Lately, a lot of the media have been claiming that the GOP needs to become ‘more moderate’. We need to embrace big government, Keynesian stimulus, and higher taxes; and stop being ‘fringe’.
There’s just one problem with that: We already have a liberal party in Washington. You may have heard of them.
Our country faces big questions in the coming years. What is the proper size of government? Is health care a right, and if so should the government force us to buy it? Should government only protect our rights, or focus on income redistribution?
These are questions that we as a nation must grapple with, and we as the GOP have a moral imperative to offer voters a legitimate choice on these subjects. A country whose only two partiers are those of big-government and bigger-government is a country that disenfranchises those millions of citizens who want truly small government.
This is not to say that the GOP needs to be the party of opposition. We shouldn’t mindlessly oppose something just because Democrats champion it; and indeed, on some issues we need to recognize that Democrats have the right of it. Gay marriage, for example, is a right. You are either born gay or you’re not, and those born gay should have the same right—not just to marry, but to marry the romantic love of your life—that straight people already enjoy. The GOP is on the wrong side of history on this one, and when we tell people who they can and can’t spend their lives with, we risk alienating people who otherwise agree with our small-government policy. Among the coveted youth, 79% support gay marriage.
A second area we would do well to evolve in is foreign policy. The party of small-government should not be the party of endless war. Again, we already have a pro-war party. It is the party of FDR, the party of Wilson; the party that, just or not, got us into two World Wars, increased the deficit 13-fold, and expanded our operations into Libya. It is the party that supports drone strikes on US citizens. Of course, not all the sins of war are on one side. But we should eschew the interventionism of Reagan and George W. Bush, where Republicans and Democrats seem to compete for the neocon vote. As small-government conservatives, we should stand true to our principles and avoid the sort of nation-building abroad that has already cost $3.2 Trillion. Just as important, we should offer voters a genuine choice between the interventionist policies Obama seems to be embracing, and a legitimate Constitutional foreign policy.
The fact is that most of our issues have two sides. Keynesian or Austrian? Pro-choice or pro-life? More guns or less guns; more regulation or less; a government that champions the free market or one that redistributes wealth? The GOP needs to become the party that offers voters a legitimate choice on these issues. In many ways, that means we need to become more conservative. We need to become Austrian economists and true champions of small government.
If the GOP simply becomes the party of slightly-less-big government, we will have sold out our principles. More importantly, we will have sold out millions of citizens who want elections to mean a true choice between competing ideologies.
But if we embrace true constitutional conservatism, we can pick up legions of voters in Democratic strongholds. If we absolve ourselves of the neocons and Pat Robertsons of the GOP, we can excite a generation of young people and once more become the party ascendant.
We have a moral obligation to offer voters a genuine choice opposed to the party. We have a moral obligation to stand for small government and free trade instead of bombs. And in this case, which is so rare in Washington, what is morally right is also what will win us elections.
We’ve tried the Mitt Romney, John McCain, big-government tax-and-bomb approach. It failed. Let’s give Constitutional conservatism a try.