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The Needs of the Republican Party

Republican party - take note. Conservatives are feeling alienated. Here are 3 things that must change about the Republican party in order to keep the loyal conservatives in the party.

As a conservative by declaration and action, I find myself a bit lost in today's political world. I have traditionally felt very comfortable in the Republican party as I felt it also held to my conservative principles. Lately, after licking my wounds from what I consider unacceptable loses, I find myself bewildered that the Republican party has abandoned traditional conservative principles.  At least in action the Republican party has abandoned conservative principles; it certainly isn't difficult to find a Republican candidate that talks a good game from the sidelines, but completely drops the ball when put into the game. So I assume many conservatives feel the same dilemma that I do; skip out on the Republican party to join a third party, skip out of voting in order the punish the Republican party, or keep screaming at the Republican party in hopes that they will eventually hear us.

Facing this dilemma, maybe the first step in making a decision should be to put a few thoughts on "paper" that describe what I think the Republican party needs in order to keep my vote.

Fiscal Conservatism

The Republican party needs candidates that understand the simple principle of living within your means. More often than not we are tempted to suggest that only politicians are confused by this simple principle. The reality is that the vast majority of America has fallen victim the temptation of debt. I believe this is why the American voter is incapable of recognizing a candidate that isn't truly fiscally conservative. A household that is consistently paying toward the balance and interest of several credit cards has little concern with a politician that can't create a balanced budget.  However, the typical American family sitting around their dinner table does understand that an increase in income is very rarely the answer to a debt problem. By definition, a conservative understands spending reduction to be the answer to a balanced budget. The Republican party needs candidates with proven fiscal principles of balanced budgets. The litmus test should be a candidate's campaign; a candidate that can't lead a debt free campaign isn't likely to offer balanced budget once in office.

Family Focused

Many a Republican candidate has completely fumbled the ball on social topics. On social issues, the Republican party seems to have an "open mouth and insert foot" philosophy. The search for the politically correct (or politically advantageous) answer to social issues has left the Republican party looking like flip-floppers that rival John Kerry's "I voted for it before I voted against it". The Republican party needs candidates that without apology will address social issues with a focus on family. Family, being defined as a married man & women with children, is the foundation of any society. It doesn't have to be laced with religious overtones; family as the foundational element of a strong society should be fostered without apology.  History has proven time and again the strong, thriving societies crumble from within long before they are defeated by an outside adversary. Once the foundational element, the family, starts to fall apart, so goes the rest of society. The Republican party needs candidates that will foster strength within the family through fiscal policies, educational policies, health policies... I'll stop the repetition there and just say all policies must promote the family. 

American Exceptional-ism

I want America to be exceptional. That is not a statement of arrogance or a "holier than thou" mentality. I want America to be exceptional so that my children will be provided with a safe and stable society within which they can grow and thrive. I want America to be exceptional in order that America can support and assist other countries in the quest to also be exceptional. You see, I recognize that in order for America to offer the best support to others, America must first be strong and secure. The Republican party needs candidates with a foreign policy that recognizes that American can provide better aid to other countries when America is thriving and prospering - America first. Sometimes we have to say "no". Aid provided to other countries at the expense of a weaker America benefits no one long term. Additionally an exceptional America has greater influence over rogue countries and radical organizations. America doesn't need to be a bully, but recognition must be given to fact that no one on the school playground picks on the big, burly kid that says "yes ma'am" and "no ma'am".  Without apology, the Republican party needs candidates that will promote and can skillfully communicate the need for American exceptional-ism.

Well, now that those are captured on "paper", I feel like I have a means by which to measure the Republican party.  By no means is this an exhaustive list of what the Republican party needs, but it is certainly a list of things the Republican party had better establish very quickly in order to keep bewildered conservatives like me on the team.

