There is plenty of talk of where the Republican Party should go. Some say Republicans should veer to the left and others believe it should be more orthodox. Change is necessary; the Republicans need to change, but talking heads are missing the point.
Republicans shouldn’t change to promote grandiose agendas. Republicans should promote small and simple ideas. Republicans should not model themselves after energetic executives. This disqualifies Republican Presidents like Reagan, Nixon, George W. Bush, and pretty much anyone who believed that the president had a big role in people’s lives.
Look to no other than President Coolidge. Coolidge is one of those few politicians who reduced taxes, cut spending, and fostered rapid economic growth by minding his own business and keeping Congress in check. He delivered 50 vetoes, modeling why he is a prime example of a conservative commander-in-chief.
Coolidge is not someone who embroiled himself over politics or ideology. He didn’t believe in utopian ideas of utmost liberty like libertarians, spreading democratic ideals around the world like neoconservatives, or expanding the role of government in people’s lives through social justice like liberals. Coolidge was simplistic. He was a constitutionalist and knew that the government couldn’t solve all of our problems. That’s what America needs: a humble executive and ultimately a humble government that understands its own limitations. That undermines both parties today.
It also undermines both President Obama’s State of the Union and Senator Marco Rubio’s response. They both missed that today’s Americans are entitled Americans and they need to be told that government needs to be reduced and that government was never intended the way it is today. Both Obama and Rubio missed this huge opportunity.
Senator Rubio mentioned the role of government. Rubio said that government “cannot play its essential role when it ignores those limits.” The problem is that there were no specifics in reducing the size of government. President Reagan spoke against big government and yet the federal budget grew by 69 percent. Republicans like Rubio love to speak against government but then say that they do not want to change Medicare if it “hurts” seniors. Medicare is hurting the nation at large and should not promote the common good of a few, but the common good of all. Yes, Medicare should provide for those who need it but the American people need to understand that government spending is unsustainable and if it does not change then the government will default.
Sadly enough, most Democrats and Republicans do not live up to a humble fiscal, and foreign policy. Senator Rand Paul mentioned a change in spending. He mentioned that entitlement reform needs be on the table to reduce our deficit and our national debt with specifics. He called for a “Penny Plan” which would call for a cut in a cent of spending for every federal dollar. He also called for a drawback in our foreign policy which is a traditional Republican doctrine. Paul seems on a many regards more like a Coolidge disciple rather than a Reagan fanatic. That’s how it should be.
Republicans will rightfully change if they for once and for all espouse their principles of small government and deliver. The times demand a leader who will not spell out ambitious agendas for restraining gun violence, pursue energy independence like those on the left like to spell out, or talk about “providing some security against the risks of modern life,” fostering world peace in the world and democratic rule as many on the right do.
We need a leader who accepts the fact that government is not God and cannot be anywhere near as powerful as God. Like it or not, government cannot solve all of our problems. That to me sounds like a smarter government.
Obama is absolutely right when he called for a “smarter government,” but that does not mean bloated budgets, taxing people more and more, expanding the powers of our military through drone strikes-just to name a few. A smarter government is not one that designs the obliteration of its own people and of its own country. Both parties are the main architects in this regard and lack the leadership to address our entitled culture.
Republicans should take a deep look at themselves and embrace Coolidge. They should embrace a humble party and small ideas. That’s the path to victory.
Alex Uzarowicz | Knox College | @AUzarowicz