Republicans should set positive agenda

October 31, 2010


The great “what-if” looks like it is about to happen. With all of the media attention focused on Tuesday’s midterm election, Republicans are faced with a greater task than winning a majority in the House of Representatives or getting at least close enough to a majority that they will be able to halt or slow the Obama agenda.

And come Wednesday, Republicans could either suffer the political equivalent of a morning-after hangover or find themselves in a position to do more than just say “no” to the administration’s policies.

Reversing or cutting funding for some agenda items like mandated health insurance and extending the Bush-era tax cuts aside, Republicans are more likely to earn long-term voter approval if in addition to opposing Obama’s policies they also have a positive agenda.

For decades, Democrats have owned the “victim” vote, portraying themselves on the side of the weak and the oppressed. Republicans should accept that as a challenge and begin to empower, not indulge, the poor and commit to the liberation of those who want to be set free of programs that too often enslave them.

Republicans should begin with school choice. Every poor person in every city should be able to withdraw his or her children from failing public schools and place them either in charter or private schools with taxpayer money. More than any welfare program, school choice will free a generation of youngsters from repeating the cycle of poverty. Republicans should re-authorize the D.C. Scholarship Fund, which Democrats allowed to die, despite its popularity and success.

Republicans should put every government agency and program up for examination and work to eliminate the ones that do not meet standards of necessity and cost-effectiveness. Those that meet the necessity standard, but are not cost-effective, should be outsourced to the private sector to see if it can do a better job at less cost.

America used to be a nation that celebrated inventors and the inventive. Today we penalize the productive and subsidize the nonproductive and get more of what we don’t need and less of what we require.

The key for Republicans is to not allow Democrats and their big media allies to set the table. Too often the standard has been to highlight what Democrats propose and what Republicans oppose. That template needs to change. Republicans, if they are smart (and this will require some proof) must seize the agenda and demonstrate how and why their ideas are superior to the Democrats’ entitlement and spread-the-wealth-around philosophy.

They can do this by going after the Democrats’ base, starting with African Americans. Republicans should introduce themselves to African Americans, listen to them explain their hopes and aspirations and then help them achieve those hopes and dreams by employing Republican principles. Former Speaker Newt Gingrich says the election is about food stamps vs. paychecks. Republicans can show the poor how to get off the former and start earning the latter.

Playing against “type” will disarm Democrats and critics in the media. What are they going to say, “You can’t help poor African Americans because we would rather they remain poor”?

Newly elected members of Congress should bring their own staffs to Washington instead of the usual practice of employing existing staff. If Washington is to be changed, the insiders who keep change from happening must go.

The Republican Party must also change. The coming GOP success is not a victory of party, but of philosophy. It is the tea party movement that is making it possible for Republicans to regain power. If party leaders in and out of Congress try to quell passions and put out the fire that is burning in so many bellies, they will deservedly lose everything in 2012.

If the Republican Party stokes those flames and adopts a positive and workable strategy, not just to dismantle the Obama agenda, but to establish a new one of smaller, more effective and less costly government, accompanied by a commitment to personal responsibility and accountability, this election wave will become a tsunami two Novembers from now.

— Cal Thomas is a columnist for Tribune Media Services.


gl0ck0wn3r 3 years, 5 months ago

Asperger syndrome or Asperger's syndrome (English pronunciation: /æspɜrɡɜrz/) is an autism spectrum disorder that is characterized by significant difficulties in social interaction, along with restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior and interests. It differs from other autism spectrum disorders by its relative preservation of linguistic and cognitive development. Although not required for diagnosis, physical clumsiness and atypical use of language are frequently reported.[1][2]

Asperger syndrome is named after the Austrian pediatrician Hans Asperger who, in 1944, described children in his practice who lacked nonverbal communication skills, demonstrated limited empathy with their peers, and were physically clumsy.[3] Fifty years later, it was standardized as a diagnosis, but many questions remain about aspects of the disorder.[4] For example, there is doubt about whether it is distinct from high-functioning autism (HFA);[5] partly because of this, its prevalence is not firmly established.[1] It has been proposed that the diagnosis of Asperger's be eliminated, to be replaced by a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder on a severity scale.[6]

