February 23, 2005

Advice for the GOP: 2008 and 2028

Remember, no matter how good you feel about your 1994, 2000, 2002 and 2004 victories, you're not invincible. The Democrats used to be kicking your asses for the better part of two whole generations. Politics is somewhat unpredictable, despite all the predictions made about it (and the predictions I'm making now). I'm offering advice on how to be both good politicians and good policy-makers. I could give moral and ethical reasoning now, but I'll save for that for some other time. Right now, I'm making an appeal to self-interest.

Just remember to stick to the right side of history. History judges the abolitionists very well, even though in the 1830s probably only about 5% of Yankee society, tops, was really abolitionist. Even in the late 1850s abolitionists were a pretty small section of the free state population, and into the 1860s it was widely assumed that long-term racial integration on equal terms was impossible. So being on the right side of history requires long-term thinking and clear vision. I put them roughly in order - the first being least achievable, the final being most achievable.

1) Stop getting in the way of gay people. Bush is somewhat better than advertised about this in the historical context, the FMA notwithstanding, because he endorsed civil unions (initiatives like FMA are often ignored by history if they don't pass). Cheney endorsed state choice and same-sex marriage. History will view them differently than others that took more hardline oppositional views. I understand everyone has religious, moral and cultural views, but don't stand on culture on this issue because you think it's popular today.

Fifty-odd years ago it was very popular in parts of the South to oppose black integration. While the parallel between black rights and gay rights is hardly perfect, I think it's a fairly appropriate model to understand how the long-term view of the issue will develop. Trent Lott, Strom Thurmond, Zell Miller, Jimmy Carter and so forth have stuff in their pasts to disavow or ignore. Those without shady anti-gay comments will have it easier in the future. Unless you've got an objective commitment on this issue, is it worth being on the wrong side?

If you think it's wrong to be gay for independent reasons (intrinsically so, not just because society currently says so) then stick to it. But for those who oppose gay issues for either subjective, cultural reasons or simply out of opposition to Democrats, I really recommend dropping it. Especially with the referenda that just passed, gay marriage is on the back burner right now. Eventually gay people are going to get married, adopt, and live pretty unremarkable lives in every state and the more Republicans that stood in their way, the less support this affluent, highly educated minority will have for the GOP.

Maybe you're willing to write them off, but remember that it could also cause a lot of backlash with straight people that aren't gay. If you don't have a strongly-held moral or theological opinion against gays, I'd suggest you tone down your statements or even try to start taking up the reforming side.

2) Immigrants aren't bad people. Immigrants are not terrorists. Immigrants' lives suck in their old countries, so they come here - the same reason most of our ancestors came here.

Immigrants almost ALWAYS seem like they won't integrate, like they'll speak their own language forever and avoid our customs. This doesn't hold out, historically. Almost every immigrant group - Dutch and Germans, Irish, Jews, Italians, Asians, and so forth - at first seems like it will stubbornly resist mainstream integration. Eventually their kids integrate and bring with them some of their home country - good food, good music, fresh genes, etc.

Remember two things. First, Americans are much more attractive than most foreigners because we have a wide gene pool due to immigration. You'll notice how ugly inbred people are, and you can see a similar unhealthy, unmixed pall among many Europeans. Mixing of genes is healthy and attractive (avoids disease and recessive genes, primarily). Second, it's the Democrats that are supposed to be the busybodies and society-manipulators. Leave the meddling to the left and embrace immigrants for what they usually are: hard-working people that want better lives.

3) The Constitution is your friend. Don't abandon it. You will lose the respect of many intellectuals and the votes of the libertarian-leaners in the GOP - who are a bigger chunk than you'd think. The Constitution exists for a reason. It gives us the rules and processes by which our country is to operate. The Constitution and Bill of Rights should bind you guys as much as it was supposed to bind the Democrats when they were in power.

The Constitution was a friend to many GOPers during the long dark period of Democratic control in the House. Don't be a fair-weather friend to the Constitution now that you've got a taste of power.

4) Don't degenerate into an isolationist or chest-thumping foreign policy. It's okay to pull back and mind our own business, and certainly sometimes a little war-drums action is an important thing. Just don't think that foreign policy can survive on either or both of those. The focus of foreign policy, like the focus of domestic policy, has to be based on something both good and intelligent. Idealism is what propels us.

Retain and expand on the idealism that the Reagan and Bush-43 presidencies have extolled. Make it fuller and more consistent, make it stronger and better appreciated. Simply being aggressive isn't a foreign policy; any proper use of aggression always achieves some greater, idealistic end. Keep democracy and freedom at the center of the foreign policy realm.

5) You are a party of the middle class, liberty and free markets. This is and ought to remain the underlying linchpin of the GOP coalition. Don't ignore budget discipline, free trade and economic common sense. Don't give into temptation to spend your way out of any issue or to use the treasury as a tool to win the support of various groups. Keeping the identity of the GOP clear - middle class, tax cuts, strong defense, common sense, to be brief - is critical. Liberty is not negotiable when it comes to the GOP. You're there to reign in the excesses of the Democrats and to apply some consistent, intelligent common sense to foreign policy and the budget.

Now is the time to come back to the tradition that helped the GOP at its 1856 founding. Forward-thinking, intelligent, middle-class vision for a prosperous, free society. In the process of replacing the Democrats, don't become their shadow.


Blogger Asparagirl said...

Excellent post. I can only hope that they (er, we--I'm Republican) listen to you. Alas, I fear the party will drift too much towards the Religious Right instead of pure conservatism, and thus turn off a lot of would-be voters.

February 24, 2005 4:48 PM  

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