How can we cure America of her bipolar politics?
This is not a futurist post. It’s about a conservative outlook today.
Here’s the problem. America swings back and forth nationally like a pendulum between the GOP and Dems. Here’s the presidency since FDR:
FDR / Truman – Ike – JFK / LBJ – Nixon / Ford – Carter – Reagan / Bush – Clinton – Bush – Obama.
The slashes indicate a president dying or resigning, except in Bush Sr.’s case, who hung on to Reagan’s coattails. And even he lasted only one term.
It seems that America believes that one party wears her down. However, the Senate and House have mainly, but not exclusively, belonged to the Dems in all those years. So nationally, people have kind of preferred the Dems over the GOP, but barely (state government is another matter).
How does the GOP stop America’s national mood swings?
I take it as a given that the right GOP nominee will barely win the White House in 2016 after election confusion.
Here are seven long-range strategies and outlooks (not detailed policies) the GOP must follow if they want to dominate the foreseeable political future.
1. Realize that despite the GOP election victory in 2016, people will still be enamored with big government.
It’s impossible to overstate it: people will wake up the day after the elections in 2016 and realize they just turned over the reins of power to a party of apparent government-haters.
America will be nervous and forget to take her bipolar meds in 2018 and then in 2020.
She’s grown attached to game show government.
Therefore, the GOP shouldn’t obsess over penny-ante programs like NPR, PBS, NEA, NEH, artworks.gov, or school lunch programs for poor children (as some radio guys do).
Instead, the GOP can first overhaul the IRS and simplify the tax code, in the first hundred days, to the delight of voters across the political spectrum. That reformation alone may help the GOP keep Congress in 2018 and the White House in 2020.
And regulatory bureaucracies in the executive branch can be cut back as they encroach on business. Freed entrepreneurs foster job growth, where people live. And employed people will feel positive about the GOP.
2. Grow the economy before major government cuts and maybe even major reforms.
The Obama “recovery” is the slowest in many decades. Americans sense we can do better, and that’s why they’re willing to give the GOP a chance in 2016.
However, before the GOP do major cuts, they need to earn the right first, by growing the GDP, say, by four percent each quarter, minimum. Then the employment rate will grow, too.
People can overlook government austerity when they have jobs in the private sector.
Still, government reforms will be confusing for countless millions. That’s so important that I repeat it: millions will be confused and anxious about the reforms.
The friendly and charismatic president must use the bully pulpit to remind seniors that Medicare or Social Security will not be eliminated, just reformed, so the programs can continue.
3. Realize that the GOP image is one of Mr. Scrooge.
Conservatism can seem harsh because it projects the image that it doesn’t care for people. This image comes out especially in talk radio as a class (with some exceptions) and now some TV talk shows on Fox.
Appearing mean-spirited and stingy loses elections and makes America bipolar. It’s not a good national strategy.
Haven’t you noticed that Obama is cool, calm, and collected while he has “fundamentally transformed” America?
The GOP needs to show it cares for people and not harp all the time on government reforms. Just do them quietly, gradually, as the Dems have silently grown government for eighty-five years, almost behind the scenes, and with a smile, too.
The GOP has had only one recent leader with the right imaging: positive and charismatic Reagan. Dems have had several – FDR, JFK, a little of Bill; and in campaign 2008, it was Obama, though he rapidly declined. Hillary? No way. Cruz, Carson, or Trump? No. Rubio.
As noted, one substantive way conservatives can transform their Scrooge image is by growing the economy before reforming government significantly.
4. Don’t come across as harsh towards the illegals.
Speaking of changing the angry Scrooge image, have you recently watched any mega-church TV program that originates from So. Cal. or Arizona or Texas? Have you seen how many Hispanics sit in the congregation alongside whites?
I know this world well enough, since I go to a big church in So. Cal. These churches do not put up with shrill and hysterical rhetoric about deporting Hispanic parents and grandparents whose paperwork is “irregular,” when it comes down to it. They would eagerly turn against the Harsh Party (and I imagine Catholic churches would, too).
Political optics – and reality – is important. The GOP had better proceed with extreme caution in implementing immigration reform. In fact, I believe that on this issue the GOP and churches are already or are about to drift apart in opposite directions.
If we nominate a nativist or just a harsh reformer, the GOP will lose big in 2016 (and beyond). Again, this is another reason why Spanish-speaking Rubio is my choice at this time in our history: immigration needs to be dealt with, but only with wisdom and compassion (think of all those sympathetic churches).
5. Understand the news media.
After victory in 2016, the GOP will believe everyone’s their friend. Handshakes and high fives all around. But they mustn’t be fooled. The news media will remain entrenched in their prejudice. They will be glad to show how the government cuts will hurt the poor.
To counter this, the GOP’s messaging must improve, going through and around the MSM.
6. Drop the belief that conservatives can “fundamentally transform” America in one or two elections cycles.
Liberals and leftists have been transforming America for eighty-five years since FDR. LBJ had his War on Poverty. Even liberal Nixon grew government. Reagan couldn’t slow it down, for the Dems always controlled the House. Now Obama has increased its reach.
It may not take conservatives eighty-five years to get America back to a slim Lady Liberty and trim Uncle Sam, but it certainly cannot be done in one or two election cycles. Sudden moves frighten bipolar America.
7. The GOP needs to handle foreign policy carefully.
The GOP lost the White House in 2008 for several reasons, but one is that people became war-weary.
Yet some in the party today can appear like hawks on steroids.
The president has to be very careful about sending a large number of troops into the Middle Eastern morass, though this may have to be done eventually.
But here are some things the GOP can do immediately with no political backlash:
Rebuild the military.
Instantly cancel the Iran deal.
A presidential visit to Israel is in order – first. Then he can visit Iraq, Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia. He can even call for a pan-Arab conference to discuss their concerns and Iran.
Reassure our allies along the Pacific Rim that America stands with them. The president should hold a conference in Tokyo, Seoul, Manila, or Singapore.
Eastern Europe needs attention. Hold a NATO conference over there–maybe in Gdansk, Poland, where a new birth of freedom and reform came about.
In the first two years, the new president can focus on foreign policy, while waiting for his simple economic reforms to grow the GDP and stimulate job growth.
The GOP must transform its image immediately and retransform America only incrementally.
“But…but you’re asking the Republicans to behave like Democrats!”
No, impatient conservatives. Please get this. It will cure your inaccurate read of your own country.
Here it is: America gets nervous about sudden moves from politicians who angrily “feel the zeal.” Appearances matter. The selfie generation votes.
The Dems lost the House in 2010, almost lost the Senate in 2012, and eventually did in 2014. They were too hasty in implementing their programs. America was nervous and forgot to take her bipolar meds.
However, if the GOP keep calm and move slowly and methodically, quietly, confidently, and in a friendly way, then they will give themselves the best chance to win in 2018, 2020, and beyond.
On Nov. 8, 2015, this post appeared on American Thinker as “How the GOP can dominate politics past 2020.” The omissions and errors have been corrected.