So you think we won the election year huh?
The question is, how much did we lose by winning?
I don’t even recognize my own party anymore. This last election year was disheartening in so many ways. Many on the right rabidly began to devour their own and that fact may have weakened our party to the point of no return. What is our rally cry? Who are we now? The Republican party now faces an epic crisis of identity. By fervently championing Donald Trump, we turned our back on many of the defining principles of conservatism.
For a long time conservatives have held what they considered to be traditional beliefs. They rejected the idea of moral relativism and claimed the moral high ground. All the sudden people who considered Mitt Romney not righteous enough to be President championed a man known for his immorality. The loudest wing of the Republican party proudly nominated Donald J. Trump and burned their “moral high ground” to ashes.
Conservatives who believed in the principles of small government found themselves with a figurehead who made huge promises to “fix” everything-and how? With the powerful sweeping hand of the federal government.
The first thing we must do is realize that we have lost our voice.
As a party, many no longer take us seriously. There have always been those far on the left who have seen us as redneck hillbillies, but we did have a reputation with moderates and some classical liberals as thinkers who, although differing in ideas, were an important aspect to a two-party adversarial system designed for conflict and refinement. We were listened to and our goals were considered. We used to be able to reach across the aisle and compromise in order to get things done. By allowing President Trump to be our mouthpiece, we are no longer able to be heard.
Society is rapidly changing and in order to regain our footing and arise as a more cohesive party there are several changes we need to make.
- Stop Moralizing.
First of all, I write this blog as a deeply religious person. When we constantly bring our version of religion into the public courtyard, we do a disservice to our party and the people who either do not agree with the religiously faithful or do not know where they stand on existential matters. It is very arrogant of us to decide for others what their faith should look like. By redefining the government according to our religious dogma, we become dangerously close to a Theocracy and a political system based on someone’s version of religion, which is exactly what I hear many Republicans rail about in regards to Isis and Muslim extremists. Every time I hear it I think to myself “You don’t really have a problem with religion as a form of government, you just want it to be YOUR religion.”
It is fine for faith to be the framework of your own personal ideology but utilizing it as a political standard in the public square only leads to problems. Some of these issues include: We all share differing beliefs. Setting a specific standard of faith up alienates those who believe in ways that may not mirror your own. When you place a human on a pedestal they will inevitably fall off of. When we vote for a specific person because they are “Bible believing” or “Godly” we are setting them up to not only fail us, but to fail the reputation of your faith. It is inherently unconstitutional to set up religion as a system of government. The Constitution expressly states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”.
It may be your personal view that the Constitution was framed by men of faith with Biblical principles, but it is clear there was not to be a government dictated by religion. To this end, let go of the same-sex marriage fight. It’s already been lost and it’s time to just love people and get to know each other for who we are and leave everything else alone. Leaving this issue part of a candidate litmus test is limiting and pointless. Moralizing in today’s political environment creates debacles like the Roy Moore disaster and that is the last thing we need or should even want.
- Stop avoiding statistical truths
One of the hallmarks of conservatism is that we tend to hold to that which is traditional. We don’t embrace change. But change still happens whether we embrace it or with change and adapt to it in fiscally responsible ways. Trump’s promise to bring the factories back was evil in my opinion, because the truth is, it’s not coming back .Not the way those in, say, coal country expect. Using coal as an example, many Republicans cite environmental regulations handed down by the EPA as the single killer of coal. The truth of the matter is much more complicated. There are economic and geological factors at play that basically created less demand for the product due to cheaper alternatives. We must acknowledge these facts rather than yell regulations and cover our ears to the response.
Making false promises to downtrodden people is not a message Conservatives should bring. We tend to be bearers of bad news. We say things like “we may have to buck up for a while or tighten up spending for a bit to get the economy back in control” and things of that nature. We tend to talk about cuts rather than entitlements. It is one of the main differences between the parties.
It is true that since Trump has been in office, manufacturing has made a comeback, but that comeback actually started in 2016 due to a.spike in Chinese labor costs.
Reshoring efforts are working and we are seeing an uptick in factories returning, but at the same time, we are seeing automation replace the laborer. Although automation is bringing jobs back to the US, it is reshaping the workforce with it. For every industrial robot utilized, 6.2 workers are out of a job. Republicans must adapt the technological era we are in. We must not keep hearkening back to the ideology of the industrial age but instead embrace where we are and streamline our goals to fit current society. We need to take back the word progressive and stop making it an adversarial term.As proponents of business, we should be the party of progression and innovation.
Another issue conservatives like to slough off is the issue of climate change. Whether you are of the belief that climate change is the main issue facing society or not, conservatives should err on the side of caution and good environmental stewardship. It would benefit us to remember that Teddy Roosevelt, a Republican, is who brought conservation and environmental efforts to the forefront. We can find some common ground between overregulation and blatant disregard and it would serve us well to do so.
Basically we need to accept that the world is changing and in order to thrive we must change with it.
- Stop fear-driven generalization
The country was founded on immigrants. Most likely one of your ancestors was an immigrant. It is true that something needs to be done to enforce immigration rules still on the books, but we need to stop painting entire cultures with a broad brush.
There should be two main goals to immigration policy 1. To gain control of our borders so we have control over who enters and 2. To streamline the legalization of the situation of the illegals among us. I do not have a problem with a border. It is the attitude regarding the border that is hurting the party.
Go pull up a video of a Trump rally and really think about it. Is that how you want to be presented to society? Do you really think yelling “build a wall” with an angry and triumphant expression on your face is going to effect positive and constructive change? The answer is a resolute no. In order to be heard regarding immigration-try walking with compassion. There are a few ways to do this. First, Stop assuming every Hispanic person you see is here illegally and thinking every person of Arab or middle eastern descent is a radical Islamist. Second, proceed with empathy. Realize that for many Hispanics who are here illegally, life is already exceedingly difficult. They have to operate in the shadows and the majority of them are here to make a better life for their families. They are not able to obtain anything legally that you and I enjoy and take for granted and we have made it so difficult to become a citizen that it is much easier to try to stay under the radar. This type of lifestyle leads to chronic stress and health issues which creates a bigger burden on our healthcare system. From a policy standpoint, our attitudes on immigration are hurting ourselves and from a personal standpoints, who are we to treat a fellow human with such disregard?
The issue of radical muslims embedded within the community is dicey. We must remember the facts. A 2017 survey indicates that there are about 3.45 million muslims in the US, 2.15 million who are adults. Roughly 58 percent of those adults are immigrants. There have been 39 cases of homegrown jihad cases in 2016 and 2017. And that includes situations as minor as weapon charges. The truth is, every observant muslim you see is not plotting to kill you so stop acting as they are. Is there cause to be concerned by the ideology of radical I? Yes. Of course there is. But their main goal is to get us to fear them. By doing that, you are feeding the very desire that drives them. We must stop speaking in broad generalizations and deal in facts.
There are many other things I would like to see in my party. I would love the name calling to end. It would great to see the gratuitous hatred fade away. If we don’t work to make these changes, I doubt if we will see a win for a very long time. The damage done in the last election fractured the party and it will take a massive effort to create a strong party that works together to create policy that is solid and lasting. I want to see a consistently strong economy and I believe in the notion of a compassionate conservative. We need to use our wealth to assist those not doing as well as ourselves, not because the government makes us, but because it is the right thing to do. Let’s be a party we can be proud of.