December 23 2013
Solutions Oriented Conservatism
Much is being made of the infighting between tea party Republicans and what people call "establishment" members of the party. National Journal even developed a handy chart showing the differences between tea party and non-tea party members. Liberals love this sort of thing and are no-doubt thrilled that the media is focusing on this distraction instead of the dismal state of the economy, the continued failure of Obamacare and the many other, more newsworthy issues. But last week, over on The Hill newspaper, April Ponnuru has some interesting commentary, suggesting that instead of spelling doom for conservatism, this infighting might be creating a rare opportunity to find real solutions to the nation's problems.
Liberalism has discredited itself through overreach and incompetence. Most Americans think the country is headed in the wrong direction under liberal rule. Gallup shows 78 percent of the public dissatisfied with the state of the country. Trust in government is at a staggeringly low 19 percent according to the Pew Research Center.
Health care was supposed to be the issue that made Americans return to the big-government fold. Instead, Obamacare has had exactly the opposite effect, confirming people’s suspicions about the ability of government activism to improve their lives.
To seal the deal against liberalism requires one more thing: that people come to see not only that its policies make things worse, but that there are ways to address our practical problems by limiting government and freeing markets. Americans need to see, that is, that conservatism’s sound principles lead to real solutions.
Fortunately, that’s exactly what conservative policymakers are demonstrating. In the states, conservative governors like Wisconsin’s Scott Walker, New Jersey’s Chris Christie, and Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal are balancing budgets without tax increases—and sometimes cutting taxes.
In Washington, D.C., too, solution-oriented conservatives are breaking through the stale debate between “the establishment” and “the tea partiers.” They’re not trying to make deals for their own sake, and they’re not just trying to advertise their philosophical purity either. They are identifying the public’s concerns and showing how policies based on conservative insights can address them. In short, they’re demonstrating how to govern conservatively.
Conservatives in Congress have long offered solutions to the problems of high energy costs and weak job growth. They have tried to let energy exploration and development, including the vital Keystone XL pipeline, go forward—and our YG Network polling suggests the public is with them. Now some in Congress are seeking to broaden and deepen that popular conservative agenda.
Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) is pushing for tax relief for middle-class families. Most Americans know that raising children is the most important investment in the future that they make. The tax code does not recognize that truth. Lee’s idea is not only solid policy, our polling demonstrates that the proposal enjoys a broad base of support, including from groups with whom conservatives have often had difficulty connecting.
Read her entire piece here.