We must stop being the stupid party.” It is true that when Gov. Bobby Jindal said this he was referring to Republicans like Todd Akin, whose ignorant ideas on abortion probably cost him an election last year, but antiquated and ignorant stances are not our only enemy – priorities are, too. I will now use this article attempt to adumbrate the priorities of conservatives living in America.

Our first priority should be to fix America’s $16 trillion deficit. The government is bloated and there are many cuts that can be made and even a few departments that could be abolished, namely the Department of Education and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Republicans should not be afraid to tell the Pentagon to suck it up and make some cuts, either. Getting our spending in order is a top priority.

Ensuring that taxes are fair and not harmful to the economy is just as important as cutting down on spending, though. Exhibit A is France, hands down. Actor Gerard Depardieu, who has given the French government nearly $200 million in his lifetime, recently renounced his French citizenship and moved to Belgium after France’s socialist regime imposed a 75 percent tax on the wealthy. Depardieu justified his actions even further by explaining that he felt the socialist government in France acted as if “success, creation, talent — difference, in fact — must be punished.” After France’s socialist Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault called his flight unpatriotic, Depardieu responded that “he rejected the notion that patriotism would require him to submit to whatever fiscal regime the government might cook up.” California would do well to learn from France’s mistake.

Ever since Gov. Jerry Brown’s Proposition 30, a tax increase, was voted into law last November, businesses have been fleeing California. ResMed and Fallbrook Technologies, San Diego companies that employ hundreds of employees are now leaving for Texas, which has lighter taxes on businesses and a zero percent income tax; California has a 13.3 percent income tax.

It is evident that we shouldn’t be focusing on anything else, whether it be immigration, abortion, or gay marriage, until the economy is back on track. After all, what good is it if abortion and gay marriage are prohibited if our economy looks like Greece’s economy?

Nearly as important as stabilizing the economy is ensuring our right to self-defense. Enacting Stand Your Ground laws in more states and protecting our right to bear arms are both more important than quibbling over amnesty for illegal immigrants.

Furthermore, Republicans need to do their best to craft legislation that keeps society safe from criminal elements. Liberal lawmakers want to release criminals early, possibly thinking that they can rehabilitate them, but oftentimes that doesn’t work. Republicans need to make sure that criminals stay locked up behind bars and that the vilest offenders are executed.

War on Women Abortion is always a hot topic, and for good reason – terminating a life is, with a few exceptions, wrong. However, restricting or banning abortion should not be a top priority; I would say it is more mid-range. How Republicans go about it is also important, though. We, as a party, can certainly do without stupid statements concerning rape, but we can also start laying the blame where it should be. Yes, women oftentimes act irresponsibly and get abortions to fix their mistakes, but if my mother had aborted me, I feel that my dad would’ve been more to blame. Why, because he abandoned her and evaded authorities to avoid paying child support. Instead of banning abortions, maybe the government should crack down on people like my father, so that women don’t feel the need to abort their children. Also, in order to show we actually do care about women and to lower abortion rates, Republican legislators may want to enact laws in the 31 states that currently lack laws that bar rapists from seeking the custody of their children. If women are going to be stuck interacting with their rapists for the next 18 years, they may be more likely to get an abortion. To make it simple, Republicans should try to appear less “outdated and insensitive” when it comes to issues concerning women.

When it comes to immigration reform, Republicans have to be smart enough to use President Obama’s shortcomings against him. During his first term, the United States deported more illegal immigrants than ever before. We need to show immigrant populations, especially Hispanic populations, that we value their contributions and understand their plight. This means that we have to avoid using stupid phrases like “anchor babies” and “Send them all back,” as those will offend potential supporters.

Signing the newest immigration bill, which would legalize most of the country’s 11 million illegal immigrants, would be both a strategic decision and the right thing to do for Republican lawmakers. Marco Rubio has told Obama that we have to secure our borders before Republicans agree to any other immigration reforms, but that if agrees to that, offering illegal immigrants to citizenship is not a problem. Rubio seems like a smart leader, which is what we need.

Gay marriage should be the least of our concerns. Are states that allow gay marriage any worse off because of it? No. Are gays hurting you? No. Are gays hurting the economy? No. If allowing gay marriage isn’t going to hurt anyone, then I don’t understand why we focus so heavily on it. If gays are willing to contribute something of value to society, pay taxes, and follow the laws of the land, then I say we let them do as they please, as long as they leave us alone. In other words, we give the Democrats their victory in return for cooperating with us on more important issues.

The way I see it, government has two jobs – to protect us from assailants, both foreign and abroad, and to do its best to not interfere with the economy. Yes, immigration and abortion and other issues must also be addressed, but they are not nearly as important right now, for the government has detoured from its proper course and is pretty much lost. Until we fix the economy and ensure that we are protected, other issues need to wait. We have to be a smart party and prioritize, or, as I like to say, pick our battles.

Adam Ondo | University of Rochester | @JoplinMaverick