The Republican Party has lost control of the White House and both chambers of Congress. It is clearly time for the party to decide how to move on from Donald Trump and what the party’s platform should look like; Republicans need to decide what issues will be central to their platform going into the next election cycle. These policy items should combine successful electoral strategies with core conservative ideals that will stimulate the economy and improve people’s lives domestically while opposing tyranny abroad. In order to improve its image and win elections, the Republican Party should focus on four things: China, rejection of extremism,government incompetence, and the national debt.
The Republican Party’s main foreign policy focus should be the brutal, genocidal, and totalitarian regime of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). First, the US should formally recognize the independence of Taiwan. This would directly oppose the CCP’s territorial claims. The United States should also establish a constant naval presence in the South China Sea, not only to prevent the Chinese government from expanding their territorial claims and defensive positions via artificial islands but also to ensure the free movement of trade in the region. The Chinese do not have the naval power to prevent the United States from enforcing international law in this manner in the South China Sea. Additionally, the United States should economically sanction China for its acts of atrocity against both the Uighur population and the people of Hong Kong. There must be economic repercussions for their actions. While the primary reason for opposing the CCP is the CCP’s acts of horror, confronting the CCP also has electoral benefits. A main component of Trump’s successful campaign message in 2016 was opposition to China. Carefully crafted rhetoric regarding manufacturing jobs will appeal to the blue-collar workers of the Rust Belt. Meanwhile, messaging surrounding China as a military and economic threat to the United States can appeal to a wide variety of voters. Campaigning against threats to American power on the global stage will inspire high turnout among the patriotic rural voters of the Republican base. Meanwhile, rhetoric surrounding the economic threat that China poses will help the Republicans in the key suburban areas that moved away from Trump in the 2020 election. Successfully branding themselves as the anti-CCP party will help the GOP win elections.
One of the key aspects of the platform should be the complete rejection of any radical policies or ideologies. Whether it’s white supremacy or socialism, the GOP should flat out reject extremist ideologies. The GOP spent much of this election cycle trying to paint their enemies as socialist, and it degraded the significance of the term. The term should only be used in cases where it is applicable (such as for Senator Bernie Sanders). By only using it in the correct context, the Republican Party can become less divisive and more effectively combat the actual socialists in American politics. While the GOP spent too much time smearing their opponents as socialists, the Republican Party did not spend anywhere near enough time condemning white supremacy. Trump refused to condemn white supremacists in a nationally televised debate, and it was both abhorrent to any real conservative and deeply harmful to the GOP in the election. For far too long, the Republican Party has allowed the Democrats to claim the mantle of unifiers, and in rejecting all types of extremism the GOP can take the first steps toward claiming that title for themselves.
Highlighting general government incompetence is an old page out of the Republican playbook, but despite being an tried-and-true platform, it holds even more merit these days. Four decades ago, President Ronald Reagan famously said, “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.” A recent example of government incompetence is how governments all across the world wildly mishandled the coronavirus pandemic. Even in normal times, the government has failed in most of its major domestic policy initiatives over the last half century; the war on drugs failed to reduce drug usage, mass government surveillance programs instituted post-9/11 have failed to stop terrorist attacks from Boston to Texas to San Bernardino, and Obamacare has failed to decrease the cost of healthcare. The Republican Party can use government incompetence as arguments for a variety of policy positions, such as opposition to government-controlled healthcare, opposition to gun control, support for religious liberties, support for free speech, and slashing government regulation. By demonstrating government incompetence, the GOP can convince people to vote for Republican candidates who support reducing the role of the government in everyday life.
One of the biggest conservative policy failings of the 2017-2018 period was the complete failure of the Republican Party to pass a balanced budget. During the Obama administration, many Republicans campaigned on reducing or eliminating the deficit and national debt. These campaigns were often quite successful and contributed to the GOP gaining majorities in both the House and the Senate from 2015-2018. However, once the Republicans controlled both the presidency and Congress, instead of eliminating the deficit, the GOP allowed the national debt to balloon during the Trump administration. If the United States continues to allow the national debt to climb, the inevitable result will be rampant inflation. This inflation could undermine the strength of America on the global stage, but more importantly it would greatly reduce the value of the savings of the American people. This would push retirement later for many Americans and force many already retired Americans back into the workforce. Because of these extraordinarily harmful effects, Republicans should commit themselves to never voting for an unbalanced budget again.
Despite the party’s losses in the 2020 election, Republicans made significant gains among minority demographics. The GOP lost because Trump failed to appeal to moderate suburban voters, a traditionally strong demographic for the Republican Party. This platform should help the party to recoup its losses in the suburbs while holding onto its gains among other demographics. As the party looks toward future elections, these four points should serve as the tenants of their platform and their core legislative priorities.
Junior Andrew Thompson is a leader of the Young Conservatives club.