WASHINGTON – More than ever before, America needs an enlightened, inclusive and optimistic Republican Party. Simply stated, the old “lower taxes, less government” message is grossly inadequate. While it may be still correct, it does not appeal to millions of people who now feel excluded from the main stream.
A message for the poor
The truth is that lower taxes and sensible deregulation are extremely important; but only for those who already have a seat at the table and real stakes in the existing economy.
If you are poor mostly because you were born poor in a poor neighborhood, or because you lost your job as a victim of downsizing and outsourcing, “smaller government” means nothing to you. In fact, if “smaller government” also means fewer handouts and benefits, you have a good reason to be against it.
The real challenge for the Republican Party is to be the standard-bearer of pro-growth policies, while at the same time appealing to the millions who have been left behind and who do not have a meaningful chance to improve their circumstances without help. The Republicans have to realize that to affirm that a “rising tide lifts all boats” applies only to those who have a boat. The fact is that millions of Americans today have no boat. And if you do not have any boat, or if your old boat has leaks, the rising tide will do absolutely nothing for you.
Education, education, education
So, what kind of new message are we talking about? Not income support, although this may be vital in extreme circumstances. Real help for the poor is made out of anything that substantially increases education levels and knowledge about modern technology for children, young adults and adults who have been swept away by gigantic economic transformations that made their existing skills redundant or irrelevant.
In other words, it is all about drastically improved public education and targeted re-training programs. That said, unfortunately the national Republican Party is unable to embrace all this, (with few exceptions), let alone articulate a compelling vision of an inclusive, vibrant society in a way that most people now left out can understand, appreciate and aspire to.
Credible messengers get no traction
if we look at the unfolding presidential campaign, Donald Trump’s raw populism still dominates the debate. Second in line is Texas Senator Ted Cruz with his radical posturing and appeal to the emotions of religious conservatives. Way down the list you have the reasonable people who in various ways have articulated credible, inclusive messages showing that they understand the plight of the marginalized and that they have plans that will create real, as opposed to cosmetic, improvements. Marco Rubio, John Kasich, Jeb Bush, and Chris Christie are in this group. Three of them (Bush, Kasich and Christie) have a good record as current or former governors of important states.
Ideas do not resonate
Still, at least so far, their talk about enlightened, forward-looking and progressive inclusiveness in the context of pro-growth policies does not resonate. In part this is due to the fact that this is a message much more suitable for the general election. At that time the Republican party nominee will seek support from millions of uncommitted voters by putting forward some unorthodox ideas. In the primaries the candidates appeal to the party faithful. And in most cases the faithful do not appreciate anything new that may sound to them as political heresy.
Republican Party does not appeal
Still, be that as it may, the Republican Party can re-affirm itself as a dynamic national political force only if its programs appeal to the millions who are now excluded from the main stream. Until the poor and marginalized hear a different message that rings true, they will continue to buy the unimaginative Democratic proposals based on subsidies and handouts that provide temporary relief, while changing nothing.
This is a pity. We know how this story ends. We have seen this movie before.
Look at Europe
In Europe you can see the ill effects of well-intended but ultimately destructive welfare policies. When public aid keeps coming, no matter what, recipients are not motivated to make any efforts, this way creating a cycle of perpetual dependence.
In the meantime, self-serving bureaucracies created to administer all these programs become entrenched and unmovable. As a result of all this, public spending increases, creating larger deficits and a growing national debt. In the end, all these noble ideas end up sapping resources, creating slow-moving, unproductive economies.
Mark my words, this is the end game of any welfare state.
Hillary Clinton will be our next President
As I do not see any soul-searching within a truly unimaginative Democratic Party, the only hope is for a re-generated Republic Party to offer a constructive alternative aimed at educating all Americans, this way creating a much stronger society. Still, if the GOP agenda will be dominated by Donald Trump or Ted Cruz, we shall have Hillary Clinton as our next President.
And this means more of the same.