It seems like yesterday that I was in Parkersburg, West Virginia. A bunch of friends from the University of Charleston had driven a few hours to hear President Ronald Reagan speak. This was the fall of 1984 and Reagan was our guy and we knew the Republican Party was where we wanted to be. The GOP was the Party of big ideas, less government interference and fighting Communism at every turn. Most important to me was the fact that Reagan made me feel like no matter what problems we confronted Americans always had the ability, with a smile on our face, to make tomorrow better. We were the Country that welcomed those fleeing Cuba. We were the home of freedom. The place that welcomed those who wanted a better life.
On Friday, January 18 I turned 50. Waving at President and Mrs. Reagan as their motorcade flew by seems like a lifetime ago. Knowing what my Party stands for has become a daily internal search. Communism has fallen, yet evil still very much remains. Now they are in the form of religious terrorists who move from land to land with no home or Country. In a Country of over 300 million, we are the home to approximately 15 million illegal aliens. Many who came seeking the same opportunity given my family many years ago. We are a Country where law abiding legal gun owners are under siege because of a few mentality deranged individuals who have used guns to cause unbearable grief to moms, dads, sons and daughters. Yet, we have political leaders who don’t have the courage to lock up citizens with illegal firearms. The same individuals who shoot neighbors and rob local grocery stores in big cities across America each day.
My Party of freedom has been divided about granting gay Americans the same rights as heterosexual men and women. Republicans are divided on the issue of abortion. Each day I’m torn between my belief that life begins at conception and my ultimate idea that I should not tell a college student that a mistake or accident after a frat party should change her life forever. More importantly, should anyone but her and her family make that ultimate decision? My GOP contradicts itself on social and economic issues. Keep government out of the free economic market but make sure it’s in my personal life.
A couple of solid principles the GOP should use to rebuild for the future. Ideas that don’t change our core values.
1) The Federal government should not spend more than it takes in. We need government officials to act like they are spending their own cash, not ours. Cuts need to be across the board. We can’t say no more Big Bird but yes to everything the Department of Defense wants. Reform entitlements. Warren Buffet doesn’t need Medicare. He certainly doesn’t need the same type of assistance provided to the poor. People are living much longer, we must raise the age on Social Security benefits. The GOP is right on these points. Fight for these reforms.
2) Follow the common sense proposals of Sen. Marco Rubio and take the lead on immigration reform. If a young man is good enough to work on my lawn or fix my plumbing or harvest my farm, then we owe it to all of us to give him or her the path to citizenship. Why, when so many of us are children of immigrants would we act and talk like Mexicans or others don’t deserve a chance? We certainly aren’t flying or driving them home.
3) We talk like we are a big tent, then act like we don’t want everyone in our big tent. Accept the fact that we have supporters of gay marriage, pro- life, pro-choice supporters. Regardless of your social leanings can we stop trying to shove personal views down everyone’s throats? Please keep your comments regarding rape and the way a women’s body deals with the result of such a pregnancy to yourself. Express your point of view and move on. For 99% of us no one is changing our views and gay marriage or life. Why make it a litmus test? Why make others who agree with us on so many other issues feel like we can’t tolerate their views?
4) Promote Senator’s Tim Scott and Marco Rubio, Governor Susana Martinez, Condi Rice. The fact that we have so few people of color is our fault. The truth is African Americans have suffered for a generation by blindly supporting the Democratic Party. Hispanics have supported Reagan and Bush 43. We need to open our arms and say, “come in, we want to hear your ideas on how we can make America better”. Truly do daily outreach, not just come election time!
If the Grand Old Party doesn’t re-fit or rebuild we are doomed to extinction. The optics of who we are just as important as the message we present. Our future is in front of us as a Party. I believe we have the ideas to save the future of our Country. The question is whether or not we can meet this challenge as one Party and not a group divided by individual ideas.