Obama won. Will be interesting to see how he gets out of the mess.
Last night, I started my night with a cadre of Jewish conservatives. It’s a a minority for sure, and they all are Chicagoans. So super minority. We talked about the state of the Republican Party.
Clearly, the old Republican coalition is failing. What issues are important to it?
1. Strong defense
3. Low taxes
4. Gay Marriage
Low taxes aren’t fiscal conservatism. Technocrat Republicans never actually cut budgets. They just expand them less quickly. That’s not fiscal conservatism. If Republicans really want to make a difference, they will follow people like Rand Paul and Marco Rubio and eliminate pieces of the government. However, it’s going to be very difficult to do now that much of Obamacare and Dodd-Frank become entrenched. One of the largest mistakes Bush made in 2000 was not shrinking the size of government. The House of Representatives expanded pet Republican projects and expanded government. That’s not why they were elected and it has cost Republicans to this day.
The rest of the perceived strengths are social issues. Sorry, the Republicans lose on social issues. They need to find a way to compromise on them. If they did, they would pull many Democrats out of their party and into theirs. The question, can they pull enough to make up for the evangelicals that they lose? The other point is, who else are evangelicals going to vote for? They aren’t going Democratic, and staying home isn’t really an option as things move away from them.
Let’s take the important issues one by one, and add a few more.
Strong defense-the only compromise here is to try and make the defense complex more like a business. Analyze their inventory, and see if there are smart ways to cut it without compromising the country’s ability to defend itself. A strong defense is needed for liberty. But, at the same time many Americans don’t see the wisdom in fighting infidels in the Middle East.
Abortion-I get the pro-life and pro-choice position. Abortion is very emotional. Republicans need to frame it in terms of fiscal conservatism and draw that line in the sand. There needs to be a compromise. The abortion genie is 40 years old and out of the bottle. They won’t put it back in. No doubt, it was decided incorrectly but that is a sunk cost. They shouldn’t try to end it, or make it illegal. But they should end government spending on it. Also, draw a line in the stand on late term abortions. Most are against them. Many in the Democratic party might agree-enough to peel them away from the big unions.
Low taxes-very tough argument to make even though they are right about this one. The best strategy is to pull loopholes away and continue to push for lower rates. Low/no capital gains and corporate taxes create economic opportunity. This one is an uphill climb, and long educational process-especially given the fact most teaching professionals know very little about economics. There is a lot of noise out there on it. Will always be a losing postion with high unemployment-but it’s one they need to stick to.
Gay marriage-who cares? It affects less than 4% of the population. While it may or may not be against your religion depending on how you read the Bible-it’s one that government ought to stay out of. Evangelicals and traditionalists will find this tough to swallow-but gays have been with us since the dawn of time. They aren’t going away. This isn’t a civil rights issue as the hard left would spin it. It’s just a “respect for fellow human issue”. Draw the line in the sand on polygamy. Republicans should stick to the theme of small government and say this issue is better left up to individual states to decide, but create a climate so individual states have to recognize other states marriage rules.
Immigration-Republicans need to embrace the virtues of immigration. Too many of them focus on illegals. The whole “fence the border” thing doesn’t play well, and frankly it’s not American. They need to focus on how immigration actually helps the country get more productive. Instead of fighting it like they have, they need to open it up big time. Figure out a way to make the whole process for high quality immigrants to come to the US and stay here. We have the best universities in the US. There is international demand for them. Once the folks are here, let’s keep them here. Our green card program stinks. Asians, Indians and Hispanics could be Republican voting blocs. Many of their core values mesh with Republican values.
What would I add?
On ticky tacky stuff, Romney blew some opportunities. He didn’t attack Obama on Benghazi. He didn’t attack Obama on Obamacare. Republican Senate candidates in Missouri and Indiana were stupid. As stupid as Nevada and Vermont in 2010. Stupidity cost them the Senate. This wasn’t Hurricane Sandy’s fault, nor Chris Christie’s. Campaigns are about broad themes and Romney didn’t generate enough interest in them. The American media is hard left, and will never be with any Republican agenda. The fourth estate in America is dead. I can understand Romney not attacking on Dodd-Frank, since most don’t understand it. But both DF and Obamacare are horribly debilitating to the American economy.
Republicans urgently need to figure out a way to easily educate Americans on fiscal issues. This should have been an economic election-most people don’t understand economics. If we continue down the path we are currently on, we will lose freedom. Ben Franklin once said, “A republic if you can keep it.”. We are on the verge of losing it. If we learned anything in the first term, Keynesian economics doesn’t work. There is a regulatory and pension tsunami coming our way. Americans are going to be left shaking their heads on this one.
I would hit education and the war on drugs hard.
On education, I’d push vouchers. If Republicans want to make inroads into poor communities, they need to educate them. College educated people do better. Democrats plans for education fail the poor in the US. Republicans can win here big time since they aren’t beholden to unions.
If I were Republican, I’d abandon the war on drugs. Let people destroy themselves if they want. Ending the war makes the road tougher for gangs. Tax them to a point, and hold the line on government money for rehab. If someone chooses to use, they lose. This one was a Milton Friedman idea years ago. He was right about an all volunteer army, and he is right about this.
America is divided. The popular vote was pretty close. There are those on the government dole, probably more than the “47%” when you stop and think about it. Those “dole” voters will always vote for bigger government. Republicans need to find a way to go around them. They will never get African Americans into their party again. Forget about being the party of Lincoln. Republicans need to appeal to other ethnic voting blocs. Asians, Indians and Hispanics.
While the old Republican coalition is certainly dead as a national party, there are some fractures they could exploit in the Democratic party. Classical liberals don’t have a real ideological home in the Democratic party today. With the right policy changes, mostly on social issues, they would leave. You cannot discard the most populous states in the union and win national elections. Although, it will be interesting to see if economic issues push people to flee those states. They are Democratic run, and in trouble because of government pensions.
Republicans should also look at Illinois Congressional results and learn a lesson. Gerrymandering works. When they run a state, they need to gerrymander it to the best of their ability to crush dissent. If they don’t eventually we will have one party rule. In Illinois, Republicans lost house seats due to gerrymandering. A convicted felon won his state house race, and Jesse Jackson Jr. won despite the controversy swirling around him. Democrats look the other way when it comes to ethics.
The other fact that we know now, Nate Silver‘s math was right. Dick Morris and the Republican pundits were way off. And not just by a small amount. Why is anyone listening to them? Time to toss out the old guard Republicans and put them on the street.