Fixing the Republican Party

Ryan Neely, Reporter

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As time goes by, it seems like the libertarian influence on the Republican party is growing increasingly strong. This trend started out as a response to the presidency of Barack Obama in the fleeting, amorphous Tea Party “movement” (for those unfamiliar, think “resist”, but for Republicans). Sure, that “movement” has fizzled out, but many associated with it are still in Congress, and many others elected since then seem to share its goals. There are some Republicans in Congress who see no problem with abolishing the EPA. Another, Justin Amash, even showed concern that the creation of a national suicide prevention hotline would be a government overreach.
Once upon a time, “small government” was seen as the solution to the problems associated with the excesses of our leaders. Now, it’s a cause in and of itself. One must wonder what the Republican Party would look like if this ideology became dominant within it. Oh, but we need not imagine; the Libertarian Party already exists.
In its platform, the Libertarian Party advocates for “the repeal of the income tax, the abolishment of the Internal Revenue Service and all federal programs and services not required under the U.S. Constitution.” In addition “to the extent possible… that all public services be funded in a voluntary manner.” In the section on discrimination, it states, “Members of private organizations retain their rights to set whatever standards of association they deem appropriate, and individuals are free to respond with ostracism, boycotts, and other free-market solutions.” That’s a fancy way of saying they think that discrimination should be legal (though it does in addition state that they do not condone such acts).
A dogmatic obsession with shrinking the government can very easily lead to bizarre policy proposals like these. Libertarians sometimes wonder why they can’t seem to win any elections. Perhaps it’s because they don’t seem to be overly concerned with solving the real problems that people are facing in this country.
If Republicans follow suit, they too will see what it’s like have three percent of the vote considered a victory. Sure, Donald Trump’s populist wave (with its own merits and demerits) is dominant at the moment, but the libertarian faction within the party may regain the spotlight once he leaves office, be that in 2020 or 2024. The conservative movement is more ideological and organized than ever before. Sure, someone who holds the aforementioned extreme libertarian positions may not fare well in a Republican primary, but moderation is not looked kindly upon in any primary. Oversimplified messaging of government waste fails to recognize the government programs that do succeed, like NASA and the National Park Service.
Republicans don’t have to oppose any government action whatsoever. Ron DeSantis, governor of Florida (who, given his approval rating of 59% after a very close election, should serve as a model for others) has been a leader in promoting environmental protection. Ever since the founding of this country, it was recognized that individuals being able to violate each other’s rights was an affront to freedom. When businesses are able to pollute the environment, they violate everybody’s rights. Sure, some harm to the environment is necessary for our society to function (such as deforestation to make buildings), but if unchecked, harm to the environment can prevent our society from functioning.
Perhaps the reason that some Republicans have some trepidation about embracing environmentalism is that it often takes the form of radicalism these days. Take, for example, the much-touted Green New Deal, a nonbinding resolution which aims to completely eliminate both fossil fuels and “transition away from” nuclear energy. Oh, and it also calls for universal healthcare. Just like the most effective pieces of satire, the Green New Deal hurts the very cause it advocates for.
Republicans should not fight fire with fire. The response to radical socialist proposals is not to create equally unrealistic free-market proposals. Ideally, our political landscape would reflect the first inaugural addresses of both Ronald Reagan and John F. Kennedy. Reagan expressed skepticism of bureaucracy and over-regulation, while Kennedy shared hope for what the government could achieve. Like yin and yang, these create a balance. They keep each other in check, and they keep our country afloat.
Unfortunately, it seems like today’s debates are often not between the ideals of Ronald Reagan and John F. Kennedy, but those of Ayn Rand and Karl Marx. It should then come as no surprise that we are going nowhere so quickly. Sure, Donald Trump doesn’t subscribe to any rigid ideology, but he also isn’t very good at articulating and advocating for his beliefs. That, paired with the hysterical reaction to him by Democrats, is creating a dysfunctional government. Some Republicans think that the problem here is that Donald Trump’s message is not conservative enough. I think his message is not incisive and relevant enough.
Ideally, the future of the Republican Party will lie in people like Ron DeSantis who make compelling cases for small government without taking things too far. Congressman Dan Crenshaw has also done his part in crafting a modern vision for the party. We do not have to wait until 2024 to see leaders like these rise up. Our country is not a dictatorship. The president is not the sole face and decider of our political system. Lower-ranking Republicans can set the party and the country on a new path, but only if they can act as effective messengers for policies that ordinary Americans can emphatically embrace.