-MT

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Rob Adkerson January 10, 2013 at 10:15 PM
Well said. While I agree with most of your points here, I must say that I've been actively involved in the Bartow County Republican Party and the 11th District Republican Party for a few years working to restore the party to its platform and I can't say that I remember seeing you at a meeting or event? Correct me if I'm wrong? The party can only be as strong as its active members. The Convention process begins on February 9th at the HQ on Main Street. We need articulate, passionate people like yourself to roll up your sleeves and join us in the fight. www.BartowGOP.com
Michael Tanner January 11, 2013 at 12:58 AM
Thanks Rod for taking the time to read my post and especially for offering a comment. You are correct that I haven't been directly involved in the Republican Party to date. As stated in my post, as a person looking be get more involved, I face a dilemma - join a third party that more aligns with my conservative values but doesn't have the maturity as a party to make a real difference or get more involved with my Republican Party in hopes of influencing it back conservative principles. I have to assume that (well actually I don't have to assume, I have conversations with folks that feel the same way) other conservatives face the same decision. I trust that your comment about not seeing me at Republican Party meetings is offered in a spirit of statement of fact rather than a spirit of poking me in the eye, because not only do I believe the Republican Party needs to move back to true adherence to conservative principles; I also think that the party needs to do everything possible to avoid alienating those offering ideas and trying to decide party affiliation. -MT
Rob Adkerson January 11, 2013 at 01:40 PM
That's the danger on written word in the hands of a novice like myself, no inflection or tone. I did not mean any sarcasm or ill will, but sincerely meant to invite you to the Mass Precinct meeting to begin to get involved. We actually have a regular monthly forum on January 26th to which you could attend and hear from our new Commissioner on the state of the County and meet some of the members and leadership. I myself went through that decision process, even to the point of being involved in a nationwide movement to start a brand new third party. I found that to be a futile exercise within the context of the current systemic reality. I have since come to decide that for me at least, there's no need to invent the wheel because the Republican platform matches my principles almost exactly. There is a widespread grassroots desire and movement to restore our party and better communicate our platform and beliefs. Over several decades of absolute apathy and induced ignorance, the masses have forgotten that we are our government and our parties, not the elected officials. Bartow's Republican party you will find is staffed completely with men and women just like yourself who simply want to preserve liberty for their children and grandchildren. I encourage you to come out and see for yourself. At the very least go to the home page and sign up for the newsletter.
Rob Adkerson January 11, 2013 at 01:41 PM
Sorry, "re-invent"
Michael Tanner January 11, 2013 at 02:50 PM
Thanks again Rob for the comments. Believe me, I completely understand the delicate tight rope one walks with the written word in a public forum. As I mentioned, I took you comments to have pure intentions, so no harm & no foul. I also thank you for the invite and I do plan to attend on the 26th. -MT
CLUBFV January 11, 2013 at 03:26 PM
Michael: Very well-articulated comments. From my own perspective, I want the conservative movement, which is mostly the Repubicans right now, to focus far less on the social issues and far more on the "Time critical" issue. It is in my opinion--runaway spending without ability to pay for it. Everything else detracts from that.
Michael Tanner January 11, 2013 at 04:21 PM
Thanks for your comments CLUBFV. I can agree with you that the more immediate need is that of fiscal conservatism. In fact, that is the main reason that I mentioned it first. That said, I think all fiscal action should be taken with the family unit in mind and even fiscal action should promote the family. Social issues are very difficult to navigate in the political world and Republicans are notorious for getting trapped by them. This is why I believe the Republican Party should establish a clear policy and message that candidates should communicate in campaigns and take adhering action when in office. It is always easier to practice the message on delicate issues ahead of time before getting trapped by them when put on the spot. -MT
Alex Mason January 11, 2013 at 04:47 PM
Michael, can you elaborate on what types of policies you have in mind to promote strong families? I think everyone, liberals and conservatives alike, can see the value of strong families to our society. But how do we promote strong families, specifically? I'll be up front and let you know that on social issues, I'm quite liberal, so I anticipate that we'll have some disagreements. I do promise to be respectful of you as I realize that I don't have all the answers (and I never will). I look forward to your response.
Michael Tanner January 11, 2013 at 09:13 PM
Thanks for your comments Alex. Well no, I can't elaborate on policies for promoting strong families. That wouldn't be political speak if I did so. Political speak is the art of making vague statements that sound good without offering specifics. Since this is a politically charged post, I need to stay with the political speak and avoid specifics. Just kidding, of course. Like you, I don't have all the answers either, but I think I can offer a few suggestions here. 1) Give parents the power to choose the appropriate education for their children by allowing the parents to decide to which school their tax money is paid. 2) Serious tax reform that shifts power away from government and back into the hands of the people. Move to a national sales tax (eliminate the income tax, gains tax, corporate tax, etc.), this helps the family by promoting personal savings and budgeting while at the same time is stops punishing success. 3) Incentivize corporations and organization (religious or otherwise) offering education and training that promotes the family - education and training on family budgeting, marriage counseling, parenting skills, etc. Well, there are a few ideas. There are certainly more ways to promote family and I'm sure these could be more elaborate, but it's Friday after 4pm and I'm trying to get out of the office and home to my family. -MT
