By Sam Clovis
Now that I have over-generalized and over-simplified the various facets of the three dominant political philosophies in play in the Republican Party of Iowa, perhaps now I ought to discuss why any of this should matter. Perhaps the most important element of any state party process is the development of its platform. In that document, the party as a whole is expressing itself by the various planks that getting offered and ratified by the state convention. How the delegates approach the development of the platform should matter to each of us who will take part in the process. Each delegate will have his or her set of issues that need to be included, but at the end of the day, the document is a reflection of the entirety of the party, not the conservatives, the libertarians or the moderates. The debate should always be focused on defeating the Democrats that are in power, not on selfish, self-serving planks that do little to aid in gaining that end objective.
One area where all republicans can agree is on fiscal responsibility and free markets. There does not seem to be too much difference in how each group looks at our precarious economic situation. What we might disagree on is on much to cut and how fast to cut it. The Ryan plan, as good as it is, is not comprehensive enough for most conservatives. What Ryan offers, on the other hand, is draconian in nature to some moderates. Reducing spending and reforming entitlements is politically dangerous to some. In the end, however, supporting a Balanced Budget Amendment seems an appropriate solution to ensure the Congress has the discipline to restrict itself in what it spends and how it spends it. Similarly, if budget actions take place, so should tax reform. And getting to a point where we can operate with fewer IRS agents instead of more would be much preferred.
The second piece of this topic deals with free markets. By reducing regulation and reining in regulatory agencies, the economy will naturally work more efficiently. Choice, arguably the most powerful word in the English language, is what markets are about. Government should act only to ensure the maximum in competitiveness. The more competitive markets are, the better off consumers are.
On Constitutional issues, the conservatives and libertarians will likely find common cause and will ensure that limited government and individual liberty will be included. Though planks that relate to the repealing of the 16th Amendment and such might get included, which should offend no one, the reality is that such planks express a sentiment more than a demand. Small government is better government and small government will more likely ensure individual freedom.
On national defense, the conservatives and the moderates will make sure the Republican Party of Iowa supports a strong, flexible and robust defense. Protecting America and American interests mean having a military arm that is omnipresent around the world. These forces are not to be used in ill-conceived adventures but only in the interest of the nation. Also, national security includes the borders and what happens inside the nation. Any threat to the nation, regardless of location, must be sought out and eliminated.
On social issues, the moderates and the libertarians will help level the language and logic of the party’s position of life, traditional marriage and the nuclear family. The party will always support these issues, but the Republican tent is a big one that should have room for everyone. Litmus tests on single issues does not seem to be congruent with heritage of the party and where the party might want to go.
Over time, different political philosophies will have more influence than others. This influence will ebb and flow with the mood of the nation and the activity of those who choose to get on the field of play. Because one group or another seems to be “winning” should not be cause for alarm. If anything, it should be a clarion call to become more active in defending one’s own views. Just as primaries are good for party candidates, so are the dynamics of the political season as the party rolls forward toward its national convention.
There is a word of caution, however. When philosophy turns to ideology, particularly in the Republican Party, we have become no better than those we oppose. Ideology—the mutation of philosophy that requires power for enforcement—is dangerous and not worthy of the party of Lincoln. The progressives advance an ideology that is wed to socialism and autocratic, centralized government and governance. Their efforts are to transform society and the nation. Our goal should be to reestablish federalism as our governing structure and to return as much freedom to the people as possible. This can only be accomplished if we remain true to Republican (and republican) principles. See you all in Des Moines.
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