I've been thinking about this for a while: I'd like to write a bit about why I take the positions that I do. Over the last couple of years, I've heard much support and agreement with what I've posted. On the other hand, I know that my posts have angered and annoyed many as well - especially, ironically, some of my fellow conservatives.
Today's post won't be about a specific issue. The political climate has calmed from a boil to a deep simmer, and I think that this is a good time to simply explain my thinking and the reasons that I've taken the positions that I have.
To begin, most Americans believe that the two major parties leave them with a poor option and a poorer option. Very few firmly believe in the parties - even in their own party. Republicans should be especially aware of this as we survey the carnage of the primary season. This is failing. Call me ridiculous, but failure is not good enough.
It is not good enough to simply be "not as bad as the other side." I have heard Republicans say something like, "We are bad, but hey...at least we aren't the Democratic Party." That is not an acceptable state of affairs. Americans should have parties in which they can believe and of which they can be proud, not ones that are merely tolerable if both nostrils are pinched closed.
Conservative economic, security, tax, and spending policies are sound and should not have merely conservative (narrow) appeal. These are policies that would work for most Americans, yet most Americans do not support the party that espouses them - and haven't supported that party since, shockingly, the 1980's.
In fact, the GOP now loses the popular vote nearly every single election cycle by generally-growing margins. This happens because we frequently lose women and always lose blacks, Hispanics, Asians, and so on.
We lose every large American city. Of our four largest states, we consistently lose two (California and New York), occasionally lose another (Florida), and, for the first time in modern history, have seen the fourth (Texas) be labeled "purple," not red. (For a Republican, there is no path to the White House that does not run through Texas, so this should be truly disconcerting.)
We can reliably count only on the rural vote - this in a country that is urbanizing. We can reliably count only on the white male vote - the only major demographic that is declining as a percentage of the population.
Some argue that 2016's election results should soothe these fears. I disagree. This year, Republicans maintained control of both houses of Congress, but we now have smaller margins in both. (Yes, we lost ground in both.)
A Republican won the White House, but he did so against an incredibly unpopular challenger and after losing the popular vote by a record margin (for a winner of the Electoral College, at least). We should not be lulled into a false sense of security by these "paper tigers." The Democratic Party is 11 million members larger than the Republican Party, and the long-term demographic and overall public opinion fundamentals in this country remain decidedly against us.
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We must not make excuses for all of this. That does no one any favors, least of all ourselves. We must not blindly blame American society, the "liberal media," or any other outside factor. Sure, there are external challenges, but we cannot control those, so it is irrational to concern ourselves only with those.
Let's be honest: there are legitimate problems with the Republican Party itself that push potential voters away. Those are problems that we can influence, and they are where our attention should rest for the time being. We must reform our own party - it's platform, it's message, is messengers, it's strategy, and more.
Unless we want to eventually cede permanent control of the White House to an increasingly liberal Democratic Party, we must find a way to get our own Republican house into order. There is no structural reason that American cities could not support us. There is no structural reason that the black community could not support us. These are not laws of nature. It is time for us to broaden our appeal geographically and demographically. It is time for us to be the party that makes people proud to be members and proud to be American. We should not set limits for ourselves or for this country.
That is why I have taken the difficult, self-critical positions I have: I want the 21st Century Republican Party to be the "New Republican Party," one that draws the support of broad swaths of American society and that can put conservative principles to work for all Americans. It should be an open and welcoming party. There is room under the conservative umbrella for everyone except for those who don't think there's room under the umbrella for everyone.
It is true that there is plenty within the Democratic Party worth criticizing. We Republicans cannot impose change on their party though. We can, however, impose change on our own party, and that is precisely what we should do. The surest way to reform the Democratic Party is to increase Republican appeal. If the Republican Party reformed itself and became the party of choice for Americans, I assure you that the Democratic Party would take notice.
We don't do this by being unwilling to compromise. (It's ironic that as much as many Republicans talk about "what the Founders wanted" while also refusing to compromise at all, they fail to acknowledge that the Founders were incredibly proud of their ability to reach compromises with each other. Compromise defined the founding of this nation.)
We must sincerely look within ourselves and within our own party and remove everything that should not be there. If you believe that "any of ours are better than any of theirs," then you're very partisan and are not being realistic. (For example, do you think that "any of ours were better than any of theirs" back when Ronald Reagan was a Democrat?)
If you think that the Republican Party takes a better position on every single issue than does the Democratic Party, then, again, you're very partisan and are not seeing the true, objective nature of the issues.
If you think that the Republican Party is more open and more tolerant than is the Democratic Party, then you're wrong. The truth of the matter is that there are certain demographics that the Democratic Party simply doesn't tolerate well. There are, however, several "classes" of voters that Republicans simply do not tolerate either. Anyone who was "on the edge" as to which party to vote for in this last election and who visited conservative forums online would have found ample reason to doubt the willingness of many Republicans to tolerate differences of opinion, culture, etc. Let's not be hypocritical about this.
