Earlier this year, I wrote that the GOP needs a new product line. You can read it here. I mentioned that nationally we're selling ugly cars that run poorly, if at all. But that is only half a thought.
It's easy to sit and knock a party or candidates for not being more specific. We've institutionally conditioned our candidates to make few, if any, specific proposals. But if we want to start winning elections consistently, we need more people suggesting issues we as Republicans and more importantly, voters, should embrace whole-heartedly.
To preface, our candidates and political leaders have gotten out of the habit of doing much else but continually criticizing President Barack Obama or his policies. Don't get me wrong: both have earned more than their fair helping of scorn.
With the past two weeks' worth of scandals, this is the knee-jerk reaction of Beltway Republicans. It's easy to score points screaming at the (now departed) director of the IRS. No one, of any political stripe, likes them anyway.
We sell the GOP and its candidates short by making everything a referendum on Obama. When we make all our fights and efforts about being the anti-president, we devalue our principles. Indeed, if the only thing to do is stop him, it really doesn't matter what a Republican candidate believes in or who they are as individuals.
And we can do that anyway — nothing is getting through the GOP-held House of Representatives that they don't agree with.
When voters look at their options they see two sets of shelves. On our side, there are big flashy signs warning the shopper to stay away from the competition. But there's nothing behind the cardboard except for a few old cans not enough people want to buy.
Across the aisle we see the Obama-brand offerings. They too share many old qualities and those that haven't expired will soon. Some of the products should have been recalled but he's offering little in the way of new ideas.
To make true gains in the upcoming mid-term elections we will need more than "Repeal Obamacare" rhetoric. We will need more than the anger and manpower of the Tea Party movement, newly revitalized by IRS intrusion.
Going to a convention of any kind this year and talking about defending freedom and the Second Amendment isn't enough. If we're going to be for freedom, we need to agree it's for all — regardless of disagreements between groups.
With the White House and Democrats on defense, the GOP is well positioned to take advantage of a vacuum in the substantive policy space. We should suggest new policies — proactive policies that will make government better and life better for Americans.
If this month has shown us anything, it is that we must desperately revamp the tax code, if for no other reason than to keep nosy bureaucrats in Cincinnati from snooping on our family and friends. Republicans in the House and Senate nationally should call for a major simplification of the tax code. It's harder for IRS agents to pick on us if there are less of them.
Additionally, rather than walking around looking to wrap the Department of Education in detonator cord, we should do something about the dozens of conflicting and expensive regulations that tie local school districts up in knots. Our public education system is sinking like a stone in terms of quality and it will within a generation have a real affect on our economy and citizens' quality of life.
And the GOP might need its own "Sista Souljah" moment. It may be Wall Street, or the social conservative wing of the party, or anyone who pushes us into classically un-Republican and unpopular corners. At some point we must stand up to someone — not just the President. Everyone knows we disagree with him.
If we're truly against crony capitalism, why don't we suggest doing something about it? Pick an industry (any one will do, they'll all be upset) and take them to task for living off the government teat for too long or shutting down the very free markets we extoll as a virtue of the American way of life.
These are issues that will cause no small amount of heartburn but they will not only help redefine Republicans as being on the side of individual citizens, they will tie Democrats in knots. Republicans aren't the barrier to tax, education, or regulatory reform – the donkeys are. Why don't we give them something to wrestle with next year?
Let's be for something, not just against Obama. Anyone can do that. Let's elect members of our party to go to Washington and be more than "no" voters or pass bills that have no hope of becoming law. We just might win elections and improve things while we're at it.