I grew up Republican.
I thought like a Republican, felt like Republican, defended Republican ideals. I listened to Sean and Glenn before they were household names; I couldn't wait to hear what Rush had to say next.
But over the last few years I have become disenchanted with the Republican Party. Much of the time, I have avoided calling myself a Republican at all. I have called myself a moderate, an independent, a conservative -- anything to distance myself from the label "Republican." I have watched Republicans focus on issues that I find unimportant and irresponsible, and have found their positions impossible to defend. In so many ways I have found them and the party irrelevant.
As such, I have changed much of my political behavior: I have voted Democrat, I have voted third party; I have argued against Republican strategy and have been frustrated by Republican focus. The fact that I, an affirmed and devoted Republican, am wavering is an indication that many less committed individuals have already bailed; this should be of major concern to party leaders.
The shortcomings of the Republican Party have become all too clear to me, as I have spent my 20's and 30's working with "at-risk" youth in America and doing development work around the world. The people I work with have real problems and are yearning for real solutions -- and our politicians are failing them. The Republican Party needs to begin to address the needs of people like them if it wants to become relevant again.
And yet, despite my current disillusions, I still consider myself a Republican.
I believe a strong and purposeful Republican Party, one that governs with conviction and compromises when necessary, would benefit all Americans. I still believe the core principles of the Republican Party are more likely to lead our country to a prosperous future than those of opposing political parties.
But to be relevant, we need to return to the basics: We need to focus on big ideas, important principles -- we need to champion small efficient government, a simplified tax code, valuing each and every person, and opportunity for all Americans whatever their race or creed or gender. If we return to these roots, we can be the party that leads America back to hope. Over the coming weeks and months, I look forward to discussing principles that I believe should become the core of a new Republican Party.
I invite discussion and criticism from Republicans, Democrats, and Independents. A stronger and more inclusive Republican Party would benefit all Americans. I hope we can, together, lead America back to prosperity.