The nation’s most influential gathering of conservatives — the Conservative Political Action Conference — was recently held in Washington. Based on the 11,000 attendees and the level of energy from the ranks, it was a huge success.
The attendees were proud: Their side had taken control of the House, gained in the Senate, and added governorships and state legislatures to the “R” column.
Several themes were common throughout the conference: repeal Obamacare, reign in spending, and reduce the size of government. But sometimes, the most noteworthy thing is not what is said, but what isn’t.
Not heard as often was what the party was for.
If the GOP becomes perceived as the “party of no,” their recent gains will shrink, thereby jeopardizing the nation’s recovery.
They can certainly be against the liberal agenda, but that only gets them so far. Ultimately, they have to articulate their vision, advocating real solutions to float the sinking economy.
By far, the two areas where communication is needed most, but is noticeably absent, are healthcare and energy.
The majority of Americans oppose the healthcare plan passed by Obama. But an even greater number agree that the system before Obamacare didn’t cut it. Pushing to repeal Obamacare, but not articulating a solution to replace it, is a recipe for disaster.
And it’s not what you say, but how you say it.
Republicans pushing tort reform need to explain, in everyday language, that costs are skyrocketing because doctors order multiple tests when one or two would suffice. That practice of “defensive medicine” stems from the fear of frivolous lawsuits initiated by trial lawyers, who, not coincidentally, are one of the Democratic Party’s largest donors.
Illustrating such unchecked greed would make winning the legal reform battle infinitely easier, but it’s rarely done.
Likewise, the GOP needs to question why one can buy auto insurance from any company in any state, but it remains illegal to purchase health insurance across state lines. Communicating why that system must be dismantled — where smaller providers are pushed out, leading to citizens and businesses being held hostage — is a winning issue.
Advocating common sense solutions takes the stigma out of discussing the complexities of healthcare, and would solve the bulk of our healthcare problems.
Taxes and spending are other crucial issues. The United States has the second-highest corporate tax in the world. After states tack on their taxes, it becomes clear why companies close their doors, often shipping operations overseas.
Articulating the results, padlocked gates, lost jobs, rising unemployment and welfare rolls, and declining revenue, exposes the left’s fallacies that taxing companies and the “rich” will solve the nation’s problems.
Instead, the average worker, union and non-union alike, would understand why lowering taxes benefits everyone.
Closed factories equal lost jobs. It’s that simple.
But hearing that explained is rare, because it’s much easier to blame China.
What many Republicans miss the most is that cutting budgets and bureaucracy, while important, will not provide the spark necessary for sustained growth. Just as you cannot tax your way out of recession, you can’t slash your way into prosperity.
What’s needed is a policy that makes growth the centerpiece, and nowhere is that more obtainable than by instituting energy independence.
In addition to the millions of jobs created and the decreased costs of importing goods, reducing U.S. dependence on foreign oil, especially from the volatile Middle East, will yield positive results. America has the resources to achieve energy independence, including some of the largest natural gas deposits in the world, but virtually nothing has been done to take advantage of this. Too often, Republicans efforts in this area have amounted to just rhetoric.
Having the best ideas is meaningless if you don’t sell them.
Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau (FreindlyFireZone.com). He can be reached at CF@FreindlyFireZone.com
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