The New Contract With America
posted at 4:26 pm on September 1, 2009 by Doctor Zero
Observers of the political scene are increasingly willing to entertain the possibility that the Republicans could retake the House in 2010. As Ed pointed out yesterday, they have an opportunity even greater than 1994, but thus far they haven’t demonstrated anything like the organization Newt Gingrich and his team brought to the party. The last thing I heard from a prominent Republican politician in either house of Congress was Orrin Hatch suggesting we present Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat to his widow as a gift.
The time is unquestionably ripe for a new Contract With America. It only makes sense to nationalize the election, in response to the growing discontent voters feel with the President’s agenda. It’s also wise for the Republican Party to come together around a clear statement of policy and principle, as a way of re-introducing themselves to an electorate that couldn’t find many reasons to love them in 2006 and 2008.
The new Contract With America should set out a bold vision for undoing the damage Obama has done to the country. This will be a more delicate project than it might seem at first glance. Obama was a radical who ran as a moderate, and a certain degree of radical change will be necessary to undo the damage. It will take some heavy lifting to get America back to where it was just one year ago, a journey that will double back across a barren wasteland of wasted tax dollars, past bottomless deficit pits and pools of poisonous regulation, where a murder of czars picks at the bones of long-dead liberty. The media will assure the public this journey is a suicide mission, and their only choice is to plod along the irreversible course the Democrats have plotted, no matter how dreary it might be.
The task for the Republicans is to both excite and reassure the public. Average folks always say they want “change,” but they’re understandably nervous about massive upheavals. They won’t be eager to hop off the Democrat log flume and jump right onto a Republican roller coaster. A well-reasoned agenda, backed up with resolute common sense, will go a long way toward convincing them that the fate Obama had in mind for them is neither desirable, nor inevitable.
I hope the new Contract With America features massive reductions in government spending as a centerpiece. The government must release its death grip on the private sector. Private industries grow, produce new products, generate wealth, and create jobs. Government-controlled industries are corpses that decompose at varying speeds. Why would the economy grow, and spur new job creation, if the private sector keeps contracting? Let the new Contract With America explain the staggering size of Obama’s deficits, and the radical explosions in government spending… then show how the two are related, and why they can only be reduced in tandem. Pledge that no new agencies will be created, and the process of trimming the fat from the bloated federal government will begin in earnest under Republican leadership.
The new Contract should shatter the ridiculous myths Democrats have been concocting about their failed policies. Purge America of the economic ignorance necessary to believe something like Cash for Clunkers was a success. Promise a full accounting for the billions that disappeared from Cash for Clunkers and the “stimulus” bill. Pledge the full and timely release of vital economic data, which Obama has gone to great lengths to conceal. Explain why the Post Office is not a model which the health-care industry should emulate.
Republicans should vow to bring transparency and accountability to the shady maze of back alleys and smoke-filled rooms Obama spilled on the already mean streets of Washington. Michelle Malkin’s new book is a detailed indictment of the new Culture of Corruption. She already did the heavy lifting for you, Republicans. Present her table of contents to the American people as a target list, and promise none of those targets will be left standing by the end of 2010. An awful lot of Americans already own that book. Maybe they can use red pens to draw little bulls-eyes next to the names, as they are taken down. Election day should see a massive run on red pens. Don’t make Michelle publish a second edition of the book in 2011.
The new Contract With America must, inevitably, address health care. The Republicans should take this opportunity to explain how government intervention has caused many of the problems that exist in the health care system. More intervention is not the solution. The answer lies with treating health care like other commodities, and allowing competition, and the creative energy of the free market, to make it less expensive, and therefore more available. Socialism can only increase supply at the expense of quality, and it can never increase supply enough to meet skyrocketing demand. Prices are not reduced by grinding them into dust and hiding them in everyone’s tax bills.
Competition requires more companies to enter the insurance industry, while a government-funded insurance option will inevitably have the opposite effect. Competition also requires greater consumer participation, which means more awareness of exactly what they’re buying, and how much they are paying for it. Too much of health care is hidden behind the bureaucratic complexity of health insurance, which isn’t really “insurance” at all, but rather the medium of exchange for the purchase of medicine – a baffling foreign currency minted from a blend of payroll deductions, employer contributions, and government subsidies. Let people have “insurance” for catastrophes, and purchase rational health plans for routine care with their own money, bringing patients and doctors together. Reduce the legal costs to the medical profession, through tort reform… and explain, in clear and fearless language, why that will never happen under Democrats. Free markets can only exist in bright daylight – choice requires knowledge.
The new Contract With America should include a firm commitment to America’s defense. Pledge to end all political prosecution of American intelligence agents and military personnel, and make a strong declaration that our soldiers are not chips to be tossed on the political poker table. Make a promise to America’s defenders that they will always go into battle with clear rules of engagement, and never need to worry about being second-guessed by politicians after the shooting stops. Include a heartfelt, long overdue thanks to all of the men and women who have kept America safe since September 11, 2001.
The Republicans should pledge to hold regular, well-attended meetings with their constituents, and promise that both supporters and dissenters will be kept safe, and respected. This is a long, slow pitch over home plate, and it would be foolish not to knock it out of the park.
These ideas, and many other worthwhile proposals, must be expressed in both practical and moral language. When the Left is confronted by the failure of its ideas, it always tries to foreclose alternatives by declaring them unthinkable. No liberal has ever been more likely to mount this defense than Barack Obama, who has nothing except the assumed mantle of moral superiority to offer in defense of his party. Few have looked more ridiculous trying to don that mantle. There has been too much corruption in this Administration, too many Obama cronies getting rich while unemployment and the deficit explode, too many knives in America’s back with Nancy Pelosi’s fingerprints all over them. The case for freedom and capitalism should begin with the simple understanding they are inseparable.
I’m sure I left some things out. There is no shortage of things the Republicans can do for their country. If they can’t rise to the occasion, in this of all election seasons, it will be time for them to step aside – or more to the point, it will be time for us to push them aside. They need to do more than convince us they’re a bit less awful than the Democrats. They need to make us believe in them again. It’s a tall order. That’s why I want some time to study the menu.