Alex Mason January 11, 2013 at 09:56 PM
Cheers, Michael. I appreciate your response! I have a couple of thoughts I'd like to share, if I may. Regarding the suggestion for schools, I have some concerns. One, I believe education is a public good. I don't think it's hard to argue that the more educated our society is, the better off we all are. This holds true for those with and those without children. An educated person is less likely to turn to a life of crime, and is more likely to become a productive contributor to our economy (I don't have any studies on hand, but I'm going to assume that most people essentially hold this as a truth). So, our goal is, therefore, to educate as many people as possible to the greatest extent possible. Because of this, I have no problem with the idea that my tax dollars are going towards the education of other peoples children - even people who pay very little in taxes. I see it as an investment in our society. I anticipate that I will not claim the exemption that is allowable in our county for those 65 and over (I'm pretty far off from having to make that decision). The bottom line for me: I don't pay school taxes solely for MY children, I pay them for OUR children. Continued below...
Alex Mason January 11, 2013 at 09:56 PM
As far as allowing families to choose which schools receive their tax dollars, I fear that it would result in further segregation and divestment from poorer community schools. I assume your vision includes allowing parents to choose which school their child attends (perhaps within the county that they pay taxes). Do buses collect children from all over the county, or are parents responsible for transportation if they select a school that is outside of their default district? For many low-income families, this is a serious barrier preventing them from changing schools. Those with more income are more likely to have the means to make sure their child gets to school on the opposite end of the county. Meanwhile, less tax revenue (not proportional to the number of lost students, proportional to the lost taxes of the wealthiest students) results in lower quality education for those stuck in the abandoned school. Obviously, if this occurs, it does not further our goal of educating as many people as possible to the maximum extent possible. Continued below...
Alex Mason January 11, 2013 at 09:56 PM
I understand people wanting the best for their children. I certainly do for mine. I may even end up sending my kids to private school (though I attended public school). However, I will never feel that it is not to my benefit to help promote the education of others. Are there other ways to hold under performing schools accountable when they are not meeting the needs of the students? A way that doesn't have negative consequences for the low-income children who are already at a disadvantage? Running out of time here, so I'll try to write more later, specifically with regards to the other two examples you gave. Again, I appreciate your willingness to have the conversation. Sincerely, Alex P.S. Enjoy your family time!
Michael Tanner January 11, 2013 at 11:45 PM
For those with school age children - they should be able to choose the school to which they want and their tax money should follow that student to the school of attendance. For those that don't have school age children - they still have to pay the taxes, but the also should be free to choose the school to receive their tax dollars. Suppose a retired couple lives in a school district that has woefully inadequate or even corrupt schools. Their tax money would be better spend in another school.
Michael Tanner January 11, 2013 at 11:51 PM
Two things... 1) An idea or solution should never be rejected because forethought can not prove to benefit everyone. I believe school choice will benefit more students than it harms, thus I support it for that reason. Additionally I believe that parents know better than the government what is best for their children. 2) I don't subscribe to the notion that parents that truly want their child to attend the school across the county will allow something like transportation from stopping them from doing what they believe to be what is best for their child. For more on this you are welcome to read a blog post I wrote on the topic - http://ramblingtanner.wordpress.com/2012/11/09/when-will-america-stop-bowing-at-the-altar-of-cant/ -MT
Michael Tanner January 11, 2013 at 11:57 PM
The government is one of the most under performing entities that exist. This isn't unique to the US government, world history is replete with examples of under performing governments. This is why conservatives believe in a small and limited government, because the larger the government gets the more it under performs. That said, the government will never be able to hold under performing schools accountable. Parents wanting the best for their children will hold the under performing school accountable by removing their children from that school. -MT
Alex Mason January 14, 2013 at 02:07 PM
Michael, I'll check out your other article when I have some more time later. I understand you having an issue with parents who aren't willing to do whatever it takes to get their children to the best possible school. The problem is, there are serious roadblocks for many of these folks. What would be easy for me or you would be a real logistical challenge for others - no car, no gas money, work conflict, disability, etc. And yes, these obstacles CAN be overcome, but the fact is that a lot of parents aren't willing to make the sacrifice to make that happen. The result is that the kid goes to the neighborhood school that is under performing and getting worse. Judge the parent all you want, but it's not going to help the poor kid. While I can appreciate the ideal of "if only everyone were more responsible and self-sufficient," I think it is unlikely to ever become reality. In the meantime, practical solutions are discarded in favor of uncompromising pursuit of utopian ideals. As far as government not holding schools accountable, do you not think the elected school board has any role in holding schools accountable? Sincerely, Alex
