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Vail Daily letter: Opportunity for GOP

I am an independent voter, but with impeccable family Republican DNA. Consider my mother voted and actively supported the GOP presidential candidates from the first time women could vote in a national election in 1920 through the 2000 election! Then as a centenarian, she worked tirelessly for George W. Bush, but died before the Supreme Court decided the outcome. Don’t know if she would continue her unyielding Republican support following actions from that point forward. For me, I’ve had to become an independent for the moment and not follow the family tradition.

Consider the party has lost the “high ground” in two key areas:

• Fiscal and economic conservatism: It is now in the hands of Democrats — noting Clinton brought in a budget surplus and Obama had to put right the inherited Great Recession

• National defense/foreign policy: No longer a party strong point with our two regime-change wars violating a Reagan doctrine and H.W. Bush’s precedent of only starting military actions for very specific missions — with allies on board, financially and steadfastly.

Further, consider actions not “high ground” and/or not necessary:

• Crossing the church-state divide.

• “Soiling our nest” for short term gain, noting Nixon gave us the clean air, clean water and EPA legislations.

• Creating unfair voter playing fields — voter ID encumbrances and gerrymandering (Republicans are just better at this).

Further, consider the party’s political process problems:

• A party of “no” — where alternatives are not forthcoming.

• Ideological extremists on autopilot, muttering their one-liners.

• Party split between moderates and the extreme right.

• Lip service for candidate diversity and broader voter outreach.

Fixing all the above is clearly impossible, much less desirable. However, with backbone, there is an enormous opportunity now to establish responsible and pragmatic, fiscal and economic conservatism as the single, common theme across almost all issues — trumping just about everything else.

Consider starting with immigration. We all know the impending problem of fewer and fewer younger workers to support our rapidly aging population with Social Security, Medicare and never-enough general revenue issues — a fiscal and economic problem if there ever was one. Yet we fail to fully utilize the full potential of our younger, undocumented 11 million immigrant population based on one-liner ideologies and party infighting. Many politicians do not know or conveniently forget Reagan had legislative action allowing 2.7 million to gain legal status and half had a path to citizenship via the 1986 Immigration Reform Act — back in the days when these were “big” numbers. With any major legislative action, follow-ons are required, but not enough was done after the act was passed — including border security and some functional aspects. Had this follow-on been done, the highly charged differences today might not be present or toned down. So here’s a place to start now with a new single dominant, positive theme for the GOP.

So am I, and other independents, likely to support Republicans? It depends on real actions and not one-liners. The GOP might start by understanding the difference between “preaching to the choir” for fund raising and “sugar high” moments vs. “teaching to the undecided” with visions of responsible and pragmatic conservatism in order to win elections and then actually have to govern. Perhaps “responsible and pragmatic conservatism” could be the new watch-word, as “compassionate conservatism” was a bust.

Paul Rondeau


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