8 Steps to Revive the Right
8. Play Offense: If the Right wants to win, it must play offense rather than defense. Romantic notions of idyllic times when politicians debated erudite issues instead of “playing politics” are both naïve and uninformed. The Federalists defeated Thomas Jefferson in the presidential election of 1796 in part by casting him as an anti-Christian atheist, and warning that his presidency would mean the seizure of bibles by executive mandate, utter non-sense but highly effective. Playing defense certainly did not serve Romney well; he unwittingly assumed that harping on a bad economy was enough to win the presidency. While Romney was buried under a morass of Bane Capital dross, Obama went unscathed. He should have learned from McCain’s unwillingness to “take the gloves off” and go on the offensive four years earlier.
7. Abandon the Warfare State: Patrick Buchanan and Ron Paul have been right about this for years. According to Pew Research, Americans by enormous margins want the United States to stop interfering in the affairs of other states and focus resources at home. Americans also recognize, as Chris Preble and Ben Friedman of the Cato Institute recently penned, that “the United States needn’t run the world to be safe in it.” In fact, trying to manage world affairs has made us weaker not stronger. Along these lines, we can and must cut our ridiculous defense budget, which exceeds the military spending of all other industrial nations put together. Supporting a strong national defense is not synonymous with advocating interventionism overseas, nor is it synonymous with profligate military spending.
6. Better Voter-Data Analytics: The success of Organizing for Action is well known, as are the tech foibles of the 2012 Romney campaign. The failure of Project Orca, a smartphone application designed to help turn out voters, is emblematic of the Right’s broader failure to keep technological pace with the Left. Though the importance of social media is probably overstated, especially because the younger voters they target are fickle, data mining is not. The Right needs more data infrastructure to challenge the Left’s dominance. Businesses are revolutionizing customer relationship management (CRM) by employing data rich sources. The analogy is direct, voters are customers. When it comes to canvassing, knowing is half the battle; once we know who and where potential voters are, we can launch directed organized outreach to turn them out.
5. Promote a Plan for Growth: On the Right, there is broad consensus that Washington needs a new tax system and an overhaul of existing regulations. But to capture public attention the Right needs a simple, digestible plan for growth. Here is one: New Enterprise, Energy, and Advanced Manufacturing. New companies trying to launch an IPO or secure funding from Venture Capital firms need less regulation, lower taxes, and a reformed patent system. America is in the embryonic stage of an energy revolution. To nurture its continued growth we need to lift restrictions on exporting oil overseas, greater access to federal lands and coastal areas, and more energy transportation and distribution infrastructure. Among the main reasons for the decline of the middle class is the decline of manufacturing. We need a national vocational system, incentives for manufacturing firms to build in the US, and a federal department oriented specifically to promoting domestic manufacturers. Reforms focused on these sectors will generate millions of jobs and restore growth to the battered US economy.
4. Develop a Strategy for Victory. Messaging is everything. The Right needs a new branding, a new image if you will. To do so it must think bigger, find a collective identity and express that identity in simple language. Here is a thought: become the Party of Innovation. The Left represents the past, the entitlement state, big government, and bailouts. The Right should champion innovations in health-care, education, technology, R&D, energy etc. It can do so by embracing public policies that endorses direct primary care, a national vocational system, tech start-ups, R&D funding, and pro-energy shale oil, natural gas, and tight oil exploration and development.
3. Fire Establishment GOP Leadership: When organizations fail in business, in warfare, or on the sports field executives are the first to go. Politics is the noticeable exception. The Republican Party is in a state of free fall, fractured by internal divisions, lacking a coherent identity, and absent clear leadership. If the Right wants to change the game, we need a new coaching staff. Off-loading RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, House Speaker John Boehner, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is a good start. “Republicans” on Capitol Hill who refuse to take on the exploding national debt, flirt with amnesty for over 12 million illegal immigrants, or cave to Obamacare should be put on notice—all RINOs will be primary-ed.
2. No Amnesty: This could be considered number one because granting any form of amnesty will all but eliminate the chance for a return to limited Constitutional government based on rule of law. Those who think that amnesty will secure Latino voters should consider a couple things: first, the last major amnesty (1987) was signed into law by Republican President Ronald Reagan, which did not help secure our borders or curry favor with Hispanic voters; and second, illegal voters are disproportionately government dependents uninterested in the Constitution or in assimilating to basic American culture by speaking English or following the law.
1. Find Leaders: The most important step to turning around any failing enterprise is to find people who can lead the turn around. Put differently, if you are going to fire the CEO you need to find a new one. No successful organization, business, party, or movement can be unified or successful without a designated leader or chain of command. Five years in the Tea Party is learning this lesson the hard way. There are many examples from history that immediately come to mind, but here is a more contemporaneous example of the difference leadership can make—Nigel Farage. Nigel Farage (pictured above) is the voice and leader of the UK Independence Party (UKIP). Farage’s unique skill set, his ability to rationalize and articulate UKIP’s populist anti-EU message, has transformed the erstwhile fringe party into a major force in British politics. It is noteworthy that Farage is not even an MP in London but a distant Member of European Parliament (MEP) in Brussels. In short, having talented spokesmen wherever they can be found is indispensable. Could Senator Ted Cruz be one of them?
Cameron Macgregor is a US Naval Academy graduate and former naval officer. He is currently a graduate student at George Mason University.