New ideas are actually dangerous for Republican success. It is much better for us to fall back on proven ideas that have been tested by time. I think life is too short to be the philosopher who creates winning ideas and the bright person who puts these ideas into action. Although these ideas are timeless, they can still be fresh and useful if we demonstrate how they apply to contemporary circumstances. Here’s a couple of the best ideas I can offer:
1. Break Big Bills Into Smaller Bills: The huge health care reform bill was so big it was impossible for voters to hold members of Congress responsible for their decisions. Accordingly, one ideal approach for Republicans is to be the party that “restores the power of Congress” by seeking to create and enforce rules that prevent future omnibus legislation. This tool would also improve the accountability of the President too, since it would be possible to understand what he or she is signing into law or subjecting to veto.
2. If Affirmative Action Isn’t Wrong…Then Nothing is Wrong: Affirmative action has been a disaster on a number of fronts. It reduced the self-confidence and worth of the people who benefit from it. It causes under-prepared students to fail when they might do better in a different environment. It creates hostility and anger that – in my experience – never really goes away. To suggest that people just get over affirmative action is part of the myth used to defend this unjust policy. The question I like is why should an asian be disadvantaged compared to a latino because of what a white person’s ancestor did to a black person’s ancestor? Here in California, for example, the affirmative action policies which harmed my career as a young academic are now illegal.
3. Pain is Good: It is physically impossible for a social system to survive without the harsh lessons taught by reality. In this sense, Republicans can be the party that says that pain is a good thing when it motivates a drug addict or an alcoholic to make changes in their lives. The threat of pain does more than any feel good program to bring human behavior into line with positive mutual outcomes. This means that we should not get in the way of the natural and instructive pain (and shame) caused by carelessness, business failures, teen pregnancy, unemployment, alcoholism, and drug use. Pain protects us from even worse outcomes and Republicans in Orange County and elsewhere should be embracing it as a secret of local, national and international success. A pain-free society will naturally become a failed society.