The exact cause is unknown, although research supports the likelihood of a genetic basis; brain imaging techniques have not identified a clear common pathology.[1] There is no single treatment, and the effectiveness of particular interventions is supported by only limited data.[1] Intervention is aimed at improving symptoms and function. The mainstay of management is behavioral therapy, focusing on specific deficits to address poor communication skills, obsessive or repetitive routines, and physical clumsiness.[7] Most individuals improve over time, but difficulties with communication, social adjustment and independent living can exist and continue into adulthood.[4] Some researchers and people with Asperger's have advocated a shift in attitudes toward the view that it is a difference, rather than a disability that must be treated or cured.[8]

A pervasive developmental disorder, Asperger syndrome is distinguished by a pattern of symptoms rather than a single symptom. It is characterized by qualitative impairment in social interaction, by stereotyped and restricted patterns of behavior, activities and interests, and by no clinically significant delay in cognitive development or general delay in language.[19] Intense preoccupation with a narrow subject, one-sided verbosity, restricted prosody, and physical clumsiness are typical of the condition, but are not required for diagnosis.[5]

Unlike those with autism, people with AS are not usually withdrawn around others; they approach others, even if awkwardly. For example, a person with AS may engage in a one-sided, long-winded speech about a favorite topic, while misunderstanding or not recognizing the listener's feelings or reactions, such as a need for privacy or haste to leave.[5] This social awkwardness has been called "active but odd".[1]


Richard Heckler 3 years, 5 months ago

Since 1980 the repubs have never offered a positive agenda. The party invades oil rich nations consistently and takes out financial institutions consistently among other things.

Reagan/Bush Illegal Sale of Weapons aka Iran Contra and Richard Nixon wiretapping democratic headquarters aka Watergate

Financial disasters are all documented:

  1. The Reagan/ Bush Savings and Loan Heist( millions out of work) "There are several ways in which the Bush family plays into the Savings and Loan scandal, which involves not only many members of the Bush family but also many other politicians that are still in office and were part of the Bush Jr. administration.

Jeb Bush, George Bush Sr., and his son Neil Bush have all been implicated in the Savings and Loan Scandal, which cost American tax payers over $1.4 TRILLION dollars (note that this was about one quarter of our national debt").

The Reagan/Bush savings and loan heist was considered the largest theft in history at the time. George Herbert Walker Bush then took $1.4 trillion of taxpayers money to cover the theft.

  1. The Bush/Cheney Wall Street Bank Fraud on Consumers(millions out of work) Yes, substantial fraud was involved. For example, mortgage companies and banks used deceit to get people to take on mortgages when there was no possibility that the borrowers would be able to meet the payments. Not only was this fraud, but this fraud depended on government authorities(Bush admin) ignoring their regulatory responsibilities."

  2. Only 3 major Financial Institutions were at risk in spite of what we’re told ? "There were just a handful of institutions that were terribly weakened. AIG the insurer, Bank of America and Citigroup, Those three were clearly in very weakened form. Many of the other big banks simply were not.

  3. Talk of Privatizing Social Security Would Place the Nations Economy at Risk "Social Security privatization will raise the size of the government's deficit to nearly $700 billion per year for the next 20 years, almost tripling the size of the national debt.

Put simply, moving to a system of private accounts would not only put retirement income at risk--it would likely put the entire economy at risk."

  1. Still A Bad Idea – Bush Tax Cuts - (DO NOT create Jobs)

The ENTITLEMENT program for the wealthy at the expense of the middle class = tax increases for the middleclass.


mbulicz 3 years, 5 months ago

Republicans have just as much responsibility to set a positive agenda as the democrats. It's easy to point fingers but remember that it takes both parties to make a solution.


jayhawklawrence 3 years, 5 months ago

I thought his headline was a joke at first and then I remembered that Cal has a serious disconnect with reality.

Mice with human brains...

Do you think Christine O'Donnell has any documentation on this phenomenon? How about humans with mouse brains?


Orwell 3 years, 5 months ago

When the Kansas legislature appropriates the extra gazilions needed to expand charter schools enough to educate a large share of our young we'll know it's serious. If you propose to close down public education, say so – then we can talk about (a) how much of a tax/spending increase it will take, or (b) how much you think we should cut from public schools (which will still have to educate a majority of our children).


