2017 Political New Year’s Resolutions
One year, about a decade ago, I made what I thought a very clever New Year’s Resolution that I would no longer make New Year’s Resolutions. It was one commitment I thought I would be able to keep, but alas, like most of my resolutions I violated it almost at the first opportunity. So now, resigned to the fact that, despite my past snarky cleverness, I will be making yearly promises to myself till the end, I will once again sign up for many personal improvements in 2017. In that spirit, and being a rookie blogger, I thought I’d expand this violation to include on-the-record political resolutions for me and, hopefully, many Republicans and Conservatives. As always I look forward to the comments, and hope others will work to improve and expand the list. Enjoy!
Resolution #1: Just the Facts Ma’am
Manipulating the populace via half-truths, “spin” and out-right lies is not new to politics. 2016 was, however, a year for the record books and I myself was fooled on at least two occasions by “fake news” that made it into my blog, requiring correction. I resolve to check the facts from multiple sources, and use my own judgement, before believing what the manipulators are putting out, whether that be from the left or the right. Conservative positions should win on their own merit (if they can’t then they shouldn’t be our positions) but only if we use facts and logic and resist the temptation to join the left in its destruction of objective truth.
Resolution #2: Outrage Ain’t Policy
Related to Resolution #1 is my resolve to push Republicans to not be the party of emotion and “feelings” but the party of real solutions to real problems. While it is tempting to try and sway a few percentage points of undecideds with the “outrage of the day” politicking, my hope is that the Trump Administration and our 2017 candidates in Virginia will concentrate instead on acknowledging real problems and putting forth real, workable, solutions. These are sometimes too complicated to fit into talking points and buzzwords, but if we work the craft of political communications, we can win voters with this strategy. Ed Gillespie’s campaign, with its issues committees, seems off to a promising start. Clearly the left will not cooperate in this, and will instead try to scare everyone into voting for them, but we should not take the bait.
Resolution #3: Don’t Count Anyone Out
If 2016 taught us anything, it is that anything is possible in politics. For decades the left generally, and the Democratic Party specifically, laid claim to constituencies deemed out of reach for Conservatives and the Republican Party. Trump’s outreach to the urban poor, to African-Americans, and to the working men and women of traditionally union/Democrat strongholds should serve as an example to all politicians. If you have a good case to make, make it. I resolve to resist the echo-chamber and delve into topics and constituencies once thought lost. Our case is a good one – we should make it to anyone who will listen.
Resolution #4: They Do Have a Point
In regards to Resolution #3, you cannot reach out to a community if you dismiss their concerns as uninformed, or worse informed only by bad intention. While we may currently disagree over the solutions, we should never dismiss the concerns. If a particular demographic is wed to the left, or to the democrats, or to big-government solutions it is because they have real issues. Instead of dismissing those, I resolve to understand them, respect them, and address them, unapologetically, through conservative and Republican principles.
Resolution #5: Don’t Accept the Premise
I made this resolution last year, and actually enjoyed carrying it out. I resolve to “fight the premise” and never give into the labels that the left pushes on us, or let them push lies and myths in support of their cause. I am not “racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic, you name it…” as Hillary Clinton labeled Republicans, and I will fight those charges at every turn. Progressives use those words and false assertions (“women make seventy-seven cents to every dollar men make” etc.) to intimidate Republicans and Conservatives into silence, or alternatively to get us to apologize for our beliefs. If you start an argument by accepting those labels or false statistics, or focus on apologizing for them, you have already lost. In 2017 I resolve to consider those labels “fighting words,” and if you pull them out, I will challenge you. I further resolve to boldly debunk the mythology that undergirds much of the progressive platform.
Resolution #6: Government Programs Don’t Solve Everything
Republicans tend to cede to the Democrats an important concept, that being that “doing something,” invariably through government action, is the key to solving all of society’s problems. In fact, in many cases, as Reagan said, “government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.” Sometimes the solution is to let freedom ring and do no harm. My hope is that Mr. Trump will follow Calvin Coolidge’s advice, to wit, “[p]erhaps one of the most important accomplishments of my administration has been minding my own business.“ Government has a role, obviously, in our society. Right now that role is massively over-sized, and reductions in power and spending are key to the conservative cause. Fixing that over-sized problem will not be accomplished by a host of new programs, no matter how impressive they sound on the campaign trail. I resolve to support candidates who value freedom, trust the American public and the American system, and pledge to do no harm, over those with a bevy of clever programs under their arm. To quote Coolidge again, “[f]our-fifths of all our troubles would disappear, if we would only sit down and keep still.”
Resolution #7: Focus on the Big Things
There are some serious problems that need addressing, and some of those may require new government action. Others (many? most?) actually require that government get out of the way or stop doing what it has been doing. Our party’s focus should be on those big problems, not on the minutiae that dominate the political conversation these days. Democrats love the little issues, as they are easier to demagogue and more effective in splitting off small percentages of voters. Republicans should resist jumping in the mud on these less impactful issues, and focus instead on entitlement reform, the national debt, reducing spending and taxation, National and Homeland Security, Constitutional Governance, the Rule of Law, encouraging economic activity and growth and improving the performance of the government we have (which must include reducing it). Americans have never wanted government to be involved in every aspect of their lives, and a clear statement that we know that should sell well. I will support candidates who focus on the big issues, and resolve to avoid tit-for-tat tangents into things best left to the people to solve.
Resolution #8: The Eleventh Commandment
With the primary season heating up it is useful to remind ourselves that we should pick our nominees through an assessment of their qualities, not through the destruction of opponents. I resolve to call out any primary candidate who personally attacks their Republican opponent, and personally assess who is best for the nomination on the basis of positive qualities. That may be harder, but it is certainly better for the party.
Resolution #9: Work
I resolve to work the grassroots effort, give money to candidates, and work hard to win elections with my own labor. Leaving that to someone else is not an option any Republican should accept.
Resolution #10: Be Positive
Republicans and Conservatives made great progress in 2016, and our policies and principles promise great things to the Republic. We should be the party of opportunity, of hope, of promise, not the party that focuses on the negatives and casts our eyes downward in despair. I resolve to focus on the positive impact of Republican and conservative principles and policies, and make the case as to why our nation’s best days can still yet be in front of us.
New Year’s Resolutions can be hard to keep. Skipping the gym is one thing, but our nation’s future depends on the revitalization of Republican and conservative principles and priorities. As the year begins, let us all resolve to be better at inspiring the nation to greatness. “Making America Great Again” is a promise we should all resolve to keep.
See the follow-up post, Two Quick Opportunities to Keep My Resolutions.