There is no question that the Republican Party is in big trouble. Trounced in the 2008 elections, the Republican Party has neither the platform nor the leaders that appeal to a majority of the electorate. As the GOP has tried to please Christian conservatives, while at the same time engaging in wreckless spending and growing big government, shrinking numbers of voters are now coming on board. It is increasingly difficult for many Americans, who once voted year after year for the GOP, to refer to themselves as Republicans. Not that the electorate is happy with Democrats. After only a few months in office, great numbers of people from all political persuasions are regretting they voted for the Obama/Democratic power grab and rapid descent into something resembling French Socialism.
How can the GOP re-design itself to be relevant again? Is the GOP ever going to be able to re-emerge as a legitimate political contender? I’ve got advice for the Republican Party. As always, they won’t take it, but I’ll offer it anyway.
The largest reason that Republicans are irrelevant is that they have consistently passed laws to enforce their brand of moral behavior on the rest of us. While the Democrats want to destroy our economic freedoms by taking our money and re-negotiating our contracts, Republicans want to destroy our personal liberties in the name of religion or “conservatism”. If Republicans had their way, there would be no abortion, no gay marriage, no embryonic stem cell research, and no birth control pills, just to name a few things. These are moral issues, which in the opinion of most people, should be decided by personal conscience, not by legislators. As long as the Republican Party goes down the path of denying individual freedom via federal legislation, they will be irrelevant.
What should the Republican Party do? In my opinion, Republicans holding federal office (House of Representatives or U.S. Senate) should strictly concentrate on economic and foreign policy issues. Republicans should diligently support restrictions in federal government spending, de-regulation of industries to increase efficiency, free trade, and the rule of law with absolute respect for contract rights.
Republicans should deal with “moral issues” only at the state level. States that wish to pass laws restricting abortion may do so. States that wish to allow stem cell research, use of medical marijuana, or gay marriage may do so. This way, if you want an abortion and live in a state that does not permit it, you may travel to another state which allows the procedure. The same would be true for gay couples wishing to marry, or medical professionals wishing to do stem cell research.
For example, if you’re a successful Republican governor who has not supported abortion in the past and you are elected to the US Senate, your credo would be: “I have no comment on abortion, nor do I intend on dealing with abortion on the federal level. Abortion rights are the prerogative of the state legislatures. My goal in the Senate will be to embrace free trade, term limits, etc.”
I doubt the Republicans will take my advice. They will continue to try to fight the abortion and stem cell fights, in spite of the fact that there will never be a consensus on these issues. I predict that the Republicans will continue to go down the same path, thinking that the likes of Sarah Palin and Newt Gringrich can save them, only to be trounced once again in the next election.
The day may yet come when the Republicans rule Washington again. Without de-coupling civil liberties (morality) issues from economic issues at the federal level, the return to prominence of the Republican Party could materialize when the vast majority of citizens who have taken the “hope and change” bait realize that they are much worse off than before. Perhaps they will be forced to turn to the hapless Republicans for their salvation. That day may be sooner than later.