To the Republican Party: congratulations! You blew it. You had a wide-open slam dunk and you completely missed the hoop.
Our adversary was a clearly vulnerable incumbent president — especially due to the lull in economic recovery.
This was our election to win. And yet, we let it slip from our grasp.
Twelve years of fiscal liberalism, hawkish foreign policy and nanny-state domestic policy should have convinced the electorate that we needed a real change of political philosophy. And yet, the Republican Party fielded a candidate that was really not distinguishable from Barack Obama, save for an anachronistic social policy.
The election has been over for about a month, so I think I’ve had some time to step back, breathe a little and reflect upon its outcome. I have a couple of proposals about how the Republican Party stance needs to change before 2016.
First, I’m confident that fiscal conservatism paves the road to prosperity. History seems to be on our side: from the rapid devaluation of Continentals to Harding’s escape from recession to FDR’s failed New Deal to the recent financial crisis, we have seen the necessity for fiscal discipline.
Mitt Romney, however, did not seem to understand fiscal conservatism. Proposing cuts on the order of several hundred million dollars to arts education funding is pedantic. The cuts amounted to a minute reduction in deficit, and moreover would have been nullified by Romney’s massive proposed increases in defense spending.
With that in mind, come 2016 the Republican Party needs to return to true fiscal conservatism. The welfare and unemployment systems need a complete overhaul so that they encourage their recipients to find work, not stay on the dole. We must enact a gradual process to wean ourselves off of the Ponzi scheme that is Social Security.
The Republican Party also needs to rework its non-fiscal platform. The fact that Romney’s campaign was so adamant about keeping gay marriage illegal was completely astounding to me. We are driving away moderate voters. These voters recognize that the Democratic Party still clings to Keynesianism but are scared to vote for a candidate who views LGBT citizens as inferior.
The same can be said about immigration policy. Immigrants commit crimes at lower rates than American citizens. Immigrants often take jobs that greatly benefit the economy. It absolutely baffles me how hard our country makes it for well-intentioned individuals to become Americans — and our politicians want to make it even harder. Hispanics are a group that traditionally falls in line with conservative values, but as Marco Rubio put it, “It’s really hard to get people to listen to you on economic growth, on tax rates, on health care, if they think you want to deport their grandmother.”
We should not have to choose between sensible fiscal policy and sensible social policy. We can have both. There are potential Republican candidates that can bring this to us in 2016 — this group probably excludes candidates like Rick Santorum and Romney, who do not seem to bring either.
Part of the responsibility to move the party forward comes from us. To my fellow conservative brethren at Penn: do more. I know that despite being a minority, we are a very large minority. However, almost all of the political activism on campus comes from Penn Democrats. Given that Penn students have extremely bright futures in politics, there is no better place to enact change than right here.
Penn Democrats affects students on campus and the community at large. They hold voter drives, perform door-to-door canvassing and hold phone banks to inform people of their political views. The group engages in activism to influence the composition of government at all levels. This is something that Penn’s conservative students do not do.
However, it is our duty to educate our peers in a respectful manner about the benefits of fiscal conservatism with moderate and reasonable social policy. It is up to us to voice our concerns about the party’s current state and by doing so, we — who represent the next generation of politics in America — can enact a shift in political philosophy.
We are going to influence our country after we graduate from Penn — it’s up to us to ensure that we put it on the right path.
Max Scheiber is an Engineering and Wharton sophomore from Boca Raton, Fla. His email address is email@example.com. Follow him @MaxScheiber. “Maximal Freedom” appears every other Monday.