"What Should the GOP Be?"
This is the question that USA Today is submitting to bloggers and Twitterers. Here is my reply.
During my lifetime, I have noticed the deterioration of the American political system. Ours is a unique process different from every other form of government in the world. Given this difference, our leaders have a unique responsibility to those who elect them to work in our place in Washington. In the past few decades, politicians on both sides of the aisle have failed in spectacular fashion to live up to the high moral and ethical standards that were expected of them by our Founders.
Instead of honesty, integrity, and respect, we the people are treated with disdain and condescension. Policies that directly affect the lives of millions are treated in a cavalier fashion by politicians whose loyalty is to their own power, not to the people they represent. Modern politicians promise the electorate many things, but what we have received has not been what was promised. This sad state of affairs has reached its zenith with the current administration and the country is suffering as never before as a result.
This need not be.
The GOP has an opportunity to reclaim the Founding Principles and restore greatness to America. The formula, in this layman's opinion, is simple. It requires men and women to swear an oath to themselves first, before they swear an oath of public office, to treat each and every constituent as they would want to be treated and to restrain the power of government.
The current culture of American politics would befuddle even the most brilliant anthropologist. Such is the disparity between reality and politics that what is clear to the average citizen is seemingly lost on most politicians. Political words and phrases have precious little to do with the world outside of Washington. We elect our representatives with the clear understanding that they will do what we would do, but ask yourself if this is the case today.
This difference has resulted in the overall feeling that our government is operated by a foreign entity, unfamiliar with American life. The logic and reality that inhabit the everyday lives of Americans rarely enters into political discussions or policy.
Politicians are more than willing to enact laws, when under our form of government, each new law that is passed reduces our freedom. But modern politicians feel the need to justify their jobs. By appearing to be "doing something," they can tell the folks back home how 'hard they are working." But what they're really doing is placing restrictions on their fellow citizens and their ability to live their lives free of governmental intrusion as the Founders envisioned.
While we should be a nation of laws that are equally enforced for all, after a while (and after the basics of the defense of life and property are well covered), the cumulative effects of so many laws form a legal straight jacket upon the country. Modern laws are so poorly and vaguely written that most people have no idea whether they are living legally or not. This is done seemingly on purpose, as many of those who craft these laws are lawyers themselves who, once they finish with public life (if they ever do), will re-enter private life in their former profession. This appears as a great conflict of interest to the vast majority of Americans.
There are so many laws covering so many things that we can hardly be called a truly free people any more.
But I digress.
In answer to the question, I propose these solutions.
The GOP should be the party of respect: for the Constitution and for the dignity of Americans in all walks of life.
The GOP should be the party of honesty: their members should do what they say and speak plainly to the nation always. We can make informed decisions when we are given truthful information.
The GOP should be the party of prosperity: they should commit themselves to ensuring that we have the highest standard of living in the world and craft policies with this goal in mind. The power of the free market should always be recognized as a positive force for the advancement and improvement of the human condition.
The GOP should be the party of freedom: after a while, we've passed enough laws. Instead of creating new laws, old ones that have outlived their usefulness and need should be repealed. New laws should be written in plain language and reviewed by all who vote on them in Washington. If this results in a reduction of new legislation, so be it.
The GOP should be the party of individual responsibility: each American is a self-contained and self-directed party of one, responsible for fair and honest dealings with others, free to live as he or she sees fit without harming others. No one else is to blame for our own bad decisions.
The GOP should be the party of America: we are a unique and exceptional society in the world. This doesn't mean that we are superior to others, just different in how we view the necessity of governance. Our Constitution should be the sole basis of our laws. Foreign law is just that. We the people expect the principles of freedom laid out by our Founders be adhered to at all times. We don't appreciate fuzzy readings and gauzy interpretations of the plain language of the Constitution. We abhor the term "may be illegal." Something is either illegal or it isn't. We expect certainty when it comes to matters of the law.
The GOP should be the party of peace and security: we seek not to conquer, but to live our lives without fear from those who would conquer us and make us submit to their way of life. We have this right and expect our government to protect it vigorously. Our international friends should be treated as such, as should our enemies. No American should be viewed with suspicion unless they have acted in a way that is suspicious.
We can end the political deterioration of America. All it takes is for us to seek out those who agree with American ideals and demonstrate that agreement daily and then elect them to office. Once in office, our representatives have a sacred duty to uphold our laws, our societal standards and to preserve our way of life. They also have a sacred duty to be honest with us.
We can rule ourselves in the Great American Experiment. Now is the time to regain control of our government.
The GOP can be instrumental in this effort by returning to the principles and ideals that have made us the most prosperous and creative society the world has ever known.