GOP: Rebirth or Capitulation?
Republicans lost royally in the presidential race. They stand to lose even more when the GOP leadership offers up revenue (i.e., more tax payments) in a grand congressional bargain to stave off the fiscal cliff.
In the 25 states where Republican governors will have the fortune on January 1, 2013,of serving alongside an undivided legislature, the GOP has an historic, last chance opportunity to redeem their public commitment to setting a free nation on the path to economic prosperity.
This is the GOP test.
Given the opportunity, will Republicans reduce the scope and size of government? Liberate educational institutions from totalitarian ideology? Thwart illegal immigration from countries whose political culture is antithetical to 'rule of law' and 'individual freedom'?
For Republicans, restoration of personal freedom is the golden ring. Nothing short of a wholesale rejection of the socialist takeover of public institutions will lead to a retraction of governmental intrusion in people's lives.
The same authoritarian education, regulatory, and immigration agenda consuming the federal bureaucracy defines the culture and economy of the states. This is an unfortunate national development because the federal government, from a constitutional perspective, should be more narrowly focused.
Nevertheless, the oppressive relationship of national and state politics provides an opportunity for Republicans to challenge the efficacy of national Democratic policies by showcasing their respective policies at the state level. Consider how Romneycare, the Massachusetts takeover of health decisions for millions of state citizens, morphed into the blueprint for the national healthcare plan for America. Why not launch a state demonstration project for the Republicans?
North Carolina provides the perfect petri dish for testing the Republican platform of lower taxes, smaller government, and individual responsibility. North Carolina has what many 'red' states do not -- municipalities brimming with a highly educated citizenry, a large and growing population, rich resources and high-tech industries. Despite high levels of illegal immigrant activity, North Carolina does not have the political complexity of the border states of Arizona and Texas.
Does the Republican Party in North Carolina have the fortitude to put policies in place which ensure greater individual freedom for Americans -- tax reductions, nonpartisan educational institutions, and rigorous efforts to deter illegal immigrants?
A classically liberal Republican Party fighting for its life and soul of the nation would, in North Carolina:
1) Decrease tax revenue (e.g., eliminate the personal income tax).
2) Prosecute illegal immigration (e.g., reject public education, dual language requirements, and welfare for noncitizens).
3) Inject a competition of ideas into K-12 public schools (e.g., waive certification requirements for teachers, p)rincipals, superintendents).
4) Reclaim a states right previously abdicated to the federal government (e.g., reject the national core curriculum for K-12 education).
The most important problem in America today is a shift in political culture, not an economic recession. America used to have an enduring political culture built on the principles of a constitutional republic, rule of law, liberty, and equal opportunity. We could debate as Democrats, Republicans and Libertarians as to the nature of specific government policies, and retain a consensus on political principles.
Today, the heretofore dominant political culture has been viciously attacked by the educational establishment , entertainers and journalists, aided by the massive influx of immigrants who do not share this culture. The result? A bifurcation of the populace, made all too apparent during the presidential election, demonstrating that the traditional, American political culture is being successfully challenged by one built on the socialist principles of economic equality, diversity, global dominance, and elitism.
The North Carolina GOP has a challenge ahead of it. The corrosive impact of socialist dogma caused it to bleed purple after it narrowly won the General Assembly in an historic mid-term election in 2010. Failing to capitalize on this fortuitous shift in political power, the North Carolina GOP passed watered down Democratic policies, diversity preferences, gas tax increases, and selective benefits for special groups; increased budgets, and; most importantly, retained thousands of socialist-minded administrators in state institutions who vengefully tacked so far left that the Republican 'takeover' proved detrimental to the individual freedoms of North Carolinians.
Mindful of the impending capitulation of the national GOP, will the state Republican leadership maintain crony pilfering of the state coffers with contracts awarded to favored legislators and business enterprises? Enflame the sensitivities of thousands of Democratic state bureaucrats whom they fail to replace? Hire friends and connected special interest agitators to run state agencies? Tinker with the tax code? Fight endless battles over marginal expenditure cuts? Waste valuable political capital in lieu of attacking the immigration crisis head on? In other words, play defense to Democrats and the media while squandering an historic opportunity?
If the GOP cannot successfully govern in North Carolina, then the gig is up. The stunning loss of the presidential election requires that the GOP demonstrate, not for the Democrats, but for Republicans, that they are worthy of their continued support.
Nationally, Americans will tune in to see how Republicans govern stateside in the Dakotas, Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Utah, Arizona, Oklahoma, Texas, Alaska, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin, along with North Carolina. A full 50 percent of the American states are free to follow an unabashed GOP-endorsed agenda.
Will state Republicans suit up in the momentous battle for freedom?
Dr. Marguerite Creel teaches public administration at UNC School of Government. She is the former Political Science Coordinator for Peace College in downtown Raleigh, NC