“As I look out at the political landscape now, I find plenty of slogans on the Republican side, but not very many ideas."
Bob Bennett, Republican Senator from Utah
A little known fact--not too many years ago, I considered myself a Republican. Not that I ever really thought much about politics back then, but...
More recently, I registered as Republican--but that had more to do with being able to vote in the primaries in Utah (the winner of the Republican primaries in Utah almost always wins office) than actually agreeing with the Republican platform.
I'm also a big fan of moderate Republicans (Jon Huntsman's my hero, and I used to like McCain before he conformed).
But I'm not a Republican. And, at least most of the time, I won't vote for Republicans. If Republicans want to win me back, here's what they need to do.
1. Focus on cost effectiveness. Eliminating a huge money-saving provision in the healthcare bill by falsely labeling it a "death panel" is not the way to go about this. Nor is giving huge amounts of money to defense contractors. Republicans complain about high taxes and about how much the government is spending; if they truly believe this, they need to focus on cost effectiveness. Instead of attacking programs that help people, they need to focus on how to provide the same benefits at a lower cost. It's not hard. For example, changing food stamps so that they can only be used for specific healthy foods (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy, etc.) instead of on candy, potato chips, and soft drinks. How would this save money? By driving Medicaid costs way down. Simple solution. Still taking care of the poor, but saving big money doing it.
2. Be pro-science. Obviously, the Republican party has significant links to Big Oil and the religious right, two organizations that have some definite anti-science leanings, at least in regards to specific areas. (They also have big links to tobacco, which also used to have anti-science leanings, but got overwhelmed by an enormous amount of scientific information regarding the dangers of tobacco). Granted, some Democrats are anti-science when it comes to vaccines and such, and both McCain and Romney believe evolution occurs (as opposed to Palin and Hucklebee, who don't), but overall, Democrats are more scientifically literate.
3. Be pro-education. Education is an investment. Smart Republicans would negotiate with teacher unions, and offer decent money (ie--a living wage) to teachers (especially young teachers) in return for less job security (meaning ineffective teachers would be able to get booted more easily).
Also, they would implement summer programs that would allow high school students the chance to graduate a year early. Schools would save money by using resources (school buildings and teacher benefits) more effectively, and more teachers would have the opportunity to work--and get paid--for work done in the summer. There's the cost-effectiveness idea again.
4. Charge people for driving on roads. Roads should be paid for by those who use them. I'm not suggesting we toll every road; I'm suggesting we pay for roads, road repairs, and road maintenance solely through gasoline taxes, and decrease all other taxes that currently pay for roads. Benefits? People actually pay for what they use. Plus, less air pollution, reduced medical costs because of reduced air pollution, and a greater incentive to move away from our addiction to oil.
5. Be willing to negotiate and compromise on immigration. Focusing solely on "strengthen the border" while ignoring everything else is stupid. We need comprehensive reform, and it won't happen as long as Republican politicians continue to make foreigners scapegoats. Half the children being born in the US are minorities, and unless the Republican party starts recognizing this, and starts showing these minorities more respect, the Republican party will die with the baby boomers.
Any other ideas for Republicans? I think Republicans have a lot of good ideals (limited government, an emphasis on high moral standards, etc.) But I have to agree with Bob Bennett. Republicans currently have plenty of slogans, but not enough real ideas.