Saturday, April 4, 2009

What it would take to make me a Republican

One of the classic tests for scientific validity is refutability – that is, what does it take to convince you you’re wrong? My allegiance to the Other Guys isn’t an emotional one caused by fuzzy childhood memories, but because there are anxieties and concerns that I have that the Republican Party aren’t addressing and have chosen to cede the issue almost entirely to the Democrats instead of remaining competitive with alternate solutions: for instance, the issue of the national problem of health insurance, or for solutions to climate change.

1. Propose a plan to make single-payer health insurance affordable to most Americans.

One of the intriguing ideas in Grand New Party: Conservatism that Can Win Again is the idea that economic issues are a kind of social issue, that there are some topics that Republicans have totally ignored that are of great concern to Americans. For instance, the chief Republican financial solution is a call for greater tax cuts, when the majority of Americans don’t receive much in the way of tax cuts anyway, and the concern and anxiety, the real crisis for most Americans that keeps them awake with worry at night, is health insurance.

Instead of just opposing a universal health system of the type proposed by Democrats in 1994, Republicans should be asking themselves what they can do to make single-payer health insurance more affordable and accessible to the point where the overwhelming majority can qualify for it. Part of this involves, at some level, an admission that the system as it currently is, leaves millions upon millions of Americans without coverage.

2. Admit the anthropogenic causes of global warming, and propose market-centered solutions to the problem.

Science is in a state of universal agreement on the human causes of global warming. Obfuscating this issue is a denial of science and reality.

Instead, Republicans should be asking themselves how, as opposed to straight-up intervention, the market itself can be used to correct the problem. One Republican idea was the idea of taxing emissions: taxation based on the number of carbon emissions can be used to provide a real, market-based incentive to switch to cleaner means of operation, all without the necessity of straight-up legislation, for example.

3. Endorse the idea of limited economic protectionism.

I will never entirely 100% believe that deregulation is the answer for economic problems the way a minority of economists do, because protectionism for workers and others is one of the fundamental tasks of a society concerned about the general welfare. The abandonment of child labor and the establishment of the minimum wage are actions that are principled and a responsibility for a civilized nation that seeks to protect the entirety of its citizens instead of just the wealthy as Republicans often do, at least at present.

Where reasonable people can disagree, however, is where protectionism is called for and where it isn’t. What should be the right percentage in the equation of government sanctions to loose and legally unrestrained finance? Instead of being 100% against any type of economic protectionism, Republicans should be in favor of a limited, responsible type that regulates business practices within ethical reason. The entirety of the housing crisis is almost entirely on the onus of banks and unethical lending practices, for example.

4. Adopt the doctrine that military force is only to be used in areas of strong national interest, and have a clear-cut, practical and real goal that can be completed.

The problems with the wars that Bush II and his buddies started is that they forgot the lessons of Vietnam: before committing to war, the United States has to think hard and cold about what it wants and cannot get moral about a conflict. This is part of the reason one of the few Republicans I admire is George Bush Sr.: the first Gulf War was absolutely the best solution to the problem and one of the greatest American victories since World War II. It wasn’t a moral conflict intended to bring democracy or other such nonsense, but dedicated to rational, cold and real objectives: destroying Saddam’s ability to wage war on his neighbors and then leaving him in charge of his snakepit of a country.

5. Dump the Evangelicals and the social “wedge issues”

Are you a white, Christian male? If so, you’re a minority in the United States. The Republicans appeal mainly to you, and it’s for that reason they consistently lose and are often morally and intellectually in the wrong in ways that are not consistent with the tenets of economic conservatism.

This, incidentally, are the totally cynical tenets of the Rovian election strategy: use an issue that splits and breaks apart the American electorate and hope you end up with the bigger piece. This has been one of the nastier, more vicious elements of Republicans in recent times and the least amenable to reason: the use of social issues that do not directly address any problem that voters have (the ultimate example being the rights of adult gay couples) to cause voters to forget issues on which they would be affected personally (health insurance).

Creationism in particular is an absurdity on the level of the Flat Earth. Republicans should not be dignifying this with support. Ironically, Medieval Christianity (and to a lesser extent, Medieval Islam) created the modern scientific, rational worldview, and the embracing of creationism is an appallingly unjustifiable step.

If Republicans don't believe any of the above represent solutions, that's just fine. After all, all that they have to do to continue losing is to just keep on doing what they're doing.

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