The Republican party used to generate actual policy ideas, but no longer.
Now trolling and obstructionist shenanigans are all the GOP cares about.
This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.
In 1994, Americans were presented with "A Contract with America" from Republican Leaders Newt Gingrich and Dick Armey. This policy document was a set of proposals inspired by President Ronald Reagan's 1985 State of the Union speech.. The "contract" was a detailed document of specific policies and actions that Republicans would advance if they took over the majority of the US House of Representatives. Many of these proposals made their way into actual laws.
Fast forward to today's Republican Party, and it's no longer a party of ideas and policy, nor do they even pretend to be.
Instead, the GOP has turned into a party of obstruction. Recently, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said that "100% of my focus is standing up to this administration," meaning that his entire goal was blocking whatever the White House proposes. A few weeks ago, President Biden introduced his anticipated infrastructure plan to the American people, and upon the release of that plan it hit its first roadblock, as the GOP widely panned it.
I will admit there are aspects to the American Jobs Plan that I do not support. For example, I do not believe that child care and caregiving should be part of this bill. It should be a stand alone bill because it has nothing to do with infrastructure or creating infrastructure for the future, such as electric vehicles. However, the Biden plan is the only legitimate one on the table. When President Trump was in office, there were many "Infrastructure Weeks" with no actual plan or any real effort by congressional Republicans to work on any legislation. In fact, during the Trump administration, the term "Infrastructure Week" essentially became a joke to those of us who awaited real action.
Instead of focusing on or proposing ideas to help solve the problems facing the country, the GOP has devoted most of its time and energy to promoting "The Big Lie:" that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump. Republicans even purged conservative leader Rep. Liz Cheney from House leadership simply for refuting that lie.
Republicans once had grand visions for America. Other than the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 and the failed American Health Care Act of 2017, there has not been any significant or bold policy proposal from the GOP. The party has been sluggish in solutions and anemic in answering the calls from Americans to work to move the country forward.
Whether you liked it or not, Republican President George W. Bush pushed for an ambitious plan to reform our immigration system. The Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007 demonstrates that the GOP used to be serious about tackling important issues facing many Americans, and were willing to work with Democrats to solve them. The bill never became law, in large part to opposition on both sides, but the same forces in the Republican Party that helped kill this bill are now the "mainstream" leaders of the party.
In 2005, Republicans and Democrats worked together on a major $286.4 billion transportation bill. The Republican sponsored bill won enormous bipartisan support. It received the support of 412 members of the House to eight in opposition, and passed 91 to four in the Senate. This goes to show that when Republicans put forward sensible policy and aren't afraid to work with Democrats, great things can be accomplished.
It's important to notice that at that time, the Democrats weren't solely focused on obstructing the Republicans. They were willing to compromise with them. Lately, that hasn't been the case with the GOP.
In 2016, when the Republican Party was debating who their nominee should be, we saw that base voters chose to support candidates that offered more sensational soundbites than solutions. Candidates like Governors John Kasich and Jeb Bush were heavy with policy ideas, but the media and the GOP base were more attracted to the chaotic candidacies of Donald Trump and Senator Ted Cruz. Sadly, this laid the foundation for many others in the party to become less serious about policy and more interested in becoming a personality, to the detriment of their part and their constituents.
This desire to become a personality has reinforced the notion that the GOP isn't serious on policy or putting forth any new ideas. Representatives Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene go on Fox News to be incendiary figures who care more about throwing elbows and airing GOP grievances to grow "their personal brand" and bank accounts rather than discussing substantive policy. Sadly, this problem is rotten to the GOP core, as this is what their base wants.
There are some Republicans who care to focus on policy, but as a whole, the party doesn't care to lead on ideas.
While a significant majority of the GOP is focused on extraneous matters like old books from Dr. Seuss, there are people who have been castigated from the Trumpist portion of the GOP that hope to lead the way and unveil a new set of guiding principles. This group, to which I belong, consists of current and former Republicans and should be listened to, as we have the vision to lead a policy-oriented debate, free of Trumpism. We have put out a call for an American Renewal.
The best path forward is to increase competitive incentives for the GOP to recommit to truth, our founding principles, and decency. If ultimately the GOP won't accept our agenda, and continues down this path of conspiracies and anti-democracy, we'll have no choice but to forge a new path.
Read the original article on Business Insider