16 May 2008

Republicans Need a Platform, Not a Slogan

There’s been quite a bit of media discussion in the last week or so about the Republican message, or lack thereof. The results of recent special Congressional elections, all of which Democrats have won, lends support to the idea that Republicans have lost their way. Indeed, House Republicans have even tried to buy into the whole “change” mantra with their “The Change You Deserve” slogan. It all makes one wonder where the Republicans are going to go next.

What follows is nothing new or original.

Republicans need desperately to get back to a fundamentally conservative platform. It doesn’t have to be wholly developed – leaving room for dissent is key to building a broad base of support – but it should include the following planks:

1. Simplification of the tax code and reduce taxes on those who create jobs
2. Protection of individual liberty against government and special interest group intrusion
3. Reform Social Security with an option for privatization
4. End earmarks (which for Republicans will be a special challenge)
5. Support energy conservation – not dogmatic climate change policies
6. Work toward less dependence on foreign sources of energy
7. End government control of compulsory education
8. Vigorous prosecution of Islamic terrorism (Islamofascism)
9. Buttress the Constitution against the idea that it “lives and breathes”

Nine is probably enough for the moment, though this is obviously not a full list by any means. And, as it was mentioned on Special Report last night, Republicans can show the electorate that they are serious about the platform by introducing legislation covering some or all of their platform now. Even though Democrats control Congress and none of the Republican legislation will pass, it would send the message that Republicans are serious about “change”, and that change being what conservatives are supposed, I think, to believe in.

While there’s no need for Republicans to embrace uber-conservatism, there is a deep need for a party that stands for something other than its own position in power. At the moment, compassionate conservatism has proved to smell a lot like semi-liberalism. With a stated conservative platform and a demonstrated desire to act on it – especially on tough, “third rail” issues – Republicans could regain confidence in itself and from the electorate. If it doesn’t, then I fear for November.

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