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. tmseditors@tribune.com


just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 6 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.

cato_the_elder 7 years, 6 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 7 years, 6 months ago

"Obama's own bigotry (e.g., "those who cling to their guns and religion")"

It was an unfortunate choice of words on his part, but primarily because it allows folks like you to spin a pretty clear picture of reality as "bigotry."

"fearmongering (e.g., his recent references to "the enemy"),"

I really don't know what you're talking about here. Can you be more specific?

"and the fact that he's been in bed with Wall Street from the git-go,"

He's certainly been Republican-lite in that regard, as well as many others. But do you really think electing Republicans to Congress is going to have Wall Street doing anything other than cheering wildly, as they count the chickens that they know will hatch from the eggs they've paid the Republicans to sit on?

beatrice 7 years, 6 months ago

The biggest problem with the "cling to their guns and religion" line is that it is true. People just can't handle the truth.

If Obama is in bed with Wall Street, as you claim, why did he sign into law a reform bill that protects consumers, which the Republicans naturally opposed? Please cato, do explain that one.

cato_the_elder 7 years, 6 months ago

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

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 6 months ago

I just looked at the transcript. He made no hateful remarks toward Hispanic-Americans.

He merely noted that if Hispanics sit out this election, then people who've declared them as enemies (including teapartiers, and you, perhaps?) will be the big winners, and they will be the losers.

Probably a poor choice of words, but accurate, nonetheless.

cato_the_elder 7 years, 6 months ago

Bozo, Obama makes one of the most bigoted statements ever made by a presidential candidate, which in your mind is merely an "unfortunate choice of words." Two years later he tells Hispanics to "punish your enemies," i.e. all Republicans, having campaigned on the promise that he wanted to "bring Americans together," a blatant lie if there ever was one.

You know what, Bozo? George W. Bush never made any statement like either of these, nor would he ever have done so. The free pass given to Obama by you and people like you on these kinds of hateful statements is blatantly hypocritical.

beatrice 7 years, 6 months ago

"You are either with us or against us." President Bush.

Those seemed pretty hateful to those who didn't agree with the wrong decision to go into Iraq.

cato_the_elder 7 years, 6 months ago

On September 20, 2001, George W. Bush said, "Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists." He was not campaigning for American votes a week before a national election by shamefully labeling other Americans as "enemies," as Obama recently did, but was essentially directing his remarks to foreign heads of state and citizens of other countries when addressing a joint session of Congress.

Hillary Clinton had said the same thing earlier, in the same context, on September 13, 2001.

Not even a nice try, Beatrice.

HaRDNoK9 7 years, 6 months ago

He was not essentially directing his remarks. He was VERY specific: "All of the World's governments have heard this message: You are either with us, or you are with the terrorists."

beatrice 7 years, 6 months ago

And that is why Hillary isn't President.

Sorry, but Bush saying Americans who weren't in lock-step with him were with the terrorists was far worst than anything Obama said.

cato_the_elder 7 years, 6 months ago

Beatrice, can you read? As I said and as was confirmed by HaRDNoK9, Bush was addressing other governments, not Americans. Look it up.

Again, not even a nice try.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 6 months ago

The right has clearly drawn the lines of "enmity," and they have entire networks (Fox, Rush, etc.) devoted to maintaining those lines, including creating the so-called Tea Party movement, and you happily play along. Most hispanics (and blacks) are clearly on the wrong side of that line, and Obama merely acknowledged that fact.

Does his acknowledgement of that fact perpetuate it? Possibly, and for that reason I think he needs to more carefully craft his message.

cato_the_elder 7 years, 6 months ago

In other words, he needs to lie even more carefully than he already does every time he opens his mouth.

cowboy 7 years, 6 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.

beatrice 7 years, 6 months ago

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

beatrice 7 years, 6 months ago

I keep reading in the press about how Republicans will win the House on Tuesday. Guess we will have an Anointed House then, according to Tom's rules of nonsense.

Flap Doodle 7 years, 6 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."

Liberty275 7 years, 6 months ago

Women lamenting is pretty cool. It's a good thing too because they do it a lot.

Now call me a misogynist.

Mike Ford 7 years, 6 months ago

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

yourworstnightmare 7 years, 6 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.

Flap Doodle 7 years, 6 months ago

nightie, why do the Democrats keep trying to get Black candidates to drop out of elections?

geekyhost 7 years, 6 months ago

School choice would be great if it would do anything but help the rich get richer and make our education system worse. Charter schools perform no better than public schools and in many cases much worse. The ones that get great results do so at a much higher cost per pupil than what we expend on public schools.

Centerville 7 years, 6 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.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 6 months ago

Yea, it's about time to stop the teachers from their meddling in education.

And after that, we can get doctors completely out of medicine.

And next time I need my car fixed, I ain't going to no stinking mechanic.

Liberty275 7 years, 6 months ago

Doctors and car mechanics in Kansas aren't unionized. That's why they are still employed.

Orwell 7 years, 6 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).

geekyhost 7 years, 6 months ago

Yay! Then we can all get a system that does worse than public schools 37% of the time and better only 17% of the time. That's some positive results.

jayhawklawrence 7 years, 6 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?

mbulicz 7 years, 6 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.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 6 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. http://rationalrevolution0.tripod.com/war/bush_family_and_the_s.htm

  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." http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2009/0709macewan.html

  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. http://www.democracynow.org/2009/9/10/good_billions_after_bad_one_year

  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." http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2005/0505orr.html

  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. http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2001/0301miller.html

gl0ck0wn3r 7 years, 6 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]

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