The late-night comic aptly slammed his own party recently by calling them the “party of no common sense.” He’s right; the GOP should campaign as the Party of Common Sense.
President Ronald Reagan was the high priest of common sense, backing sensible positions on environmental laws, school curriculums, defense spending, and other issues. It worked then and it can work today.
Republicans need this; they need to beat back damaging progressive policies driving President Joe Biden and Democrats to self-destruct, and they can. Nothing makes uber-liberals who, for instance, argue that letting criminals out of jail reduces crime, or that feeding trillions of dollars more into a hot economy will slow inflation, look more foolish than old-fashioned common sense.
The GOP also needs to bring their party together on a common platform. Here’s why: the stunning Republican election midterm victories in 1994 and 2010, which party leaders hope to repeat this year, both had a compelling theme that attracted Americans from across the political spectrum and helped unify their own party.
In 1994, two years into Bill Clinton’s presidency, Republicans used Newt Gingrich’s Contract with America to snag 54 seats and take control of the House for the first time since 1954.
Just six weeks before that election, some 300 GOP candidates gathered on the steps of the Capital to sign onto Gingrich’s Contract. The Contract called for a balanced budget amendment, common sense measures to reduce crime, cut middle-class taxes, shrink government and reform welfare. It was a brilliant platform that addressed voter concerns and promised to restore “the faith and trust of the American people in their government.”
In the midterm election of 2010, Republicans pulled off a similarly historic victory, winning 63 seats in the House, six senate seats, and a net six governorships. In addition, GOP candidates picked up 720 state legislature seats, leaving 26 states under GOP control.
That “shellacking,” as President Obama described it, was fueled by the righteous anger of the Tea Party, a grass-roots movement of voters alarmed by the explosion of government spending and huge corporate bailouts that followed the Great Recession. Americans were furious that our business and political leaders had enabled an epic economic meltdown in which millions who had nothing to do with the housing bubble and subsequent collapse lost their jobs.
This year, one year into his presidency, President Biden is floundering and his party is divided; unusually, polling shows voters would prefer Republicans control both the House and the Senate. The stage is set; odds-makers give the GOP a 70 percent chance of taking back control of the House and the Senate, up from 32 percent in July.
Those odds lengthen if Republicans can unify behind a powerful common-sense platform that gives Americans what they want. Joe Biden and other Democrats have totally abandoned the middle road, embracing far-left policies on issues ranging from the economy, school curriculums and immigration to crime. They have given the GOP a dramatic opening.
To take advantage of that opening, here’s what Republicans should offer:
Get America working again.
More than three million fewer workers are on the job today than in February 2020. A critical labor shortage is one of the key drivers of inflation; common sense says we must encourage work. Drop the vaccine mandates that have kept truckers off the roads and nurses out of hospitals. We know vaccines prevent people from serious illness or dying, but since fully vaccinated people can and do become infected and pass on the virus, there is no “public health” excuse for them. Also, Republicans must insist that relief and welfare payments go to the needy and prohibit more large-scale payouts that have kept workers on the sidelines.
Make our streets safe again.
Demand a return to common sense policing and an end to dangerous bail and enforcement policies that let hardened repeat criminals out of jail. The GOP must pledge to make our streets safe again.
Enforce our immigration laws.
Stop the surge of people entering the country illegally by taking away the rewards of breaking our laws. Toughen our border, reduce the benefits and work opportunities available to people who are undocumented and embrace the “Return to Mexico” policy. At the same time, grant Dreamers legal status as resident legal aliens and a path to citizenship. Solve this running sore.
Give parents a choice in their children’s schools.
Establish standards for our schools that guarantee opportunity for all, and demand that failing schools be closed or reformed. Common sense means curtailing the power of the teachers’ unions that oppose accountability by making school choice a reality for all Americans.
Restore Energy Independence.
Return to an “all of the above” energy policy that safeguards the needs of Americans and preserves a critical geopolitical advantage. Encourage a gradual increase in the use of renewable energy in circumstances where doing so does not harm our economy or hurt low-income Americans who bear the brunt of higher gasoline and home heating costs.
Protect small businesses.
Keep taxes low and reduce the red tape burden on all Americans, and especially on small firms that are the backbone of our economy and our cities.
This is not rocket science. Finding common ground, paying attention to the concerns of voters and attracting compromise is not magic; it takes hard work and requires solid arguments. Moreover, it takes common sense.
Joe Biden was elected mainly because he wasn’t Donald Trump and also because he promised to govern as a moderate and to bring the country together. During his first year in office, Biden has utterly betrayed the trust of America’s voters and deserves his own shellacking come November. Branding themselves as the Party of Common Sense, Republicans stand an excellent chance of delivering just that.