Dan Calabrese: The GOP Can Win in 2022 and Win Big - And It Won't Even Be Hard
What is the job of the opposition party? To take this description literally and obviously, it’s to oppose everything the governing party tries to do. Although Republicans are not far from majorities in either house of Congress, they have neither the numbers on Capitol Hill nor in the White House to pass a conservative governing agenda.
So yes, Republicans will speak in opposition to the bills President Joe Biden wants passed, and they will vote against the measures Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi bring to the floor. Perhaps on some occasions they will even be able to muster some Democratic opposition and stop these measures from passing. I suppose they’ll consider those outcomes victories for them.
But if that’s all they do, they’re not doing everything they should do.
Congressional Republicans need to present the nation with an agenda for how they would govern if they were given the chance. And they should not wait until the 2022 midterm campaign season commences. They need to do it now.
There are several reasons for this. The first is that no one gets excited about supporting the party that’s against everything. If Biden says that $2,000 checks will save us, and Republicans simply say no, the narrative becomes that Republicans don’t want us saved. But if Republicans come forth with their own policy agenda, they can make the case to the public that they’re for a better plan, rather than being against the only plan.
And if the public likes the Republican plans, then it puts Biden and the Democrats on the defensive to explain why they don’t.
Another reason Republicans need to do this is to reset the narrative in the post-Trump era. For the past five years, the Republican agenda was whatever Donald Trump wanted. Some of that was good (tax cuts, deregulation, domestic energy), some of it was not so good (out-of-control spending, trade wars), but it all came back to Trump. If Trump wasn’t for it, there was no sense advocating it.
It would help Republicans tremendously to show that they’ve moved on from Trump by allowing new leaders to emerge with their own ideas. These leaders should be bold. They should be comprehensive.
They should tell the public exactly what they would do with taxes, what kind of budget they would pass, what kinds of laws they would pass or repeal, how they would handle foreign policy and national security. And of course, they should say how they would handle the vaccinations that are the only way forward to ending the pandemic.
They should be bold about all of this. Not only that, but having announced this agenda, they should boldly ask their Democratic colleagues in Congress to join them in supporting it, and they should ask President Biden to sign it into law.
The Democrats won’t, of course, but they should be put on the defensive and asked to explain why they won’t. Granted, the media won’t do this because of their bias and advocacy for the Democrats, but there are enough platforms available today for public officials to speak directly to the public that they can put pressure on the Democrats themselves if their agenda is bold enough and the public embraces it.
Finally, if Republicans embrace a bold and well-received agenda, that positions them beautifully for the 2022 midterms. The president’s party usually takes a beating in midterm elections, and it won’t take much of a beating in 2022 to give Republicans back control of Congress. A swing of only one seat in the Senate and six in the House would get the job done.
So what should this agenda be?
I’d be all in for a further simplification of the tax code – with fewer, lower rates and fewer loopholes – along with a reduction in the size of government, particularly when it comes to rules and regulations. I would push for continued aggressive development of domestic energy resources.
I would also go big and advocate a real plan for entitlement reform. I know political consultants will tell you that’s political suicide, but the public knows we’re biding time before a fiscal disaster, and the party that is prepared to propose a solution will win the respect of the public.
To date, both parties have been afraid to do this. Republicans should be the ones who stop being afraid.
And I would embrace a robust leadership role in the world, working with our allies – but not under the auspices of the United Nations – to fight terrorism while beating back the hegemonic ambitions of Russia, China, Iran, North Korea and other global bad actors.
Finally, I would advocate a true free-market health care system that leaves people and their doctors in charge of health care treatment and spending decisions – not third-party payers and certainly not the government.
Come forward boldly to advocate all of this, and dare Democrats and the media to attack it. They will, of course, but you’ll lay down the marker that this is where you stand and this is how to solve the country’s problems.
And when Democrats go in the completely opposite direction, the public will have the chance to measure their agenda against yours and judge the result.
But the public can’t do that if you haven’t given them an agenda, so give them one. And don’t wait until next year. Do it now.
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