GOP should soften on key issues

The Republican Party can win in 2016 and prevent Hillary Clinton from becoming president if it adopts a campaign strategy emphasizing centralist, limited government positions, and avoiding extremism.

The first thing a Republican candidate should do is to avoid adopting what I call the Salem Witch Trial approach to issues. There were no witches in 17th century Salem, Mass., but people believed there were. Illegal immigration was not a major national problem in 2012, but people believed it was.

Republicans lost the Hispanic vote by demonizing illegal immigrants despite the fact that Mexican emigration out of the USA was growing faster than immigration into America. The great recession had changed immigration patterns, but you would not have noticed it due to Romney’s fear-mongering.

Immigration, legal or illegal, prevented a population decline. Basically, without immigration America would begin to die as a nation. It is also interesting that Hispanic values are very similar to American values of the 1950s in their orientation toward family, hard-work, religion, and patriotism. Hispanics are the fasted growing part of the electorate, are populating regions of the nation that have experience population loss such as the rust belt, and are taking physically demanding jobs such as working in slaughter houses.

The second tactic Republicans should do is to take the Pope Francis approach to social issues, i.e., don’t give up your beliefs but don’t make them the only cause in your life. The Pope is not hostile to homosexuals, but his stance on same-sex marriage takes second place to his efforts to help the poor.

The Republican Party should not emphasize the issue of abortion. The Democratic Party is the party of women’s rights, and the Republicans cannot win the presidency if a majority of women, females being most voters, and especially young women vote in overwhelming numbers for a Democratic candidate. Those who want to return to pre-Roe vs. Wade days and emphasize socially conservative issues will lose.

Republicans should stress instead their politically responsible goals of limited government, fiscally conservative attitudes toward expenditures, and their desire to prevent loss of individual liberties. Republicans do not have to turn into Democrats in order to win. They should use more creative approaches to solving America’s problems without having to abandon their core beliefs about the role of government.

Republicans should try to supplement Democrats as the caring political party. Caregivers, particularly women, see Republicans as a party indifferent to the problems of the poor, unemployed, elderly, and the sick.

Attacks on Social Security are a mistake. I have heard more ignorance about Social Security than almost any other government program. Social Security does not contribute to the national debt, and it is the primary source of income for most elderly. Republicans gain nothing by attacking it, but they would gain a lot by supporting changes to it. The two biggest changes would be to raise the level of income subject to Social Security taxes and propose to make those taxes progressive instead of regressive. Everyone pays the same rate whether you make a million dollars a year or $25,000. Small changes to Social Security funding would be fiscally responsible and carry the system well into the 22nd century.

The clock is ticking on the baby boomers. Virtually all of them will be dead in within 40 years. Social Security does not threaten the nation’s future. It is another Salem Witch issue.

Republicans should not alienate elderly voters by attacking Medicare. Medicare’s impact on the national debt can easily be alleviated by increased means testing for procuring benefits. What’s the big deal? Republicans should not scare voters. They can knock Democrats off their high moral horse.

Obamacare and Medicaid are more complex issues that would require Republicans to develop alternative means to reduce health costs and provide superior coverage for Americans.

Obamacare is having the opposite effect of what was intended. Kaleidoscopic explanations are being offered for its initial failure and unintended consequences. People are losing their insurance coverage, rates are rising for many who purchase their own insurance, job creation is adversely affected as employers reduce weekly hours to fewer than 30 and stop hiring more than 49 employees. Many doctors are refusing to participate, high deductibles encourage avoiding preventive care, and people with more money will purchase better plans. What has been gained?

Republicans should develop an alternative to Obamacare that would be based not on enriching insurance companies by promising them millions of customers. All health insurance companies should be allowed to sell policies within all the states. A person in New Hampshire who finds a better company in Alaska should be permitted to buy his coverage there. That would be in accordance with Republican principles, the free market, and capitalism.

Medicare should be allowed to purchase drugs wholesale directly from pharmaceutical companies and then sell them to plan holders. Obamacare was designed to protect drug and insurance companies in order to gain their support. That does not have to be.

Prior to Obamacare, people without health insurance had to be treated by hospitals and we all had to pay for that. Now with Obamacare, hospitals still have to treat people without health insurance or those who sign up just when they get sick with a terrible illness. I don’t think anything has been gained,

I hope Republicans provide an alternative to Hillary.

Rick Sirvint lives in Rindge.

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