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Republican majority: What would it take?

As I See It

The political season is upon us and I am enjoying it thoroughly. I like to argue issues and ideology. While pondering the state of things recently, it crossed my mind that, with a little “tweaking,” the Republicans could become the majority party in this country. My ancestors are no doubt recoiling at this blasphemy.

I sense a gradual changing of attitudes in America back toward individual initiative and responsibility. The grand experiment of government being the solution to every problem was a failure. The entire social fabric of our nation has been torn asunder by generations of politically correct irresponsibility. I sense that the winds of change are blowing.

Happily, much good has come during the last 40 years. The rights of full citizenship have been extended to every sector of our population. Though poverty and discrimination still exists in America today, the situation is vastly better than it was in prior times. On the international front, the United States won the Cold War and survived as a super power.

Sadly, much bad has also evolved over the same period. Dishonesty has always been with us, but now seems to be increasingly accepted. White flight to the suburbs has reeked havoc on inner cities. Crime, drug abuse and broken families are the legacy of the excessively permissive attitude that has permeated our society.

I think people are ready and anxious to get back to a more conservative society where government involvement in our daily lives is minimal and individuals are held to high standards, both by themselves and society as a whole. The time may be near when the citizenry will throw off the yoke of excessive government and revert to the personal autonomy that made this country great in the first place.

What would it take for the Republican Party to prevail as the majority party? A lot. First the party must curtail its extremes by muzzling the religious right and dispelling its “fat cat” image. This will take some doing. Additionally, it appears to me that the Republicans have lost some of their commitment to smaller government. This plank needs to be replaced in the platform.

The religious right is very vocal in demanding government curtailment of abortion and prescribing prayer in public places. Neither of these issues has a place in the political arena. My conscience tells me that abortion is wrong when used as a method of birth control. I also believe that dishonesty in any form is wrong. In neither case do I want government policing my personal choices. I am responsible for the choices I make and I will ultimately answer to a Higher Power and that power is not in Washington.

Could any real conservative favor removing mandated public prayer from the political arena? Yes. Prayer is a very personal experience and each religion approaches it differently. Which denomination’s prayer format is the right one for all of us to use? Yours? Mine? Jewish? Hindu? Muslim? Adopting a “national religion” doesn’t square with freedom of religion. In fact, one of the principal motives driving our founding fathers was escape from the officially-sanctioned Church of England. Religion is a highly personal aspect of our lives and is much too important to be politicized.

The recent $800-billion tax cut passed by Congress was a mistake. Just a few short years ago, the American people were told that we were going broke and drown in the national debt. Our children and grandchildren were going to be subjected to extreme hardship to pay for our excesses. The survivability of Social Security and Medicare was in serious doubt. Now, suddenly, we are being told that the situation has changed and we have more money than even the federal government can spend.

All this is predicated on economic assumptions stretching over the next 15 years. Spending tomorrow dollars today is what got us in this fix in the first place. We should get the money in the bank first, pay off the debt and then decide what to do with the surplus. That is politically correct conservatism. Republicans should have taken a leadership role in demanding fiscal responsibility rather than promoting a tax cut bill that is categorized by many as primarily benefiting the wealthy.

The Republican “fat cat” image wasn’t helped recently by the announcement of an exclusive club for supporters who contribute $1 million to the party over four years. Most Americans can’t even conceive of having a million dollars, much less giving it to a political party. Bad image in progress.

If the Republicans can shake off the fat-cat image and release themselves from the grasp of the religious right, while promoting the basic conservative ideas of minimal government and personal responsibility, they just might pull it off. They will have followed the road less traveled.

THOUGHT FOR THE MOMENT

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

— JOHN 13:34

Joe D. Jones, CPA, is publisher of the Mississippi Business Journal. His e-mail address is cpajones@msbusiness.com.

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