Capturing the Reagan Center
I do not believe that Republicans should “moderate” their views.
Recently, a liberal blog wrote that I said the Republican Party needs to “moderate” its views. I never used the word moderate. The GOP needs to stick to core principles but be more realistic about how to fight for them.
Here’s what I said in that National Review article:
“I’m trying to explore ways in which the Republican Party can make itself viable nationally, so it can win national elections without sacrificing its basic principles,” Morris said. “That’s the mission I’ve set for myself.
Obama has deconstructed the electorate into special interest or ethnic constituencies to create a winning coalition.
In his first inaugural speech he spoke of following those who fought at “Concord, Gettysburg, Normandy and Khe Sanh,” national symbols, all. But in his second inaugural, he urged us to follow those who marched at “Selma (Blacks), Seneca Falls (Woman), and Stonewall (Gays),” each symbols for a disparate constituency group.
The Republican Party often needlessly offends each element of the Democratic coalition. Blacks by its past opposition to voting rights, Latinos over immigration reform, gays by its antipathy to their marrying and women over abortion rights.
Many of these special interest Democratic voters would vote for the GOP if the Republicans were smart enough to repackage and reposition themselves slightly while keeping to central GOP doctrines of less government, less debt, and less spending — ideas that resonate with the grand majority of Americans.
We do not need to change our core beliefs. We just need to approach them more sensibly and delicately.
On immigration, many Republicans are pragmatically worried that legalizing 12 million would just add to the Democratic electoral majority.
But these Republicans can still embrace immigration reform as proposed by the Rubio plan, which increases border security dramatically, gives current illegals work permits so they can pay taxes (no free rides!) and contains steep restitution fees for breaking the law.
And no one gets citizenship automatically — it can take 10 to 15 years to gain it under the Rubio plan — so we will have no tidal wave of new Democratic voters swamping us.
Meanwhile, by embracing such a plan, the GOP can gain many new voters today among Hispanics. Here’s why. Polling that I have conducted suggests that Latino voters in the U.S. are far closer to Republican views on abortion, gay marriage, welfare, entitlements, public indebtedness, family stability, drugs and crime.
Indeed they see Democrats as peddling the same message that their old leaders back home pushed — entitlements, debt, big government, corruption and class warfare — which created such a mess that they came to America in the first place. They sharply differentiate themselves from those who lean on entitlements and want instead to follow in the footsteps of hard working immigrants who rise by their initiative and labor.
Latinos vote Democrat because Republicans oppose immigration reform. And Republicans oppose immigration reform because they worry that Latinos will vote Democrat, a self-fulfilling prophesy.
Similarly, another voter group, women, don’t love abortion. Like most Americans they abhor the extremes of the right — that rape is “an act of God” — and of the left — easy and third trimester abortions. They agree that abortion is a not a good thing and should be avoided, if possible.
By insisting that Roe v. Wade be overturned, something that will not happen, the Republican party is frightening women voters and, at the same time, losing the ability to enact laws that will, in fact, greatly reduce the number of abortions. They do no service to the cause.
The GOP can remain staunchly “pro-life” and “pro-family” but re-focus our efforts at preserving life by reducing the number of abortions rather just focusing on completely denying their legal availability.
Efforts to reduce the number of abortions are working. The number of abortions has dropped from about 1.4 million in 1992 to slightly more than 700,000 today. Teen pregnancy is down 42 percent. Those are good things we can all support.
So let’s work together to reduce abortions further by a whole range of strategies: birth control, abstinence education, waiting periods, parental notification and consent, adoption subsidies and the like. We don’t need to scare women voters into the hands of the Democrats.
On the controversial issue of gay marriage, the GOP can make it clear that marriage is a social compact that must conform to the norms of each society. The Founding Fathers set up a wonderful system that allows almost all social issues to be dealt with by state and local governments. So, if the people of a state find that marriage between gays conforms to their standard, so be it. And likewise for states that want to ban it.
But the Republicans can and should resist the courts trying to jam gay marriage down our throats by inventing some constitutional right that Thaddeus Stevens probably never thought of when he wrote the 14th Amendment.
While pivoting ever so slightly on issues like immigration, abortion and gay rights, the GOP can be even more aggressive on core issues.
We need to stand stronger on spending, debt and taxes. These are our central to our philosophy of limited government and our belief in the free enterprise system. These issues win the support of the bulk of the American people while the divisive social issues do not.
In the 1990s, the Democrats under Bill Clinton needed to shed their image of being weak on crime, permissive on drugs and tolerant of welfare abuse in order to prevail over their core issues of education, the elderly and the environment. So they adapted, adopting many Republican strategies such as abolishing welfare. Now, the Republicans need to return to the Reagan center of the party— opposing big government, decrying over-regulation, and determined to cut our debt, public spending and tax levels.
Then Republicans can win and win big.