Friday, November 21, 2014

Game Planning

Based on precedent, those of us who are not on the Left have little confidence that the GOP knows what to do believe it is healthy to give the GOP advice about what to do with the mandate it received on November 4th. Therefore, here are some things I believe the incoming Republicans should do after they take their oaths of office.

Follow George Will's advice
By which I mean, take up the six items he recommended in this column.

Follow Charles Krauthammer's recommendation...
...of passing one good and popular piece of legislation per week and sending it to Obama's desk, forcing the president to either sign it into law or veto it. If he chooses the latter route, it will further cement his reputation as America's first imperial president, as one who governs unambiguously against the will of the people. The fact of it being Obama's pen that strikes the legislation down will dim the Democratic Party's chances of retaining the presidency in 2016.

And if Obama chooses to enact rather than veto, that will also dim his party's hopes of retaining the presidency because it will reinforce what the public appears to already believe about Democrats: That they follow the people's will only when they desperately need to get back in the people's good graces.

There is a third possibility: That Senate Democrats will filibuster House-passed legislation to prevent it from being voted on. This too would hurt them and help the GOP.

Before the first week of the new Congress is done, announce the party's plan to combat Obama's dictatorial action of November 20th executive order granting de facto amnesty to millions of illegal aliens Jeffersonian individualists.

The Exalted One is announcing his unilateral action on the same evening I am writing this, and I am not yet going to offer any thoughts on what the GOP's counter plans should be, for the simple reason that I need more time to think through my ideas before putting my name on them. I will, however, stress that the Republicans' November 4th  mandate was clearly a demand for them to stop this autocrat president! In light of that, if they still can't summon the gumption to stand up to him after the amnesty outrage, the disaster which flows from that outrage will be just as much their fault as his.

Obamacare, Part A
Attack it on multiple fronts and do so by root and branch. The public has never approved of it and polls show it is even less popular now than ever. On November 4th, Republicans who won Senate races in key states did so after making a point of opposing it during their campaigns.

Of course, Obama is almost one hundred percent certain to veto any legislation that substantially changes the law which bears his name, but as noted above, him using his veto pen against popular measures will hurt Democrats and help Republicans when 2016 rolls around.

The GOP should start by passing a repeal of Obamacare itself. When El Presidente vetoes it, they should start repealing specific parts of it or challenging them in court. The parts they target should include the individual mandate, business mandate, death panel Independent Payment Advisory Board, tax on medical devices, and many others. If these piecemeal repeal measures also get vetoed or filibustered, well, again, so what? Each veto or filibuster shows who it is that's truly blocking what the public wants and needs -- and while I know my "each veto will hurt the Democrats" claim must be getting repetitive, I am going to repeat it here because it is especially true when the veto protects an unpopular law that was passed solely by Democrats.

Obamacare, Part B
In concert with attacking specific parts of Obamacare, Republicans should pass the kinds of health care reform measures they believe in. Things like: 1) allowing medical insurance carriers to sell a broad array of plans customized to customers' desires and budgets, rather than forcing them to sell only plans that cover what and how Master Government decrees; 2) removing the pointless regulations that force insurers to incur large compliance costs, which are always passed on to their customers in the form of higher premiums; 3) allowing medical insurance to be sold across state lines, which will increase competition and thus could put downward pressure on premiums; 4) allowing tax deductions for medical expenses, and counting insurance premiums as one of those expenses; and 5) encouraging the kind of tort reform that has led to a health care boom in Texas.

In addition, Republicans should leave alone whatever aspects of Obmacare are good and popular (there have to be some).

Obamacare, Part C
They should openly debate and ultimately pursue some health care reform measures that do not fit into the doctrinaire conservative box. One of these might involve making treatment for life-threatening conditions, such as chemotherapy or a coronary bypass, be paid for by the federal government -- while leaving all other treatment, such as your rotator cuff repair or Obama's grandmother's hip replacement, to be paid for by private insurance or by the patient going out of pocket.

(In case you were wondering, although treatment for life-threatening conditions can be overwhelmingly expensive for an individual, it is a relatively small percentage of America's overall health costs. Therefore the government might be able to take up that responsibility without capsizing its fiscal ship, especially if private insurers can also cover such treatment and government steps in only when there is no private coverage.)

