there must be refinement to make a stronger party, there is a danger in this process. Too much fire and the steel becomes very hard, but also very brittle. To little heat and metal's structure is unchanged, just reshaped.
There are two strong camps vying for control of the party. The social conservatives who feel this party has taken them for granted, using them as a beast of burden and giving them just enough rhetoric to keep them motivated. The other camp is those who want rid the party of any evangelical influence and focus on policy and economics. We need both factions to work together if we are to move forward.
The answer lays in going back to our party’s founding principles, along with a new era of leadership inside the Republican Party. People know real leadership when they see it, and we need to give them a GOP they can believe in.
Here is the application for membership in new GOP, the principles are few and easy to understand.
• The answer to every problem is not another government-spending program.
Throwing money at every problem simply doesn't work, it just grows government. We need to look at everything we do as a government and ask, how can we do this better, faster and more efficiently.
• Lower taxes means economic opportunity for everyone.
Let us keep more of our money instead of feeling grateful when they give some of it back.
• The world is a dangerous place and there are people who want to kill everyone us down to the last man, woman and child. These terrorists and rouge states are not going away, and we have to contain the ones who can be contained and defeat the ones who cannot be.
• America was founded on religious freedom, not freedom from religion. If you want to strike any mention of God from every public place, you can agree to disagree with us and move on, or find the door.
• Corruption will be dealt with swiftly, especially within our party.
If you are in leadership and you knew of wrongdoing and tried to cover it up, you are gone too. No family members as staff or lobbyist, sorry it’s called public service, not a late-night, get rich quick program.
• Earmarks are history, I know it’s a drop in the bucket spending wise, but to allow them to continue is political tone-deafness on an industrial scale. We need to win the small battles too.
• Enforce the borders. Build the wall, make a tamper-proof federal ID, and make sure the employers who hire illegal workers are hit hard in the pocketbook. Then come talk to me about a pathway to citizenship for those already here. Enforcement first.
• Domestic oil production is the key in giving us time to develop an alternative technology to replace our oil dependence. Sending trillions of dollars, buying OPEC oil, to the countries who teach their children to hate us is crazy. What would a world look like where a viable alternative to petroleum-based fuels was invented and produced in the US?
• School choice. If the government is failing our families by giving them chronically under performing schools, give the parents a choice to send them to a private or semi-private charter school. Competition is a wonderful thing, it forces change and change is good, or so I've been told lately.
Well, those are a few of my suggestions for building a strong, vibrant GOP. It certainly isn't slick or sexy. It doesn't have a catchy theme like 'Hope and Change', it's just common sense, basic conservative ideas.
It's like the most effective diet plan ever devised that no one follows; eat less, exercise more. Everyone wants a pill that we can swallow to loose the weight. As conservatives, we know what to do, we know how to do it, we just need someone to give us a kick in the pants, get us off the couch and to lace up our running shoes. I think we just got that kick in the pants last November.