What the GOP Says
Terry H. Schwadron
Feb. 4, 2022
Since the constant refrain from Democrats is that Republicans only stand for “no” on anything Joe Biden proposes, here is an invitation to see what the GOP is proposing.
Both House Minority Leader Kevin D. McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) say they have conferred with former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s to devise an agenda that updates Gingrich’s “Contract With America” from decades ago.
As Scalise said, the agenda will be a platform for mid-term elections that will allow Republicans to retake the majority based on what the GOP is for instead of merely running on what they see as Biden’s failures. Plus, it’s good to see something from the party not imprinted with Donald Trump.
Here it is:
· Parents’ input on their kids’ education.
· School choice.
· Economic recovery.
· Securing the border.
· Standing up to “bullies around the world.”
· Keeping kids in school amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
· Holding the Chinese Communist Party accountable for the coronavirus pandemic.
“Those are going to be things that we’re going to be rolling out: You know, a good commitment to America that people can rally around,” Scalise said. “Again, they know how bad the Democrats are. We’re going to win the House back next year by rallying behind a real exciting, bold conservative agenda that people can contrast to what Biden has done to destroy this economy and the make America weaker all around the world.”
Of course, the good news is that it is an agenda, plainly stated and apparently standing for a whole lot of detail that’s not there. Make of it what you will. In the spirit in which they are offered, maybe we’ll hear more details about what Republicans are “standing for” than slogans about these topics during electioneering across the country.
In and Out
You can see a few things missing from the list, all issues that we think are forefront in today’s America.
That might start with ridding us or relatively indemnifying us from the continuing Covid contagion and the frustrating, angering effects of inflation that seems a prime legacy of the pandemic. The Republican agenda doesn’t mention addressing policing, racial inequities, the ongoing attack on voting rights — all issues that progressive opponents put at the top of their agenda. It omits getting to the bottom of Jan. 6 responsibility or a lack of affordable housing or growing hunger or child tax credits. Nor does it list the growing dominance of monopolies, including those in Big Tech, or health care, or environment and climate, issues that various Republicans have also said they might be promoting in some fashion or another.
It skips over whether this is an agenda that MAGA nation might endorse. For that matter, it omits elimination of abortion rights, promotion of yet more gun-carrying proposals and any intelligible foreign policy goals beyond a projection of military strength, which is increasingly in question at the moment.
And it is light on the “how” of all these things. McCarthy said these bullet points have more five-point bullet points behind them.
Parental rights in education may be a fine goal for involvement in the classroom, but the free translation is evident in the continuing rollout in Republican-majority state legislatures to encourage the banning of books with language or ideas that the MAGA faithful find objectionable about sex, gender identity, same-sex legalities, race and religion. The agenda doesn’t say directly that Republicans don’t want suburban, white parents made to feel uncomfortable about historical lessons about race — as we see in Virginia, Florida, Iowa and other states.
School choice is a vote for taking from public school budgets to support private and parochial institutions, something that already seems to be happening through court decisions. Securing the border apparently means the instant disappearance of those thousands of would-be refugees who try to enter the United States’ southern border maybe with more Wall or a full return to Trump policies — even though Biden is following most Trump immigration policing-forward policies even while talking more liberal ones, and numbers are spiraling.
We have no idea what “economic recovery” means, especially as numbers show Biden’s first year with 5.7% growth overall, a huge drop in unemployment, rising numbers of people dropping out of jobs altogether, and, yes, inflation and supply chain issues that are global. