Tuesday, March 3, 2009

What should conservatives do now?

Conservatives have spent plenty of time and words lamenting the socialist bent of the Obama administration and the current Congress. While telling our friends and neighbors and, indeed, the nation, what is wrong with the administration’s and Congress’ policies, we need to be actively pursuing an agenda of our own.

One part of that agenda ought to be the formation of planning/study groups to formulate plans for undoing the damage the current administration and Congress do. I am tired of hearing talk show hosts say that if, for example, the current government institutes nationalized health care we will never be able to undo it. True, we won’t, if we don’t plan a strategy for undoing it. Such a strategy must address not only what laws and regulation need to be repealed, and how to protect innocent people who have come to rely on them, but also how to justify the plan to the voters.

Plans need to be made for dealing with the huge debt that government is likely to run up. Dare we simply declare a part of it null and void? I doubt it. Historically the US has been faithful about paying its debts. We will need to plan tax reductions to encourage business and innovation. It’s a historical fact that reducing taxes increases government revenue, and we will need increased revenue to pay down the debt. And we may need to plan how to approach creditors to obtain extended terms.

Should criminal or civil prosecution be brought against any of the members of the government? Probably not, except in cases of provable criminal or unethical activity, such as (possibly) the sweetheart mortgages obtained by Barney Frank and others. In any case lists of those culpable should be compiled and appropriate disciplinary measures decided on. A caution is that any disciplinary action should be for real crimes or actions not in the best interests of the nation—they should not be a vendetta.

Every action of the government needs to be studied and responded to – not with criticism, but with alternatives that involve market mechanisms and preserve freedom. Here it’s important to formulate responses in positive terms so that voters can see that we are offering solutions, not merely criticizing.

Candidates for Congress in 2010 and 2012 need to be vetted and evaluated on their positions, their records and their appeal. The same goes for Presidential candidates. Several talk show hosts have said that Republican candidates need to return to their conservative roots. True, but they also need to have appeal. While some of Ronald Reagan’s positions may no longer be relevant (I doubt this) two of his characteristics we must retain are his conservatism and his appeal. Reagan was difficult to dislike, even by those who disagreed emphatically with him. His humor and his “Aw shucks” attitude forced even his political enemies to like him. Conservatives need to be conservative and likable.

You may ask how conservatives should organize. Who do you call? A good place to start is Newt Gingrich’s organization American Solutions. (http://www.americansolutions.com/) American Solutions works by convening groups of people to think through potential solutions to the problems facing our country. Although the solutions proposed will generally please conservatives, they are presented in a common sense way that will convince independents and even a few liberals.