With the sweeping victory by Republicans over Democrats yesterday in the congressional races, all eyes now turn to 2012 and the presidential and congressional elections. Don't you wish that political parties would actually focus on governing instead of just positioning themselves to win elections and amass more power for themselves? But, everything is about power these days: who has it, who doesn't, and how you can get it. That is the name of the game in Washington and anyone who thinks that there is any real substantive difference between the parties when it comes to amassing power for themselves and their special interests are fooling themselves, I think . Idealism is a thing of the past. I disagree with many of Obama's policies and am glad that he has a check to his ability to enact legislation with the newly elected Republican-controlled House, but I do admire that, in many ways, he governed according to his principles. I think his principles were wrong, but he was the first president I've seen in some time who pursued policies that were unpopular because he believed that they were right. Apparently, according to yesterday's election results, Americans disagreed with him and replaced his huge majority with a balance of power that should reign things in. That is the beauty of the American system of government. If you don't like who is power, you can vote them out if you can get enough people to agree with you. That is what happened yesterday and it has me thinking about the future.
I am not a Republican. I am a conservative independent politically. That means that I often end up voting Republican because Democratic candidates usually do not reflect conservative positions. But, I am pretty detached when it comes to caring if the Republican Party has power or is ultimately successful. In other words, while I usually prefer Republicans over Democrats because of areas of agreement, I no longer see them as the "home team," so to speak. I have become much more of a philosophical voter who is encouraged when I see politicians espousing things that I believe in when it comes to how they govern. I have realized that political parties are largely about groups maintaining power for themselves, rather than really effecting positive change in our country.
That said, I want to offer up my ideas for how Republicans can win the Presidency and the Senate while keeping the House in the 2012 elections. On February 17, 2009, I predicted that Republicans were going to make impressive gains and win the mid-term elections. Of course, I didn't have to go out on much of a limb to predict that. The minority party always picks up seats in mid-term elections. But, I was hitting at something else. This was all pre-Tea Party. I predicted that with the passage of the $800 billion stimulus package, that voter outrage would grow and Democrats would lose their majority. At the time, I said this:
Watching all this, it seems that if Republicans can come up with a coherent message, the nation will happily turn back to them in 2 years. And, they could retake the White House in 4 years if Democrats keep throwing money at our problems and missing badly.
And, that is pretty much what happened. But, what about 2012? What must Republicans do to gain even more power in 2012 (as if that is what it was all about)? Here are some ideas:
- Initiate legislative change from the House. I think that Obama is an idealogue who will not co-opt a Republican platform the way that Bill Clinton did from 1994-96. Clinton was a pragmatist. Obama is an idealist. They should slash government spending and propose fiscal responsibility while also putting forward concrete ideas on how to get the economy back on track. They should lead legislatively from the House. The Senate will not bring much of this up for a vote and Obama will veto much of what comes his way. The nation will continue to flounder economically and in 2012, the nation will be ready to make a full change
- Make as many substantive changes to Health Care as they can. This is where they need to get stuff done. They will not be able to kill it completely. The Senate won't allow it. But, they need to make it better and then highlight the changes that they made that benefit the American people. Senate Democrats will cooperate here because they want to save Health Care.
- Continually highlight the differences between Obama, the Democrats, and themselves. Now is not the time to work together. Don't be the "Party of NO," either. They need to push their own agenda in a generic form and force the Senate and White House to say no. Put them on their heels.
- Promote hope, freedom, and American ideals. Much of this means little, but it is what Americans want to hear. We want to believe that a better future awaits us. Reagan did it. Obama did it. Republicans need to do it. Marco Rubio gave a great victory speech about the ethos of America and how his life as the son of Cuban immigrants gave him great appreciation for the American ideal. Highlight this and focus on optimism and the future while giving concrete plans for how to get there.
Americans need a stark choice in 2012. We don't need two years of the Republican establishment trying to get along with Democrats and Obama while fighting off the Tea Party and seeing government stay basically the same. We don't need Republicans just trying to amass more power for themselves. We need a laser sharp focus on jobs, economic growth, the curtailing of government power, and affirmation of personal responsibility. Basically, America needs to get up off the floor and get back to work – innovating, challenging the status quo, and improving the quality of life for people all around the world. If Congressional Republicans can articulate that message, they have a shot for the whole thing in 2012. If not, they'll be headed home as well.
Ultimately, my hope is in the Lord and not in politics. But, politics is just the way that people govern themselves. As stewards of God's creation, we should govern ourselves well and consider the needs of all and try to honor God in all that we do. I do not think that Republicans are necessarily better at this than Democrats. I am strictly offering opinions as to how one party can amass more power to carry out their agenda. Next, I might write an article detailing how Democrats can regain control (think Clinton in '96).