Court the "black vote"
I have always contended that based on their stated policy positions, the majority of black Americans ought to be in the Republican Party. (I also base that on the the facts that Abraham Lincoln was a Republican while Jefferson Davis was a Democrat; Governor Orval "Block the Little Rock Nine" Faubus was a Democrat while President Dwight "Protect the Little Rock Nine" Eisenhower was a Republican; George Wallace and Bull Connor were Democrats while MLK was a Republican; Jack Kemp was a Republican; Greg Anthony is a Republican; Charles Barkley trends Republican; Lionel Hampton was a Republican, and on and on.)

I long ago made my peace with not being able to comprehend why such a high percentage of black voters pull the Democrat lever, but I have never wavered in my desire to bring more of them into the Republican tent -- and like I already touched on here, November 4th shows us that the time is ripe to do just that.

I do not believe the goals of the GOP and the goals of black voters are different. To make that clear to the only people who matter -- black voters themselves -- Republicans should engage in the very simple and extremely important task of speaking directly to black audiences about issues on which they agree. By "speaking directly," I'm talking about doing so year-round, not just in election years, and in intimate settings like churches and community meetings. And I mean "talk with" as opposed to "talk to." When Republican leaders are in the LA area, they should spend more time conversing with parishioners in the middle of Watts than dining with members of Rick Warren's Orange County megachurch.

The issues on which Republicans and the majority of black Americans agree include, above all else, school choice. Not far behind that are protection of religious liberty, protection of property rights, and creating a friendly market environment with genuine and visible prospects for new jobs.

Perhaps most importantly, however, today's GOP leaders should make it a centerpiece of their speeches to stress that they are dedicated to preserving a welfare safety net for those who truly need it. They should stop superficially playing the "What Would Reagan Do?" card, and instead point to what the the Gipper actually did regarding welfare when he was governor of California: Enact reforms that removed those who did not need assistance from the state's rolls, while increasing benefits by more than 40 percent for those who did need it.

Republicans have never wanted to eliminate welfare; but they tend to be poor communicators, and therefore they have always assumed everyone knows they don't want to eliminate it, and thus they have failed to state so with the kind of passion that makes doubters believe. As a result, for decades on end the Democratic Party has been able to say the GOP wants to throw the indigent on the street and eliminate school lunches and do all kinds of nefarious things that will have a disparate impact on America's black population -- and the GOP's listless denials to those charges have caused many members of America's black population to suspect that there might be some truth to them.

It is time for Republicans to stop committing this abominable unforced error. By simply making it clear that they don't want to eliminate the safety net, they can get millions more black people to listen to what they have to say. Once that happens, a not-insignificant percentage of them might decide to pull the Republican lever.

It would only take 20 to 25 percent of black Americans voting GOP to make the GOP almost unbeatable, and let's be serious:  A piddling number like that should not be hard to obtain. Getting to it is not the easiest lift in the world and it won't happen overnight, but it's not the heaviest lift in the world either.

The black vote is available. The GOP should go out there and earn it.

I'm kind of riffing off the above section with this. Like I just said, Republicans tend to be poor communicators and it's time to put an end to that. It bothers me that the same party which produced Lincoln and Reagan has not been able to produce any other excellent communicators in its 150+ years of existence.

Thankfully, the GOP does have some good communicators in its younger ranks and it's not necessary to send them to speech class. They simply need to get their face directly in front of the public more often, talk candidly when they do, and eventually each of them should mature into the best version of himself.

Republicans can't count on the media to accurately portray conservative ideas and ideals, because the media never has and never will. Instead, Republican officeholders need to go on talking head news shows (national and local ones alike) and state their case to the viewers. They should welcome doing so at the same time that another guest is presenting "the other side," so that the public can see a debate rather than a monologue. They should pen commentaries to appear in their local newspapers. They should often travel back to their states and districts and talk at all kinds of community gatherings, public holiday observances, etc.

Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz should do everything possible to make Univision their second home. So too should the fluently Spanish-speaking Jeb Bush, who, contrary to what some radio fire-breathers claim, is a bona fide conservative with a long public record that proves it.

A little communication can go a long way. Like Vincent "Bo" Jackson famously said on behalf of Nike: Just do it.

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