Approximately as published in the Leavenworth Times Community Blog, May 7, 2013. I added Charles Krauthammer to list of opinion-makers.
As a conservative, I’m hardly objective about Republicans. I see them as well-meaning, sometimes effective but often stupid and incompetent, but I may have gone too far. But, there are some facts to base my criticisms on, and they are obvious and irrefutable. It’s my evaluation of them that people may argue with.
The facts? The Republican Party is a huge umbrella under which many idealist groups come together to act at a national level. The majority of Republicans come from business owners, managers, and the white-collar workforce; present and past members of the military, and well-educated men and women, and Christians of all faiths. These people may be found in all walks of life, but in general a greater percentage of those who work for a living and pay taxes are Republican than are Democrats.
Those who vote Republican range from moderate to conservative to Libertarian. Most believe that capitalism provides the highest standard of living, believe government should allow the greatest personal and economic freedom consistent with public security, want government budgets balanced and don’t like large government debt, and believe in the American way of life and are patriotic. They mostly love America. Unlike most Democrats, who seem to value emotional response over critical thinking, Republicans are more likely to argue using logic and are not as quick to resort to personal attacks on the other side.
Some Republicans, like some Democrats, are fanatic on single issues – the “Pro-life” crowd is an example. Another one issue group are the gun advocates. Republicans often agree on economic issues but there is a much greater range of opinion on social and personal freedom issues. Libertarians (who usually vote with Republicans) mostly favor elimination of laws against mind-altering drugs, prostitution, and abortion.
Republicans contend with Democrats for power in the United States. Political power brings money (in astronomical amounts) and benefits. Republicans endlessly employ certain tactics, such as: constantly trying to cut taxes and government spending, except for spending on national defense. They look for ways to make the government more efficient. They want to reduce costs of entitlement programs, while still providing for the really needy. They want less regulation of business and a strong economy. They try to be moral and ethical and are much harder on their own when lapses are discovered.
Contrary to Democrat propaganda, Republicans couldn’t care less about lowering taxes for the rich, except they know the rich create jobs and taxing them more will hurt the economy. They have a greater understanding of economics than most Democrats, and realize that businesses only succeed when they are profitable. They know that successful businesses employ people and enhance the economy.
Most Republicans believe that helping the poor should be voluntary, and that government should provide a safety net but should not support a huge population of those who are able to work but don’t want to. They are not particularly sympathetic to criminals, illegal aliens, and drug addicts. The majority believe that marriage should be defined as being between a man and a woman.
The Democrat Party’s 2012 platform is much like the Republican Party 2012 platform (download as pdf from here). These were the platforms used with the 2012 elections. Platform planks are promises to follow certain policies if elected. At a high level, the platforms are similar. As always, the devil is in the details.
My evaluation begins here.
Most Republicans have a conscience. They want to do the right thing. But there are so many different folks telling them what the right thing is, including those on the left, so they become confused and go astray. They should be conservative, but often, they ignore conservative principles. Therein lies the problem as I see it.
Republicans, elected or otherwise, are all over the map on issues. Often, they try to be “bi-partisan” and give weak opposition to Democrat initiatives, to the detriment of Republicans and the American People. In my opinion, Republicans should follow conservative principles, but are too often moderate. You can argue that there are “establishment” Republicans and conservative Republicans, and they rarely exist in one body. The “Tea Party” folks are conservative, but are often bitterly opposed by establishment Republicans such as Lindsey Graham, John Boehner, and John McCain. In the 2010 mid-term and the 2012 presidential elections, many less conservative Republicans were replaced, but there are still a large number in office and the Republican agenda is often dominated by them.
Many conservative opinion-makers are largely ignored by the Republican Party as a whole. The most important conservative opinion-maker is Rush Limbaugh, who has been broadcasting since about 1988, some twenty-four years. His enduring representation of main-stream conservative opinion is almost impeccably accurate, and Liberals hate him, which proves his worth. Perhaps the next most important is Bill O’Reilly of Fox News, who claims to be independent, but I rate most of his opinions as conservative, and his is the most highly rated network news opinion program. Other important conservative voices include the Heritage Foundation, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, Laura Ingraham, Charles Krauthammer, Michelle Malkin, Newt Gingrich, and Thomas Soul. Important conservative voices in Congress include Paul Ryan, Rand Paul, and Marco Rubio. As each new issue surfaces, these folks analyze and form opinions, many of which are ignored, compromised, or corrupted by establishment Republicans.
At the general level of opinion, Republicans strongly favor a strong economy, and most realize that capitalism is the way. They favor small, efficient government. They favor tax reform, in general. Yet, they often fail to take steps to get there. Why do they fail? Insufficient intellect, ineffective leadership from the party, lack of in-depth knowledge about issues, and poor party discipline are key reasons. They hear the seductive voices of the left.
To sum up, Republicans fail because they aren’t conservative, and they aren’t smart enough to know they should be. When they vote with Democrats, they become part of the problem.