I hear that after the debacle in Mississippi last week that the Republicans on Capitol Hill are finally waking up and realizing they’re in trouble.
It’s been a long time coming. You should’ve realized it in November of 2006. Actually, you should’ve realized it before then.
I’ve told numerous people who have called me on the phone that the NRCC and RNC will get money from me when the Republicans start acting like Republicans again. Since you’re finally waking up, let me spell out in detail what it will take to get the support of your base (or at least me) once more.
- Ok, you probably don’t have much of a chance of salvaging 2008. The best you can realistically hope for is to hold the White House and for the bleeding to not be too bad in the House and Senate. However, if you want to try something for 2008, it needs to be big, and bold. Like the 1994 Contract with America. Actually, Newt Gingrich is a good source for this again. See here and here.
- Realize that this isn’t the 70s or the 80s. It’s the 2000s. If Bush and Rove have taught us anything about modern politics, it’s that you don’t get very far unless you can motivate the base (this was your failing in 2006 as well). This is where the money comes from and the most reliable voters, especially on a national scale. You can woo independents and right-leaning Democrats in a region or a state or a district, but trying to do it on a national scale is a recipe for disaster. That’s what Republicans did in the 70s. If you want Congress to look like it did in the 70s then follow that plan. It’s fine to have left-leaning “mavericks” like John McCain (R-AZ) in the party, but if you take the whole party there, you’ll lose the base. And you’ll lose your money, and you’ll lose the votes.
- Keep your pants zipped. I’m tired of reading about Republican sex scandals.
- Be the party of energy independence! How about drilling in ANWR, off the coast of FL, off the coast of CA, and in the Gulf? How about shale oil in CO? How about nuclear power? How about hydrogen power? How about wind power? How about raising CAFE (I know I'm in the minority of conservatives on this one) standards? How about NGV (natural gas vehicles)? And how about allowing some refineries to be built while we're at it?
- Eliminate Republican earmarks and pork barrel spending. This is one area where you can follow John McCain’s lead. Republicans need to stand for small government, and this is the best way you can start that as a minority party. Show me 0 earmarks for Republicans in the budgets for 2009 and 2010, and you’ll be riding strong going into the 2010 elections.
- Small government! Small government! I don’t mind investigating global warming, to see if it’s a real problem that needs real fixes, but don’t just start growing government to fix a problem that may not even exist. Move away from McCain on this one, or at least temper what he’s saying with a desire to investigate first/spend later.
- Stay the course in Iraq. Every Republican running for Congress/Senate/White House needs to read Michael Yon’s book, Moment of Truth in Iraq. There’s plenty in there that will upset both Reps and Dems, but the point of the book is this: we are at a turning point in Iraq right now. We can win it, or we can lose the war on terror right now, and it’s all about character. The Democrats are showing no character at all on this issue. Be the party of character. Republicans need to stand tall with John McCain on this.
- Secure the borders. Not as part of a “comprehensive immigration reform bill”, not as a “first step”. This needs to stand on its own. The Republican party needs to stand for this, because it’s obvious that the Democrats aren’t. This is another area where McCain is headed the wrong direction. He wants a “comprehensive plan”. Look, you prove to me that you can secure the borders, then I’m willing to listen to what you have to say about immigration. Not before. I’ve been lied to before on this one. I won’t fall for it again.
- Fight to keep the Bush tax cuts in place. Actually, I’ll do you one better later on in this post.
- I’m not so hung up on gay marriage and stem cell research as some. I think these are niche issues. If the Republicans can make use of them, great. But I suspect that they are district by district or state by state issues, not national ones for the Republican Party.
- Stand up to the mainstream media. Don’t hide behind Fox and expect them to do all your dirty work for you. When there’s a Democrat scandal and the AP doesn’t name the party, when the mainstream media twists the facts to suit their agenda, call them out on it. I want to see a live press conference on TV detailing what the New York Times did wrong this week. I know, this one is risky. Politicians don’t get very far who make enemies of the press. Guess what, though? This is like September 10th, 2001. The press has already declared war on Republicans. The Republicans just haven’t realized it yet.
- That “Culture of Corruption” thing works. Start calling Democrats to the carpet on this. How can you possibly be defending William Jefferson? How is he still in Congress?
- Point out the failures of the Democrats in this Congress. Call them on the carpet regarding their promises about earmarks and corruption and high energy prices. Point out the price of gas in November 2006 vs. now.
- Stop with the “boogeyman” letters and phone calls. You keep contacting me telling me that if I don’t donate the Democrats are going to do this, that, and the other thing, all of which are truly awful. You’ve gone to that well too often. It’s dry. You need to prove that you can do better yourselves before you can go to that well again.
- There’s one thing that you can do right now, this year, that will get me to reach into my wallet and donate as much as I can to the NRCC and individuals. Support the FairTax (H.R. 25, S.25). Make that part of the Republican platform at the Convention. The FairTax or something like it is inevitable. It’s the only way this country is going to survive the 21st century economically. Eventually, either the Republicans or the Democrats are going to realize it. Whoever realizes it first will have my eternal gratitude. You can be that party. Or you can let the Democrats have my money. It’s up to you.
That’s fifteen items off the top of my head. You’re going to have to do a majority of them before you can even get my attention. Keeping my attention is going to require nearly every single one. Some of them will be hard to accomplish as a minority party. But stand firm on these issues and make the distinctions between your positions and those of the Democrats loud and clear, and 2010 will be a better year for Republicans than 2006 and 2008.
But my original answer to the RNC caller on the phone is still the best way to put it. “Act like Republicans.”