Centerville 3 years, 5 months ago

When the Kansas legislature pulls charter schools out of the maw of the KNEA, we'll know it's serious about positive solutions.


yourworstnightmare 3 years, 5 months ago

I generally agree with what Cal is saying. Republicans will need to offer up their version of solutions to the country's problems and have them debated and voted on.

School choice is a good start. I also like the idea of efficiency reviews of all government agencies. This would have to include the sacred cows of medicare and defense and pentagon to be successful.

I also agree that a GOP message could be appealing to african americans. Too bad so many in the GOP say and do so many racist things so that no black person in their right mind would vote for that party.

I am afraid that you will have to dream on, Cal. The outline you propose is sensible and smart, two things the modern GOP most certainly are not.


Mike Ford 3 years, 5 months ago

dumblicans pushing a positive agenda..really??? how do you get Darth Vader to smile and be nice...really....


CorkyHundley 3 years, 5 months ago

Like the Repubs can battle the ills of the Dopamine 4 receptor victims. They are so friendly yet dastardly, economically impotent in large groups. So much so, they cannot care for themselves without the money of others. President Dude has them right where he has them. And the Repubs can only make like they can help.


TinkyWinky 3 years, 5 months ago

Eh oh Tom, Good post, I believe you're right. Something that may also happen is Potentate Obama not familiar with being told "no" will move to harass or even detain some republicans. He may abuse his powers through the DOJ and Holder to silence opposition. It is a very scary time in America having someone in office so close to creating a dictatorship.


Flap Doodle 3 years, 5 months ago

"Mongol General: Hao! Dai ye! We won again! This is good, but what is best in life? Mongol: The open steppe, fleet horse, falcons at your wrist, and the wind in your hair. Mongol General: Wrong! Conan! What is best in life? Conan: To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women."


Tom Shewmon 3 years, 5 months ago

Every day will be an uphill battle for Republicans. The media will not help them like they've helped The Anointed One and Democrats. The Democrats will not be called obstructionists like Republicans have been the past 2-4 years, but will do anything possible to derail common sense Republican legislation. The Anointed One's hatred will blossom into something like never witnessed before. Remember, he expressly does NOT like being told "no". He will probably break veto records. He will not be re-elected, nor will he win gthe primary, IMHO. The Democrats will be painted as oppressed. The Anointed One will garner what sympathy and assistance available by the incompetent and willfully dishonest liberal establishment media. Although the message about to be sent is a very good one, don't become to giddy my conservative brethren. This is going to get nastier than what you can fathom. It may take a full-blown revolution to snuff the advance of progressivists evil.

May a god who was a referree (no instant review) in a former life, bless.


beatrice 3 years, 5 months ago

Yes, they should set a positive agenda. They won't, but they should.


cowboy 3 years, 5 months ago

There is currently no republican member of either house in a leadership position that is not completely bought off by big oil , insurance industry , the Koch brothers , or the Chamber. The possibility that any positive agenda for the people would grow from this leader group is nil. The party has whored itself out so completely that it cannot lead. It's only option is to say no as they have no ideas.

In addition with the behavior of the Republican leaders / obstructors over the past two years do you really think that they can get anything thru congress or past the presidential veto. The country will remain at a standstill for the next two years with great bluster and political theatre.


cato_the_elder 3 years, 5 months ago

Pretty weak response, Bozo. Check out Obama's recent hateful remarks on Univision, directed toward Hispanic-Americans.


cato_the_elder 3 years, 5 months ago

Which is why, Bozo, Obama's own bigotry (e.g., "those who cling to their guns and religion") and fearmongering (e.g., his recent references to "the enemy"), and the fact that he's been in bed with Wall Street from the git-go, will cause a whole lotta folks to vote on Tuesday.


just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 5 months ago

"Republicans are more likely to earn long-term voter approval if in addition to opposing Obama’s policies they also have a positive agenda."

Duh!! But bigotry, fearmongering and full-out fealty to corporate wealth and power can never be turned into a positive agenda for the majority of Americans.


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