Now that Bush has won reelection, Republicans have secured general legislative control for an additional two years, and knowing Congressional turnover probably four unless they screw up horribly.

Republicans, you need to learn a lesson that every ruling party must keep in mind if they want to avoid becoming an ossified wreck. You did not come to power for its own sake, nor ought your main job be to continue that power. You came to power to do things, and now that Republicans have been the majority party in the federal government for some time, you have a responsibility for how governmental processes turn out. I'm not going to tackle each of these areas comprehensively, but they are areas which need to see significant progress if Republican voters are going to bother keeping you in power.

1. Military Spending. We do need advanced weapons, but most importantly we need advanced soldiers. Despite scare tactics from the left, we could easily build up to Cold War levels without even considering the draft. We probably don't need to go more than half way there. But that requires authorization, which is to say money. Defence of the country is one of the federal government's prime responsibilities. Treat it that way.

2. Social Security. We need to take substantive steps to get that spending under control. The sooner we do it, the better. I favor means-testing, because I think having the large majority of the payments going to the rich and middle class is stupid for a system which is defended as a safety-net. But that terminology has become poisoned, so you will probably have to call it something else.

3. Free Trade. It has excellent pay-offs, but you can't make lots of little exceptions because they tend to swallow the rule. Stick to it.

4. Education. Its good for the country and in a somewhat surprising alignment, one of the issues that makes it look like you care.

5. Abortion. Most of the US is not NARAL. If you pass fair late-term laws which allow for verifiable medical exceptions, the electorate is not going to punish for it. If you go crazy, well they probably will punish you. But most people really aren't comfortable with late term abortions. Roe theoretically says that they can be banned in certain ways. You can act in that zone.

6. Tax simplification.

7. The deficit. We can grow our way out of some of it, but not all of it. Programs are going to have to be cut, or taxes raised. You make the call, you are responsible for it. I suggest you find ways to trim the budget. I also suggest that farm subsidies are the first to go. Best do it soon though, I don't want to hear whining about the 2006 elections yet.

You can dodge responsibility and maybe even fool people about it. But it isn't good for the country. So do your jobs.

Posted by Sebastian Holsclaw at November 4, 2004 10:46 AM