The Economist, whose writers and editors mostly live in one of Europe’s many welfare states (that would be the UK), lectures our presidential candidates on how to keep businesspeople interested by talking about smaller government. They blame the socons for distracting the Republicans from talking about taxes, trade, and healthcare to talk about God, guns, and gays. I have an answer for the Economist: none of these Republicans (except possibly for Rudy and Ron Paul) actually believe in small government. They pander their little hearts out, because they know it’s a popular message for fiscal conservatives — making government smaller, and taking power away from government. Don’t think for a second that most of these candidates believe there should be less government. This is especially true of candidates like Mike Huckabee, a guy who is popular with socons and libs alike, who wants to use the power of the federal government to impose the Arkansan nanny-state on the federal level. I’m glad he lost weight, but it should not be the federal government’s job to make you stop smoking, eating fast food, or to make more healthy choices in your life.
There’s nothing wrong with talking about issues that resonate with the many social conservatives in the Republican base, but I think that the Republican party needs to broaden its message. The one thing that attracted me initially to the Romney campaign was that he was the only guy talking about education and health care, normally issues co-opted by Democrats. The Republican party should be a party that remains true to its values on “God, guns, and gays”, but we shouldn’t allow the only ideas on education, taxes, trade, health care, and poverty to come from the Democrats. The Democrats had 40 years to fix education and health care, and they still promise to fix them when their candidate becomes President. Maybe it’s time to find alternatives to what the Dems have been proposing. We should not allow issues that everybody cares about to be the primary domain of a party with more questions than answers.
The Republicans have been a distracted party, but this distraction certainly doesn’t come from wayward socons. It comes from getting too comfortable with power to constantly re-evaluate what’s working and what’s not working, and to come up with innovative ideas for reform and change that would really make a difference in our lives. I’m not talking about new government programs. What I’m talking about is ways to empower people, not politicians. We hear all the time from the left about people-powered politics. The frustration both left and right share is with the Washington establishment bureaucrats who have stopped taking risks, and politicians who have stopped listening to what the people want. The system enables this malaise, and that is why Newt Gingrich’s American Solutions is such a revolutionary concept. It allows ordinary people to have a voice and provide ideas for reform.
I’ve said all along that the dissatisfaction with the Republican presidential candidates is more about their lack of vision than any credentials they may lack with economic, social, or fiscal conservatives. They don’t have any big ideas to inspire the base. Maybe this will change closer to the election, but to keep the activists motivated, our nominee can’t just run as “Not Hillary”.