Conservatives have had several setbacks in the last few weeks. But it is time to stop licking our wounds and prepare for the next battle. If we want to succeed in the field of partisan politics, then we must begin setting forth a battle plan. Only those who go into battle fully prepared have a chance at victory, and the recent setbacks show this. The political left has have planned and schemed for much longer and done a significantly better job than we have. Here is the best battle plan to strike fast and hard against the enemy forces.
First, as has become apparent to anyone paying attention, the judiciary is just as an important battlefield as the other branches of government. The judiciary became politicized during the 1980’s when Senator Ted Kennedy decided that instead of allowing a fully qualified legal scholar to take a place on the highest court in the land, he would stop it on purely ideological grounds. Conservatives must be willing to do the same.
There are currently 60 vacancies on the federal judiciary, and the GOP must be prepared to fill all of them at the very beginning. President Obama has 15 nominees before the Senate, and the Senate must prevent any of the nominees from taking their seats. Along with this, the RNC and GOP leadership should start working on a list of conservative lawyers and judges the newly elected president can immediately nominate for judgeships. They can work with organizations like the Federalist Society and Thomas More Law Center to create a list of the most qualified jurists possible.
Making judicial appointments will be the greatest defense of religious liberty the Republicans can have. Yes, they should pass laws protecting religious liberty, but we must also use the judiciary to our advantage so that conservative jurists can make as many rulings are possible to create a legal foundation for any case that goes to the Supreme Court. GOP leaders should also seek to find other jurists like Samuel Alito or Antonin Scalia to fill the next Supreme Court seats that will become available. If the GOP still controls the upper house, the new president can then nominate them all at once while a Republican Senate can confirm them as quickly as possible.
Second, the party must be realistic about possible policy achievements. Historically, the first 18 months of a new president’s term offers enough time for three policy victories if the president is especially astute, and then he or she can have one in the six months after the first midterm election. Carefully choosing which policy proposals to pursue will help conservative leaders effectively make the best use of this window of time.
The four most important issues that will get him or her re-elected are taxes, energy, healthcare, and student loans. I would recommend doing them in that order. A complete restructuring of the tax system will allow people to have more money and encourage economic growth, which is important for the country’s economic well-being. Rand Paul already has a solid plan on this. “A complete restructuring of the system for energy is also necessary.” Our post-industrial economy requires a significant amount of cheap energy. The president and legislature should work to encourage further domestic exploration of oil, natural gas, and coal to fuel our economic growth even more after the tax reform. Next, the president should actively seek to establish real healthcare reform that would supplant Obamacare. Again, this should help the economy and let people keep more of their money. Bobby Jindal already has a plan for this. Finally, Republicans should seek to solve the student loan crisis. There are a few different plans for this, but the important point is that this could also have far reaching benefits for the economy, help keep education available for as many people as possible, and possibly bring young people to the conservative cause by showing how the GOP can help them.
The final area that the GOP and the future president can make significant conservative inroads and that could help the country and the party is in the executive branch itself. If the president wants to eliminate many of the deleterious regulations by the Obama administration, he or she should issue an executive order along the lines of Ronald Reagan’s Executive Order 12291 and Bill Clinton’s Executive Order 12866. These orders made the OMB’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) use cost-benefit analysis to determine if regulations were good or bad. It allowed the executive to limit the power of the bureaucracy and prevent undue harm on the American economy. Although this may seem contradictory, implementing a bureaucracy to control bureaucracy, the Brookings Institution has shown that every dollar spent on anti-fraud enforcement in Medicare yields over $14 in savings. The right kind of bureaucracy can be useful. The new president should expand these efforts by putting more people into the OIRA to halt harmful regulations and to look at past regulations through the lens of cost-benefit analysis so that the president or his agency directors can remove them.
I bring up this battle plan, which is not complete but only a start, because proper and efficient governance will take months of planning and an inordinate amount of effort. The GOP, congressional leadership, and conservatives should not delay any longer if they want to bring their plans to fruition. We must act with lightning speed to achieve something in the current political climate. By planning as forcefully as possible, conservatives will have a chance to bring the country back from the abyss. We stand upon the edge of a knife, and it will take a tremendous effort turn the country around. We must start now.