Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Republican Identity Politics

I am concerned about the RNC. Sincerely I am. Not because I agree with their leaders and policies but because I care about democracy. In order for democracy to function well, it needs various reasonable and sound voices informing and vying to influence citizens and their representatives. With a Democratic president and super majorities in both Houses of Congress, the RNC needs to regain its footing and get back into the fray. I suggest three things.

First, rediscover conservatism's core principles of limited government, fiscal restraint, unfettered capitalism and unabashed love for God and country. But create a platform that is relevant to the current time and spirit. Doing the latter does not necessarily mean compromising ideals. For instance, these extraordinary times demand an expansion of government. A necessary evil perhaps yet undeniable. However, this change does not have to be permanent. Legislators can agree to policies that extend government's reach with a guaranteed deadline. Another example is revisiting definitions of family as wider society begins to accept its various forms - straight, gay, single parent, extended, mixed race and multinational. Protecting all kinds of families does not diminish the idea of family. On the contrary, acknowledging what already exists in great numbers from big cities to small towns can only strengthen the nation.

Second, raise up leaders who think rationally and speak well reasoned arguments rather than react instinctively and spew vitriol. Identify women and men who truly want to serve people not only their ambitions - individuals with integrity. Unfortunately, those who have taken the reins care more about their future than the present realities of their constituents and fellow Americans who do not have the power, privilege and security they enjoy.

Finally, Republicans might want to try out bipartisanship and take the president's extended hand. This will prove to Americans that they do know people are hurting and that they are more concerned about finding a solution than doggedly clinging on to "principles." Moreover, they can take an active and vital role in diminishing the polarization that seeps beyond Washington and poisons our democracy.

Republicans are engaging in Identity Politics. Yes, Identity Politics. After all, they are the minority. But Identity Politics does not preclude participation and cooperation. If they are to remain relevant, the GOP needs to get it together.

Image from Applesauce.

1 comment:

Erwin de Leon said...

Note today's editorial from the New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/24/opinion/24tue1.html?_r=1&ref=opinion.