Republicans should embrace more forward-thinking solutions
Author: Jeff Wasden - January 5, 2018 - Updated: January 5, 2018
The start of a new year brings new resolutions and an optimistic hope for a better year to come. 2017 certainly brought several changes and whether you believe we are headed in the right direction or have front row seats on the Titanic, there are some areas where Republicans would be wise to take note. This is a great time for Republicans to exert leadership and ownership of solutions that can actually move our country forward and usher back an era of bipartisanship, decency, goodness, virtue and grace.
I have long valued the three R’s of policy and advocacy work — Respect, Responsibility and Relationships. Those seem to be in short supply as we struggle to have adult conversations amid pseudo litmus tests that basically have you dead to the self-appointed righteous holder of said test or on a one-way ride to hell. We have entered a new era of partisan politics and polarization, one where some are more interested in making statements or names for themselves than getting things done. Congressional approval ratings are at historic lows, yet we continue to send our own back “knowing they are not the problem.”
Immigration. Solutions exist today that have bipartisan support. I am tired of immigration being used as an election year wedge issue. Industry is struggling with outdated visa caps, the legal immigration system is broken, DREAMers are in limbo, and cries for a wall continue. Sit down with business and community leaders and put forth legislation that creates wins for communities, law enforcement and industry.
Trade. Trade, open markets, and capitalism have long been Republican staples. Lately, business-friendly Democrats have seized upon Republican missteps and the nationalist movement that has swept across many countries, including our own. Trade agreements like NAFTA and the ill-fated TPP create jobs, higher wages, and expanded market share and opportunities. With 93 percent of the world’s population and 87 percent of the world’s purchasing power outside of our borders, trade presents a chance to put American ingenuity and innovation to work. We need to own the mantle of world leadership and engagement.
Race Relations. While I understand many questioning the platform Colin Kaepernick used to make public a very real issue of inequality and social justice, calling him a thug, loser, or wishing him dead is ignoring a very real problem. We have serious issues affecting areas of our country that go to the heart of opportunity: education and a reasonable, fair opportunity to get ahead. While I don’t like the wearing of socks depicting law enforcement officers as pigs, I admire the willingness to take a stand. Republicans used to be the party of civil rights and justice. Too many now speak about minorities in hurtful ways and then bemoan not getting the minority vote on Election Day. Oppression, targeting individuals, failing and underfunded schools in minority communities are wrongs that are tearing our nation apart. Republicans should advance solutions that will lead to educational choice, economic freedom, and opportunities. It is time for real action.
Social media. While the various platforms have turned everyone into an instant expert or critic, there is a great opportunity to use technology to inform, educate and recruit patriots. Hiding behind keyboards and breaking the 11th commandment has done little to advance party ideals, the big tent and a party that is warm, welcoming and worthwhile. I am all for holding folks accountable, but can we do so with some decorum and respect.
Global Warming. While I admit I am no expert on global warming/climate change/climate shift or whatever the latest PC term is, many Republicans’ flat-out denial is troublesome and a political fumble to the science community and to many in the business community. The prospect of warming oceans, rising sea levels, and disruption to our ecosystem and food sources should drive everyone to sit down and look for realistic, attainable solutions. The real discussion should be on innovative solutions, costs and returns on investment, and impacts to communities and our environment. While bankrupting our economy and shutting down viable industries is not the solution, we need to incentivize industry to be a part of the solution, and the U.S. should stay involved in the global discussions.
Millennials. The workforce is changing. Boomers are retiring in droves, and our nation’s future generation is misunderstood. Cries of lazy, entitled, unfocused, and ill-equipped to contribute follow them. Republican breakfast clubs, precinct leaders and district captains continue to be dominated by older, white voters who resist the enthusiasm, infectious energy and differing ideas put forth by millennials because they haven’t earned the right or paid their time/dues. This talented, emerging voter block should be cultivated, mentored, and encouraged to contribute to moving our nation forward.
As we enter 2018 and another year of “the most important election of our lives,” we have a great opportunity to take an assertive leadership role in shaping our party’s future. Messaging and communication need to be an active part of our conversations, not an afterthought. Republicans hold the levers of power in the U.S. House and Senate and the White House. With responsible, proactive, thoughtful, and results-oriented solutions, we have the opportunity to lead our great nation forward. Understanding the power paradox — the difference between gaining power and staying in power — is an important lesson to study. In an era where many shun even using the term progressive, some forward-thinking, transformational, and enlightened approaches would serve us all well.