I think a reform consensus is already emerging within the Republican Party. There is no further excuse for gratuitously alienating blacks, hispanics, single women, gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender people, young people, Jews, Mormons, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Rastafarians, Zoroastrians, atheists, greenies, tree-huggers, vegans, people with piercings &/or tattoos, and people who like gangsta rap. (I do have some standards: I am willing to discriminate against people who try to navigate four-way stops while texting.) The Republican Party does not, should not, represent a religion, a culture, a lifestyle, a social policy.
The two central ideas of Republican government are, free markets and limited government. But limited government does not mean NO government, it means a government that provides a rule of law, national security, domestic order and safety, environmental protection, protection against unsafe or anti-competitive behavior by businesses, and assistance for those in need of assistance. Moreover, it means a government that defines “assistance” broadly, meaning it stops short of the kinds of “investments” that effectively determine Winners and Losers in the private sector, but provides a wide range of the kinds of services (e.g., disaster-relief services) that most citizens have come to depend upon or expect.
Republicans did not lose this election because Obama is great or Romney is terrible, or because Obama ran a much better campaign than Romney. (Obama made a dozen mistakes for every one by Romney – remember “You didn’t build that,” Benghazi, the general disapproval for ObamaCare?). The reasons Romney lost are few, and simple: (a) No one understands conservative economics – not even the Republicans; (b) the Democratic/leftist bias of virtually the entirety of the American news, entertainment, and education industries is overwhelming, which creates an effective blackout of everything relating to a Republican candidacy (other than negative news and negative interpretations of everything else); and (c) the Republicans commit ritual hara kiri by their insistence upon inflicting their social policies and values upon the voters – the gratuitous alienation described above. It is now clear that Republicans will never win another national election until they eliminate at least one, maybe even two, of those three reasons.
- Conservative economics. Romney did a workmanlike job of explaining conservative economics, but he is no Milton Friedman, no Ronald Reagan. Explaining the difference between raising taxes and raising tax rates is way too much for most politicians. Explaining why the economy grows faster when we motivate the rich, rather than punishing them, is likewise way too much for most politicians. Not even the Republicans can explain their own program for reforming Social Security and Medicare. The only way the public is ever going to master free-market capitalism is by on-the-job training: having to watch an economic catastrophe unfold before their eyes, during an anti-markets Administration, in real time. Four more years of Obama-induced stagnation, or a second recession or an actual depression, might pound the message home, but otherwise, forget about winning this argument – the public will never vote for conservative fiscal or monetary reform. At best, the public might vote for a conservative because they LIKED the candidate, and maybe we’d get lucky and that person would introduce conservative reform even though that was not the reason for his or her election.
- Bias against Republicans. The leftist/Democratic bias of the media/entertainment/academic axis has been building for 50 years and is not about to be dismantled, so we must count that as a given. Reagan showed that it could be weakened, but he was a master.
- Social policy. That leaves only one area where quick reform is feasible: getting cultural and social values and social policies totally off the table for Republicans. That is the topic I wish to address.
I never want to hear another Republic politician or political operative recommend someone as a “Christian conservative” – as though that were somehow better than a Jewish, Mormon, or atheist conservative. America IS a melting pot, and I want my party to pay no attention whatsoever to a person’s religion – or skin color, sexual orientation, country of origin, lifestyle, or taste in music.
I never want to hear another discussion of abortion policy, birth control policy, or gay marriage as part of a national political campaign – as though those topics were matters in which our federal government should be involved. For that matter, I don’t want to hear about the pledge of allegiance, religious symbols in public places, prayer in schools, Darwin v. creationism, Marx v. Hayek, gun control, competitive patriotism, and other such matters. Let’s talk about improving national security, fixing Social Security and Medicare, and cutting the national debt and our annual deficits, and stop looking for arguments about the other stuff. I am keenly interested in how we fix our public school system, but that, like these other topics, can lose an election but cannot win one.
I do not propose that we pander, Obama-style, on immigration in order to restore decent relations with the Latino population, but we do have to make it clear that we are trying to make things easier for them, not harder. Border security is fine, and making it easier for highly-skilled professionals from all over the world to work here and achieve U.S. citizenship is fine, but neither is as high a priority as removing the fear of harassment or deportation of Latino immigrants who now live and work here illegally (and removing the impression that Republicans are bigoted against everyone but white Anglo-Saxon Protestants).
The Republican Party needs to be dragged into the 21st century. The Rush Limbaughs and Rick Santorums have had their way; they were indulged, based upon the premise that an old-fashioned, socially-conservative platform and candidate would yield a massive Republican turnout of the silent, allegedly-conservative majority out there, and it did not happen. Time to tackle the problem and win an election.
Of course, the Republicans could also show what quick learners they are, by identifying an attractive young Congressperson who was a hardcore ideological conservative but largely unknown, running him or her for President as a bi-partisan, middle-of-the-road moderate who was OK with balancing the federal budget but had once burned the entire collected works of Milton Friedman and favored abortion, free birth-control, gay marriage, and amnesty for illegals. Once elected, our own Manchurian Candidate could then do a full-Obama by implementing an all-Hayek agenda. After four years, the economic turnaround would be so stunning that people would not care that they had been defrauded in the first election.