With only hours left in the 2014 elections, Republicans are still unable to frame or even address the issues of greatest concern to their constituents. Just last week, in anticipation of a likely GOP win of the Senate (in spite of their best efforts to stay a minority party), Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) was a guest on National Public Radio discussing the policy goals of his party if they are successful in November. What I heard reminds me how the GOP became a minority party and how it appears poised to remain that way in the foreseeable future.
In the interview, Barrasso took typical Republican positions on immigration, minimum wage, and taxes and defended those views from a "pro-business" perspective.
On immigration, Barrasso argued that the GOP was opposed to amnesty because a majority of his members felt it wasn't good for the economy in general and most of their constituents have vocalized opposition. Meanwhile, he had a great opportunity to discuss the fact that those hardest hit by unemployment -- including minorities, the low skilled, and young people -- are already having a difficult time competing for jobs without allowing untold numbers of undocumented workers to pursue the limited opportunities available.
On the minimum wage front, he argued that businesses simply cannot afford to pay more than they are today, when he could have just as easily focused on the huge numbers of jobs that are lost when minimum wage goes up. The Wall Street Journal asserts that over 500,000 jobs would be lost if the President's minimum wage pursuits are successful. Equally bad is the fact that such wage increases do not happen in a vacuum. They have a ripple effect that can be far reaching on the economy. Those who don't lose a job will find themselves paying more for their purchases because the cost of all goods and services includes wages. Raise the wages and watch the prices going up.
This failure to discuss these issues from the perspective of average voters makes the GOP appear tone deaf and out of touch with average voters.
I don't understand why Republicans do not make an "every man" argument for less government. Since government is controlled by the powerful, the powerful are served first and foremost by government. In fact, government by its very nature is for the powerful. Therefore, the weaker the government, the more powerful are individuals.
I witnessed this firsthand when I spoke in universities in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe after the fall of Communism. Decades of total government control led to the creation of well defined and very separate economic groups. Climbing up the economic ladder was not only discouraged, but essentially prohibited. The United States is evolving in the same way.
Republicans should be making a case for freedom. A case not build only on efficiency (which rarely resonates with average voters), but on morality. They need to argue that freedom is the right thing for all Americans.
For some odd reason Republicans have used the same message on unbelievers that they used on the choir, yet wonder why their words have fallen on deaf ears. Republicans have allowed their opponents to take the moral high ground, convincing many voters that liberals are compassionate, while caricaturing the GOP as advocates of the economic survival of the fittest. In reality, today's liberals are advocates of the survival of the economically slickest, those most capable of convincing the poor to keep their place and not to rock society's boat. I think that is an argument that could make the GOP a threat to Democrats, but Republicans seem to act as though they would rather stay a minority party.
On the other hand, there is an argument to be made that the GOP doesn't believe in a message of less government. If that is the case, they deserve to stay a minor party.