Glawe: Policy changes can revive GOP


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The Republican party holds to specific ideals and beliefs, such as religious agendas and lower taxes across the board, that will eventually contribute to the collapse of the party if they do not find a better way to accomplish their goals, Daily columnist Michael Glawe writes.

Michael Glawe

Last week, I promised I would deliver a list of comprehensive policy reforms that could be adopted by the Republican Party in order to breathe life into their political credibility. In this column, I detail my suggestions.

It must be prefaced, however, that the survival of these measures is entirely contingent upon the courage of “normal” Republicans to break free from the chains placed upon them by the extremist fringe groups that carried the party through the 2010 midterm elections.

Distancing themselves from the Tea Party and fundamentalist factions (who quite regularly foment mass hysteria and racial anxiety — techniques used by Robert Welch and W. Cleon Skousen) should be the salient objective of centrist Republicans looking to take back the GOP.

(As a foreword, I apologize if I don’t delve into the complexities of some of these issues).

The first issue that the Republican Party should rethink is abortion. The “pro-life movement,” I believe, can stand by itself without the edification of religion (allow the humanists to take up the fight!). Medical research has shown that the point of viability is shifting (down to 20 weeks). Though less than one percent of all abortions occur after 20 weeks, research in embryology has strengthened the case for the concept of “unborn child.”

There is room for Republicans to argue that we as a society have the responsibility, both ethically and morally, to consider the “unborn child,” at the point of its possible survival outside the womb, a real human candidate. But, as Christopher Hitchens notes in his book “God Is Not Great,” religious opposition to contraceptives could severely degrade arguments against abortion (they are not moral equivalents).

Another policy that should be reconsidered is taxes. Since when did raising tax rates become political suicide for Republicans? Grover Norquist and his cronies can take the blame. Taxes need to be higher than where they are now, especially with an aging population (with needed deliberations on entitlement reform). As a Journal for Economic Perspectives paper suggests, the optimal tax rate on the highest income earners should be around 70 percent!

There are no rational arguments against raising taxes and the claim that the top earners are the job creators is unsubstantiated. And, as Nobel Prize winner Paul Krugman states, “I think there are a lot more important moral issues in the world than defending the right of the rich to keep their money, but whatever.”

Republicans have, however, been staunch advocates for loophole reform.

The high priority of the security of our country is good policy, but this can be achieved with less defense spending, especially wasteful defense spending. It shouldn’t be seen as unpatriotic to fix this problem, either.

Islamic extremism in the Middle East and its influence on religious fanaticism in the developed world is a real threat. Combating this extremism is a valid cause for the Republican Party, but taking that cause to supererogatory lengths makes you look like Joseph McCarthy or an Islamophobe.

Supporting economic competition is healthy, but that doesn’t mean the government should allow the market to be completely “free” (purely free markets can not and should not exist). Regulations are not used for “tyrannical” purposes, but for preserving capitalism. Bridging the gap between regulators and businessmen/women is a must.

Republicans can be debt hawks when we’ve successfully reduced unemployment. We had a chance to pay down our national debt (which we mostly owe to ourselves) during the Bush years. That time has come and passed. Responsible spending, however, is something the Republicans can always advocate for.

Keynesian economics wins over austerity. There is too much evidence suggesting that fiscal consolidation causes contraction. Data on the policies of 27 different countries during Great Depression shows us that fiscal and monetary stimulus is more effective than austerity. Republicans, stop advocating for austerity during a recession.

Also, shouldn’t conservatives be in support of environmental protection (conserving air, water, soil, etc.)? Cap and trade was, after all, birthed by the GOP, and Nixon created the EPA.

Lastly, Republicans need to stop pushing legislation that advances religious teachings (especially teachings that interfere with science). Our government is, and always has been, secular. For example, in his letter to the Danbury Baptist Association, Thomas Jefferson sought to build up a “Wall of Separation” between church and state.

In addition, most of whom we consider the “Founding Fathers” (Madison, Jefferson, Washington, Franklin, Paine, etc.) were not even “religious.” They were, more accurately, Deists, anti-Christians, pantheists and even atheists.

One cannot stress enough the intent of the first amendment (best explained in Article 11 of the Treaty of Tripoli).

These policy changes are predicated upon what I advocated for in my last column. Rational-thinking individuals must retake the reins of the GOP. If they fail, their divided house will not stand.

Michael Glawe is a junior in mathematics and economics from New Ulm, Minn.