#GOPFuture: Tempt me back to the old GOP

 Published August 28, 2012 Link to article

The GOP should cease to be a pseudo-church and once again become a broad-based organization like the party of Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower. We have seen how the mixture of politics and religion debases both pursuits, turning the Republican Party into an apocalyptic sect that indulges birthers, candidates who talk about “Second Amendment remedies,” and those, such as Rep. Todd Akin, who have not caught up with the concept of equal rights for women. It was those kinds of antics that caused me to end a 28-year career in Congress and become a political independent.

abortionA modern, retooled GOP should be a genuine party of fiscal responsibility. During President Bush’s administration, the national debt nearly doubled, as the party undertook a reckless program of tax cuts combined with runaway spending such as the prescription drug entitlement. The GOP squandered a big budget surplusin 2001, in part by spending nearly $1 trillion in Iraq, and turned it into an intractable deficit by 2008. But suddenly, after President Obama’s inauguration, Republicans noticed the debt had gotten out of hand. Yet candidate Mitt Romney’s fiscal plan includes $6 trillion in tax cuts with few details about how to pay for them. This fiscal irresponsibility can’t continue.

A reformed GOP would be a party of fiscal discipline and shared prosperity. Shared prosperity means returning to the Republican wisdom of an earlier age: the support of our industrial base against unfair foreign competition, and better wages for working Americans. The GOP of the past 30 years has thrown that tradition overboard for the sake of discredited theories of “free trade” and, as a result, middle-class incomes have stagnated. Our present tax policies actually incentivize leveraged buyouts, outsourcing and offshoring. This must end.

But while better tax policy towards domestic manufacturing will help, we cannot be fully competitive in a global economy without educated citizens. Abraham Lincoln founded the land grant colleges that became our state university system. After the launch of Sputnik, Dwight Eisenhower created science and engineering scholarships. But now, Republican politicians routinely denounce climate science, stem cell research for new disease cures, and even the teaching of evolutionary biology. But the rest of the world is not standing still, and an anti-intellectual party can neither devise workable education policies nor lead America into a prosperous future.

Finally, a retooled GOP would advocate a more rational foreign policy. Candidate Romney has not learned from the debacle in Iraq: He advocates spending an additional $2 trillion on the Pentagon— which will be added to the nation’s credit card — while he carelessly declares Russia our “No. 1 geopolitical foe.” We can afford neither the expense nor the enemies that his policies would bring us.