Thoughts on Kingdom, Church, and Grace from an American living in Hong Kong

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Re-Tooling the GOP

A lot has been written about the future of the Republican Party after their apparent spanking in the 2006 and 2008 elections. The talking head shows have delivered a plethora of segments with numerous "pundits" advising everything from becoming a party of inclusion to "returning to the party of Ronald Reagan." OK, since I'm tired of cringing at what others say, here are some of my suggestions for bringing the GOP into the 21st Century

* Stop Invoking Ronald Reagan: Hey, I loved the Great Communicator as much as any Republican. I cast my first vote for him in 1984 and grew misty eyed when he would describe America as that "City on a Hill". He drew millions of "Reagan Democrats" across party lines much like Obama did with the Republicans in '08 BUT he was first elected President almost 30 years ago and he was old then. We have millions of new voters who predominantly voted Democrat this election and only yawn when Reagan is invoked. It only serves to re enforce the perception that the GOP is a party of the dinosaur.

* Marginalize Rush Limbaugh: In 2006 I was discussing possible Republican presidential contenders with some GOP friends. Suddenly one of them quipped, "We shouldn't discount Rush Limbaugh who would make a great candidate." On the outside I quickly changed the subject but on the inside I was reeling. Rush Limbaugh?? How could an intelligent individual even suggest such a possibility? Unfortunately, there are far to many Republicans who get their news from Rush and it has only served to to make us the party of simplicity and stupidity. The fact that now he is getting touted as the defacto head of the GOP only buries the stake further in when compared to President Obama. David Frum says it best when he writes,
On the one side, the president of the United States: soft-spoken and conciliatory, never angry, always invoking the recession and its victims. This president invokes the language of “responsibility,” and in his own life seems to epitomize that ideal: He is physically honed and disciplined, his worst vice an occasional cigarette. He is at the same time an apparently devoted husband and father. Unsurprisingly, women voters trust and admire him.

And for the leader of the Republicans? A man who is aggressive and bombastic, cutting and sarcastic, who dismisses the concerned citizens in network news focus groups as “losers.” With his private plane and his cigars, his history of drug dependency and his personal bulk, not to mention his tangled marital history, Rush is a walking stereotype of self-indulgence – exactly the image that Barack Obama most wants to affix to our philosophy and our party. And we’re cooperating! Those images of crowds of CPACers cheering Rush’s every rancorous word – we’ll be seeing them rebroadcast for a long time.

It's time for the GOP to put Rush out to pasture somewhere.

* Retire use of the word "Socialism": because all you are scaring are some Cold War veterans. Today's voters, who have seen their 401K disappear, their stock investments crash, and their portfolio not worth the paper its printed on while at the same time watching Wall Street moguls and CEOs scrambling away with bonuses and bailouts, are much more afraid of Capitalism than Socialism. Heck, everytime they start railing about Obama's economic plan being socialism I keep expecting a follow up on the threat on America posed by the Soviet Union. STOP saying socialism with the expectation people are going to care. That doesn't mean you change your belief in a market economy, it means bring your vocabulary into the 21st Century! Which leads me to:

* Get a Universal Health Care policy: The American people want it. Figure it protest here...just do it!

* Bring Intellectual Conservatism back: I miss William F. Buckley! And love him or loathe him, Richard Nixon was arguably the most intelligent president of the 20th century. However the party and conservatism is presently being positioned by the Democrats as a back woods, hyper-religious, bunch of buffoons who are more to be pitied than argued with...and we just fuel the fire. Whether its George Bush's creative vocabulary, Gov. Bobby Jindal's childish response to the State of the Union address, or just the average Republican pundit who seems to see that the real threat comes not from a bad economy or Al-queda but from those "dang homosexuals" the GOP has been an intellectual vacuum that needs filling fast. Which leads me to:

* Higher profiles for smart Republicans : like Gov. Arnold Schwarzenergger and Florida Gov. Charlie Crist. Everytime they speak...well, I don't cringe and want to hide under a table somewhere...and right now for the Republicans, that says alot.

Well, I may get accused by this post of being a dreaded RINO (Republican in Name Only) but unless the GOP makes some serious changes, they will increasingly be a party in name only. I wouldn't like that. The Democrats have serious policy and worldview flaws and so the GOP needs to do what it has been telling everyone else to do for the last 30 years, "Get off your lazy butt and get to work. It's not our responsibility to take care of you. Your position as a national party is not an entitlement, you have to earn the right to be on the national stage. Now get to work and start bringing home some bacon."


Bob said...

Agree with everything you said here except the part about Universal Health Care. I think the Health Savings Account/High Deductible Health Plan is a step in the right direction as it promotes personal responsibility. But of course that is no longer in vogue.

Rush was never more than an entertainer. I am guilty myself of once taking him too seriously, much to my discredit.

I hope the Republican movers and shakers take your advice. The pendulum will swing back -- it always does -- but not as long as we have a rock star president and a GOP with no direction. Maybe you should move back to the U.S. and run for office again? Hillary can tell you the states with no residency requirements . . .

Andrew said...

That was perfectly said. I really want the Republican party to be a viable voice in politics, but they are really going to need to do everything you listed.

You clarified why the Reagan thing didnt work for me. I couldn't figure out why, cause actually I am cool with Reagan for the most part. But that's just it... I am old now. There are way too many people saying 'Who?" :)

Steve H. said...

Bob: I'm not sure exactly what needs to be done with healthcare but there needs to be a safety net and the Republicans need to quit saying that "its socialism". We have a number of corporate "socialist" programs from which we all benefit including education and defense.

One of the first things that has to be done is separating the crazy linkage jobs have to our health insurance. Someone loses their job and then suddenly they don't have health insurance. Crazy!

Conor said...

Thanks for inviting me to read your blog.

How wonderful it would be to have arguments about policy and perspectives instead of positions taken purely to politically damage the opposition.

We could also use more Jon Stewart like news commentary. Funny, interesting and smart.

I think the Republican Party is likely to sink farther before it takes your advice. Governor Crist is about to badly lose in the Senatorial primary for instance.