Re-establishing GOP as party of freedom, opportunity

Original Article

With the majority of American people holding Washington in low esteem bordering on disdain, November elections will hopefully provide a corrective. According to Gallup, CBS/New York Times, and ABC/Washington Post, more than 80 percent of Americans polled disapprove of the job that Congress is doing. The Republican Party that controls the House of Representatives has been labeled “the party of no.” But that characterization is equally applicable to the Democratic Party where in the Senate, under Harry Reid’s leadership, 150 jobs related bills passed by the House have been tabled — preventing any policy debate or vote.

The views of Republicans as the party of rich white elitists and Democrats as the party of the common people are obsolete, even absurd. Data from, which tracks federal campaign contributions and lobbying, shows that the GOP has lost out to Democratic Party fat cat contributors by $416 million over the last 25 years. Twenty of the top 32 political donors lean Democratic, while only six lean Republican, with the remaining being independent.

David Horowitz and Jacob Laksin think the funding disparity favoring progressives is even greater. In their recent book, The New Leviathan, they estimate that the Republican Party is outspent in politics by nearly 7-to-1, based on all the factors and indirect benefits the Democratic Party gets from the nonprofit sector, left-wing activism, public and private sector unions, Wall Street banks, universities, Hollywood and the media.

Diverse polls show that Americans who identify themselves as conservative outnumber those who identify themselves as liberal by a wide margin. It follows then that in vote-buying, liberals spend far more than do conservatives. Which is another way of saying that the general message of conservatives is an easier sell than that of liberals. Money is always important, but what’s vital is having policies and ideas that resonate with the majority, and then aligning campaign messaging so the electorate really gets it.

The combination of the unpopularity of Obamacare and the boom provided by energy resource discovery and technology-driven recovery provide a historic opportunity for the GOP to re-brand itself and educate the electorate in three areas of economic public policy.

Republican candidates would do well to reestablish the GOP as the party of freedom and opportunity. A good start is to hammer home how Obamacare was not just an ill-conceived policy that was poorly implemented, but also a political scheme to expand control over peoples’ lives designed by Democratic Party elitists in Washington. No tinkering with a bad law. Obamacare needs to be repealed and replaced by reform that increases health coverage choices; improves quality and reduces costs through competition, tort reform and medical savings accounts; allows access to insurance providers across state lines; and provides for portability of coverage independent of employer.

Next, the GOP should focus on energy, and re-brand itself as the party of energy independence for the U.S. within five years. Continuing support for alternative energy is important. But the responsible opening up of federal lands to modern and safe drilling technologies to develop vast new stores of oil and gas will immediately reduce energy prices and increase tax revenues. Jobs would not only be created in the drilling and energy service industry, but in new energy-intensive manufacturing factories being built and relocated in the U.S. — notably in steel, aluminum, cement and chemical production. At the same time, by increasing U.S. energy export capacity, threats from the Middle East and Russia would be diminished.

Third, the GOP should re-brand itself as the party of the entrepreneur. Tax credits to encourage innovation, capital investment and repatriation of foreign-held capital in large companies have broad appeal. But it is small business enterprise that is the Republicans’ natural constituency if they champion reform that includes tax simplification and the reduction and elimination of time-wasting and counterproductive regulations.

In short, the corrective that the majority of the electorate wants revolves around everyday interests that diverge from the narrow issue choices and priorities of Washington’s special interests. By re-branding itself around common sense economics, the GOP can drive the real corrective this November with successful candidates who put the people’s interest first in three areas that really matter. Combining newfound American energy resources with entrepreneurial creativity would be a national and global game changer — delivering greater prosperity and national security for all Americans.

Scott S. Powell

Senior Fellow, Center on Wealth and Poverty
Scott Powell has enjoyed a career split between theory and practice with over 25 years of experience as an entrepreneur and rainmaker in several industries. He joins the Discovery Institute after having been a fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution for six years and serving as a managing partner at a consulting firm, RemingtonRand. His research and writing has resulted in over 250 published articles on economics, business and regulation. Scott Powell graduated from the University of Chicago with honors (B.A. and M.A.) and received his Ph.D. in political and economic theory from Boston University in 1987, writing his dissertation on the determinants of entrepreneurial activity and economic growth.