No, The GOP Does NOT Need A Detailed Policy Agenda
So many Republicans are stuck on stupid. Take Thomas G. Del Beccaro for example. He writes at the Weekly Standard blog that the GOP has to develop a detailed policy agenda to succeed in 2014.
What issue should be at the fore of this policy agenda?
“The nation’s finances, which are famously in bad shape.”
“Similarly, entitlement programs will cease to operate near the way the now operate—and to the effectiveness they operate—without serious reforms that better reflect the way most Americans now live.”
“Fiscal insanity will destroy America’s standard of living over time, far more than any government program could possibly ever help. It’s up to Republicans to detail serious and practical plans to avert crisis.”
Hmmm, that stuff sounds awful familiar. I have a feeling that I’ve heard candidates talk about that stuff not too long ago. I just can’t put my finger on it. Wait! I know! It was John McCain and Mitt Romney who ran on those very same issues. Well, that worked before so I’m sure we should just trot out those same issues again and bask in the love and support of low information voters across the country!
Wait. I think I’ve got that wrong. Yes, reality was a bit different. Both those mainstream Republicans got beat by the guy who promised “Hope and Change” and then promised to save Big Bird while rescuing women held captive in binders.
Del Beccaro also suggest that the GOP run against ObamaCare, which is such a no brainer it’s hardly worth mentioning.
We should also resist Del Beccaro’s faulty history. Yes, Reagan and the Contract With America were successful but not because they were so specific in their policy details but because they each tapped into the underlying feeling of America in their moments.
How many voters in 1980 really understood the Laffer Curve (or do today)? Did they really embrace the underlying economic assumptions of the Kemp-Roth tax reform plan or did they react to Reagan’s optimism that America had untapped energy that could be released to make America great again? Yes, his economic proposals were the vehicles for turning his vision to reality but first the voters had to buy into the vision. That is not accomplished by a policy book or 139 point plan for every issue on a candidates website.
The same goes for the Contract With America. How many people voted for Republicans in congressional races because they could name most, let alone all of the promises made vs. people who understood that the Democratic majority in the House had grown old and corrupt? How many had seen the Clinton promise of a middle class tax cut turn into the reality of a tax hike and wanted to see a check placed on their young and inexperienced President?
To be clear, I’m not saying policy doesn’t matter. I’m saying the GOP needs to stop thinking that people make their voting decisions based on a dispassionate review of both sides governing agenda as reflected in deep dives into policy books.
The old saying that you “campaign in poetry and govern in prose” is an old saying for a reason…it’s true. Right now the job of the GOP is to identity the mood of the country and get right with it. In an era where big institutions are viewed less favorably than ever and the true extent of disastrous big government in the form of ObamaCare is clear for all to see, the GOP should be focusing not on running those institutions better than the Democrats but making them less of a danger to the happiness of the people of the United States.
Or you could take the timeworn advice of Del Beccaro who is after all the “former chair of the California Republican party”. The California GOP is in such great shape, so why wouldn’t you want the national GOP to be more like that?