Last November's loss should force republicans to rethink our strategy and our candidates, our positions and our proposals, but most of all it should force us to examine our core principles and how we apply them to a changing world. If we are unable or unwilling to look deeply at ourselves, it is possible that we will be relegated to watch from the sidelines as democrats enact their principles across the country.
Now is the time to be introspective - we are eighteen months from the next election and still reeling from defeat. Today is the day to examine and analyze our principles, to understand how they interact with our world, and to consider how they should be applied. At this time, in the wake of an election, I hope that party politics can be pushed aside (despite all evidence to the contrary, I still hope) and triage performed before an autopsy is necessary. We need to understand that we can no longer be the party of "no".
As a republican, my principles are informed by my experiences, the founding documents of the United States, and my Christian faith. I believe in personal responsibility, hard work, and the value of one life. I also believe in a merciful and loving God who instructs us to care for our neighbors and the world we inhabit.
In the absence of true party leadership and any coherent list of values, I have developed my own list. It would do the Republican Party well to turn to a list of defensible principles such as these and to pursue a positive agenda that our country can support.
1. Regard every life as sacred: unborn, old, gay, illegal - all are children of God
2. Give of oneself and demand others do the same
3. Respect & Compromise - "Get it done" is more important than "I won"
4. Raise up intelligent representatives to lead, not figureheads who sign pledges
5. Instill a simplified tax system that encourages economic growth
6. Favor freedom over government; the libertarians get a lot of it right
7. Engage the world - respect people, protect the environment
8. Maintain a strong, modern military designed to protect, not police
9. Support families: they are the building blocks of a prosperous society
10. Its about everything, not just the economy, stupid
I understand that some of these would be a change from our past, but by turning to values that can be easily explained and defended, we republicans can begin to rebuild what we have lost. These principles are far-reaching and can help the Republican Party engage new groups that are willing to be part of the party, including Hispanics, Reagan democrats, libertarians, and conservative blue collar workers.
Over the next few weeks and months I look forward to expanding on each of these principles. I am hopeful that the party will follow suit and begin to lead in a thoughtful way.