It is time for critical thinking, balanced information, and objectivity to prevail. We Republicans love to complain about the "liberal media." To be sure, "the media" do tend to the Left. Let's be honest here too though: most Republicans get their news only from Drudge Report, Fox News, The Washington Times, Townhall, Lucianne, and even Breitbart (when we're not simply getting it from late night talk shows and Facebook, a shortcoming that we share with the Democrats). All of those are conservative - not balanced - media outlets. So while the media overall tend to be liberal, we see the problem as even more pronounced than it actually is because we compare it to the sources I just mentioned - sources whose clear objective is to cater to a conservative audience. I
think that those sources (except Breitbart) play an important role in the national dialogue because the Right needs to have a voice as well. We should not let ourselves believe that they are fully objective either though. They aren't. During the recent elections, many Republicans were so determined to believe everything they heard and agreed with, that they were willing to accept even stories planted in our media by a hostile foreign power (Russia). Please, let's not be hypocritical here either.
We have to be able to acknowledge that ANY source that leans one way (whether conservative or liberal) is not a fully objective source. We should be watching news and taking our information from a set of sources that stretches across the mainstream political spectrum and should then use research and critical thinking to genuinely consider why we disagree with some of what we hear and why we agree with some of the rest.
We are every bit as guilty as are the Democrats of seeking out news outlets with which we generally agree and immediately allowing them to confirm our opinions without further question. We are every bit as guilty as are the Democrats of labeling any news source with which we do not generally agree as "biased" and/or as "bought by the" other side.
(***As an aside, I'd like to inject one tangential opinion here. I'm very tired of hearing fellow Republicans whine about the "liberal media" and unfair treatment for conservatives. Yes, the media are largely liberal. Yes, conservatives are frequently given a raw deal. That's life though. Politicians campaign for some of the most important and most difficult jobs in the world. If they cannot handle the American media, how then can we expect them to handle hostile foreign leaders? Sure, it's unfair - but it's a whole lot cleaner and fairer than what will be dealt to us by people like Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping. Whining about the media on the part of the GOP is making excuses for failing to resonate with Americans. Do you know who else wasn't treated fairly by the media? Ronald Reagan. He still found a way to communicate his message to the American public and to deliver results. Rather than worrying with the media bogeyman, worry with delivering results. If the GOP takes care of results, then the media will take care of themselves. The votes will come.***)
It's time for all of us to be able to see where the other side is right and where we are wrong and to learn from their successes and failures. It's time for us to be able to reach across the aisle. It's time for us to take the initiative - to be very proactive - in healing our nation's divisions. (Yes, we should do this even when we believe that the other side is at fault. Deadlock and division serve the interests of none of us regardless of who is at fault. On the other hand, healing all of this serves all our interests regardless of who makes the "first move." So why not us? Why not the GOP?)
Some might wonder why I am being so "partisan": why spend so much time and effort on a party? After all, isn't the country far more important? Indeed it is, and I would love for there to be no political parties at all. One-party rule, however, is not good for anyone except for those who are running that one party, and I am not willing to let us cede more and more ground to the Democratic Party. It would not be good for America if the Democratic Party were the only dominant party just as it would not be good for America if the GOP were the only dominant party. We need competing ideas and choices, and thus America needs the GOP to be viable and to present compelling alternatives. So I see ensuring the long-term health of our parties as helping to ensure the long-term health of this great "experiment in democracy."
It is time for us to stop having an "us or them" mentality. It is time for us to stop seeing politics as a zero-sum game. (It is neither zero sum nor a game.) It is time for us to stop allowing another's beliefs to color our impression of that person as liberal or conservative. Policies are what matter.
For example, whether someone believes that global warming is real does not determine whether that person is liberal or conservative. Instead, policies - how a person wants to respond to global warming - is what makes that person conservative or liberal. If that person wants to respond with cap and trade, then that's liberal. If that person wants to respond with targeted tax incentives and certain types of entrepreneurial assistance, well, that's a conservative position. This is but one of many examples, but we must stop simply making quick judgments as to who's on "our side" and who's on "their side" based purely on one's beliefs. That's not enough. It's time for us to get back to discussing and understanding policy. After all, policy - not beliefs - is the job of our elected leadership.
Policy should be what influences our opinions, and we should be able to critically analyze policy proposals.
I'm conservative and am proud to be a Republican, but I'm also well informed and am very willing to see the faults in my party, to call them out, and to address them. It was Thomas Jefferson who said that institutions should change with the times. The Republican Party is an institution. We must change with the times. Many people have cursed at me online and/or deleted me from their Facebook because of my positions.
These are Republicans who are simply looking for confirmation of their beliefs and who are unwilling to tolerate differences, and persisting on this uncompromising and intolerant path will eventually lead to the GOP's inability to compete successfully for the White House. Why don't you instead try engaging me and understanding why I feel that way that I do? I assure you that it is all with the best of intentions.
There is no reason that conservative principles can't appeal broadly. We have to make it so though: we are not entitled to votes. It is not the job of the American people to come to us. Rather, it is our job to go to the American people. I envision a nation with two well-intended parties that respect each other but that simply disagree about matters of policy. I envision an electorate that informs itself and can intelligently discuss matters of politics without personally insulting the other side. Nothing could stop the United States of America if those were the case. Nothing. So why can't it start with us?
If we want to make the United States everything she can be for every single citizen, then we must be everything we can be for every single citizen. We don't do that by being exclusive and "not as bad as the other side." We do it by being inclusive and by being effective in our own right. That's my goal, and that's why take the positions that I do.
It's time for us to have a party that sees everyone as American first and foremost. Many people "like" statements like this but quietly associate it with being liberal. How many actually incorporate that into their thinking, their posts, their voting, and more? Let it start with us.
In short, I take the positions I do because I take the long-term view, not the short-term view. I want the best for our party and our country. That's why.
-Dear Mr. Republican
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