By Sal Paradise
San Francisco – Looking towards the 2014 and 2016 elections for Senators and possible Presidential candidates, The Republican Party needs reform. Their outlook on certain policies needs reform, there needs to be less infighting amongst party members and public opinion of the GOP must be improved. It is no secret that, after the 2012 Presidential Election, it was apparent how the country reacts to a candidate such as Mitt Romney. Mitt Romney fits into what has been the status quo for Republican politics for decades and the American people are no longer buying into said politics any longer. The people are not going to vote for another old white man who promises of putting an end to middle-class taxes, an end Federal funding for programs such as abortion clinics and repealing policies made by a Democratic administration. It has been made painfully obvious that Republican candidates do not plan on taxing the middle-class any less and in fact, their 2013 budget proposal included more tax breaks for America’s top income bracket and none for the middle-class. Not to mention, in an increasingly more accepting American society, repealing Obamacare and closing abortion clinics should no longer be at the top of the priorities list for any politician seeking a successful political career.
Without party reform, the Republicans will keep churning out cookie cutter candidates with the same old policies instead of keeping with the times. The GOP cannot afford to have their most progressive candidates be Tea Partyesque neocons or Right Wing Radical Republicans. Peer pressure cannot continue to dominate Republican nominations, which have turned into an elitist popularity contest in recent years. A popularity contest that excludes the likes of Ron Paul, Rand Paul, Herman Caine and Ted Cruz, though they may be the very representatives the party needs. The mere fact that these representatives are often considered “wackos” and “radicals” is indicative of the GOP’s reluctance to change in an ever-changing political environment.
The Republican Party needs candidates who are going to push relevant issues and who will stand up, not only to Democrats, but to members of their own parties as well. Rand Paul made the news at the beginning of March, 2013 by spear-heading a thirteen hour filibusted focusing mainly on the inappropriate use of UAVs or Drones. In his keynote speech at the 2013 CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) Ted Cruz was quoted as saying he is “not afraid to knock heads with members of either party.” And he has demonstrated this in his heated debate with Diane Feinstein over the introduction of new weapons bans. These young, ambitious and unafraid politicians are the shot in the arm that the GOP needs to prevail in today’s America. Issues like new weapons bans and unmanned drones are relevant to the lives of everyday Americans on both sides of the proverbial political fence. As well as issues like economic reform, budget cuts and foreign policy. These are the things that Americans are worried about and so if the people are to be accurately represented in politics, these are the issues that need be at the forefront of talks currently taking place in Washington.
For instance, recently the Republican National Committee commisioned the “Growth and Opportunity Project,” which aimed to gather information on how the GOP can better relate to today’s voters. According to the Washington Post, the report focused primarily on the fact that Obama was able to capture the votes of a younger demographic. The report refers to this as the “cool” factor and proceeds to outline how the Republican Party may imitate this “coolness.” Exemplifying the way Republicans consistently miss the point, the report should not encourage imitation of the Obama administration, but rather policy reform that focuses on issues that draw the attention of the youth of America. For instance, Ron Paul is an old man as well as being a fairly typical conservative in the traditional sense, but he is seen by young people as a radical and a revolutionary, which has gained him a massive grass-roots following over the years. And it is not because he was young, attractive and relatable to young people, but because he speaks his mind and what is on his mind is relevant and important.
One of the most important and consistently talked about issues in post-nine-eleven America, is conflict in the Middle East. Whether it be Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Israel or Palestine, the twelve year war on terror is in the forefront of people’s minds. And somehow, all these years later, right wing Republicans still have a very aggressive view of foreign policy rather than a non-interventionist view, which is the more popular policy amongst the general public. Less foreign intervention and more focus on the problems on the homefront would be the logical next step for our country and so it makes sense that it is a popular viewpoint, but many long-standing Republican representatives do not share this view point and are still gung-ho about involvement in foreign conflicts. But party reform should take place because it is the logical next step and not because it is the popular thing to do. There needs to be real changes in the way that GOP members think and that will naturally bring about the type of reform the party needs most. It will allow candidates and representatives to follow an agenda that is good for the country and therefore good for the Republican Party.
Young representatives with new ideas and the ability to assert themselves should be welcomed rather than scoffed at by veteran Republicans. It will be the Rand Pauls and the Ted Cruzs of the world that help Republicans regain the approval and trust of the American public. It should not be wrong to have a realistic view of American policy and no representative of the people should be bullied into voting any which way simply according to party loyalty. One should not be considered a lunatic simply because his or her ideas are outside of the party norm. Do we want Marco Rubio, Sarah Palin and Paul Ryan leading the Republican party down the same old road in the same old fashion or do we want to try something new? Is it really the Republican Party that the public has grown to dislike or is it the current agenda of the party that is at the core of the general distaste for conservatives?
Representatives in government in America are just that, they represent the interests of the people. Republican or Democrat, whether they are a Governor, a Senator or a Vice-President, they are supposed to be acting in the best interests of all American Citizens and many have lost sight of that responsibility. It is clear that more war and more involvement in foreign conflict is detrimental to the United States and so it is no longer in the best interest of the people. The same applies to tax breaks for the wealthy, military spending increases, educational budget cuts, immigration reform, new weapons bans and outlawing abortion. There have been major mistakes in policy made on both sides, but what the nation needs to concentrate on in upcoming elections is who has a realistic view of problems facing the United States and who is proposing logical solutions to those problems. If Republicans want to have a better chance at winning, then they need to let some of the younger and more forward thinking members of their party take center stage. Both the Democratic and Republican Parties are in need of political reform and whichever party is able to put their own agenas, personal reputations and internal rivalries aside in order to support candidates who will commit to domestic progress, that will be the party shown the most support by voters come election time. American politics can no longer be allowed to be a popularity contest, we can not afford any more celebrity Presidents, personal agendas cannot be prioritized above the good of the people and political rivalries should not be allowed to get in the way of good legislation.