Monday, September 22, 2008

Best Of - How Conservatism Can Always Win

Originally posted on May 23, 2008

Since 2006, it’s been almost a curse to be called a conservative. The President is a “conservative,” and the country has quickly turned their back to him. The GOP is at its lowest “party affiliation” ranking in polls since the time of Watergate. The title conservative has become synonymous with Bush and the GOP in the US…and those aren’t things they really want to be associated with. But, conservatism can always win in the end…if it’s advertised correctly and shown in a way that makes sense to the everyman. This is how a platform can be rebuilt and save the conservative movement.

Taxes and spending are winning conservative issues, recent polling has shown that Americans think tax hikes hurt the economy and would rather have less offered by the government coupled with lower taxes. Conservative candidates traditionally run on platforms of lower taxes, but they’ve not always run on platforms of lower spending. Candidates should provide detailed roadmaps to cutting earmarks, perhaps a permanent moratorium on them. Candidates should discuss details of wasteful spending – bring up waste that everyone can relate to…in detail, including the Bridge to Nowhere from Alaska and other wastes. Bring up information on pork, Club for Growth style. Don’t bring up tax cuts unless you bring up the following items first and foremost – cutting wasteful spending, lowering the deficit (of whatever level of government you’re involved in), balancing the budget as best as possible, and opposing unnecessary tax hikes. Those four points are worth discussing at length along with any detailed plans a conservative would have for these issues. Americans are, on the whole, fiscally more conservative. They don’t like to see waste…bring that up.

Term limits. Why did Republicans in Congress give this up after the Contract for America? Because after a goodly number of them went to Washington, they got greedy. They loved their fat paychecks and began to stuff their constituencies with pork in order to keep getting reelected. If we propose term limits in New York State’s legislature, Congress, etc – it might work out that we cease to have career politicians. Five terms for the House, two terms for the Senate, 5 terms for State Senate/Assembly, 2 Terms for Governor. Seems pretty straightforward. If enacted, again, it could help remove the view that all our politicians are in it to create a career. If the GOP champions this issue like they did in the past, it could become a winning issue rather quickly. Couple it with pay cuts for politicians instead of pay raises, and I think the American public would thank you for it. Yes…I’m suggesting that our politicians take voluntary pay cuts in order to help lessen the national debt. See my previous section as to how readily trying to lessen the national debt will be a winning issue.

Crime is a winning issue. I don’t mean being criminals; that mean you Larry Craig and Joe Bruno…I mean crime related legislation. Stiffening prison sentences, making it more difficult for violent offenders to get bail, even support of the death penalty can be a winning issue. See George Pataki in New York, of all places, in 1994. Reinstating the death penalty was a major plank for him…and he beat the three term incumbent as a no-name one-term State Senator from downstate whose claim to fame before that was being Mayor and an Assemblyman for a total of a decade. In Statewide, City-wide, and even national elections – being the tough on crime candidate can be a major boon. For another New York example, look at Giuliani. This is especially useful for such positions as Attorney General and DA…and becomes even nobler if you show that you only have regard for the law, and not party. Albany County District Attorney David Soares going after Spitzer and Hevesi has endeared him to many moderates and even conservatives, the same holds true for New York’s Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. Not caring about party lines when enforcing the law is a BIG boost. Republicans could learn a thing or two from these two Democrats.

Social issues are rarely winning issues and not worth discussing in most parts of the country. So, what is? The Courts. Don’t point to specific forms of legislation, just point out the fact that you want to see judges at all levels of governance to strictly adhere to our Constitution. That’s enough to make the most militant of conservatives drool…I know I do when I hear Fred Thompson spout on about federalism and strict constructionist interpretations of the Constitution. What does this do? It makes Roe v. Wade into an issue, indirectly. You’re saying you wouldn’t mind Roe overturned, without actually saying it because from the strictest constructionist perspective, it was poorly decided. Just because you think a law is bad, doesn’t make it unconstitutional. Conservatives sticking to a viewpoint of strict construction of our Constitution is a brilliant way to win back supporters.

The final thing to do is weed out all those from within the party that conflict with these viewpoints. Get rid of those connected to President Bush in a public sense, ex. Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, Condi Rice, etc. Get rid of those who are clearly corrupt and continue to make the GOP look bad with their awful ways, ex. Joe Bruno, David Vitter, Larry Craig, John Sweeney, etc. Don’t allow yourself to be connected to ridiculous religious leaders who are anti-Semitic, anti-Mormon, etc. There are too many of them on the right and the moment we get the perception that we are a party that is beholden to their interests. We can be a party of religious people, we can’t be the party of religious nuts. With that in mind, we need to purge those like Pat Buchanan, who thinks that it’s Poland’s fault that the Nazi’s took them over, from the party permanently. Next – we need younger candidates. We don’t need to force them to run for President, (i.e. Obama), but we need to have new fresh faces becoming the face of the GOP. Michael Steele should be the next chairman of the GOP. We need Republicans like Bobby Jindal, Randy Daniels, Josh Romney, Mark Harris, and Sarah Palin who have bipartisan appeal, who understand some of the things I’m bringing up. We need them as the faces of our party, not the face we have today. On a side note, if you don’t know these names, you will in the very near future…I guarantee that one.

We need a new Republican Party that is transformed into a reformist, tax cutting, pork busting, crime fighting, strict constructionist party that brings a new spin on conservatism. A new direction, this direction, is a winning direction for conservatives and I hope this serves as a call to arms. A new Contract with America needs to be built on a foundation of the most logical and powerful of conservative points that can readily be championed by the entire Republican Party. I feel these are those issues. I look forward to debate and discussion on this, but these are the ways that conservatives have and always can always win in the end, it’s only a matter of if they’re willing to realize it.

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