CLUBFV January 15, 2013 at 05:10 PM
I had the benefit of a private education both at the primary and secondary level in a parochial school. Here;s something that glares at me like a klieg light. Our buildings were old, but kept in reasonably good repair. The limited resources that we had were targeted directly at classroom instruction. Somehow, parents have gotten the idea that beautiful (and expensive) new buildings equate to good education. Perhaps less emphasis needs to be on these very expensive new buildings while we take those dollars and put them directly where the rubber meets the road.
Rob Adkerson January 15, 2013 at 11:25 PM
ClubFV, I could not agree more. We should not cut one hour, one penny and certainly not one teacher from any classroom until every other employee and every other part of the building is gone. The curriculum is over complicated and so is the budget. Much simpler school formats put men on the moon.
Alex Mason January 16, 2013 at 02:03 PM
Rob and CLUBFV, I agree that spending should be focused in the classroom. However, I don't necessarily agree that the curriculum is over complicated. Yes, the old format put men on the moon, but the new format put a robot on Mars! My point is that we don't need to go back in time to do great things - we're doing great things today.
Michael Tanner January 24, 2013 at 03:27 AM
Hi Alex. My apologies for such a delayed response, work schedule hasn't allowed me spare time. I think you have misunderstood my thoughts on parents that have difficulty with providing an unconventional education for their children. I don't offer my thoughts on the subject with any judgmental sentiment what so ever. That said, I have no fear of challenging said parents to do better, to go above and beyond, for the betterment of their children's education. I find it ironic that you mentioned the obstacles faced by some parents, acknowledge they CAN be overcame, and finish with some are just not willing to make the sacrifice. I have a problem with discarding a solution because it will not accommodate those not willing to make the sacrifice. According to your argument, the only students that wouldn't benefit from school choice would be those students that were not taken to the better schools by their parents - parents not willing to make the sacrifice. That said, I must mention that I don't agree with the notion that under performing schools will get worse if students transfer out of the school. It is common sense that a smaller organization is easier to manage/lead, thus the leadership would improve as the student population goes down. Additionally, if funds are directed appropriately the teacher to student ratio would increase thereby improving the education. Lastly let me say school choice does not represent my Utopian ideal - in my utopia parents would home school. -MT
Michael Tanner January 24, 2013 at 03:38 AM
ClubFV & Rob, I likewise agree. We have 3 children attending a hybrid school (home school & private school). They attend school 2 days each week. The school facility is an old gymnasium with classrooms extending on each side. These very small classrooms are crammed with students 4 days each week. The classrooms are certainly inhabitable, but nothing up to the standard to most government schools. However, due to the leadership, passion of the teachers, and lack of government bureaucracy the children are receiving an education that far exceeds the education they received while enrolled in government schools. -MT
Alex Mason January 24, 2013 at 01:54 PM
No problem on the delay, Michael. It's nice to have these types of conversations, but they definitely take a back seat to family and work. First, I sincerely apologize if I came across as judging you in my previous post. I am passionate about these things, and sometimes I am guilty of stereotyping folks and I think I may have done that a little bit with you. When I said "judge them all you want" in reference to the parents, I say that because I believe most conservatives look down upon people who receive welfare-type government benefits. My point was that while they may be worthy of scorn, their children are the ones who pay for their mistakes and they are still innocent. I too have no problem challenging parents to do better - I just think we need to be prepared for their possible failures that leave the child vulnerable. I don't think my comment about parents not willing to make a sacrifice was ironic. I think it makes perfect sense. They face challenges and for whatever reason, they choose not to overcome them (in fairness, in some cases we are talking about major sacrifices). Yes, it is a choice. Yes, it is often a failure. Again, my point is that the children are the ones who are victims when the parent fails. I'm not worried about accommodating the parents so much as accommodating the kids. I have a problem with hurting children because of the failures of their parents. Cont...
Alex Mason January 24, 2013 at 02:03 PM
Cont... As for the school that shrinks, I understand your philosophy, and there is probably some truth to the idea that less students means easier to manage. However, I think you may be underestimating the effect of "bright flight". While teachers play a major role in our academic development, peers play a major role as well. The young students would be exposed to fewer "model" students, and you would have a higher concentration of low-income (and all of it's associated baggage) students. I'm sorry I don't have more time to properly flesh this out, but I think it is a valid concern. When I referred to utopian ideals, I was referring to the idea that all parents would make the right decision for their children. It is not going to happen. I believe we can improve the situation by doing what we can to help all children so that one day they will be good parents to their children. I believe blaming parents for failures may be justifiable, but it doesn't help the children. Sincerely, Alex

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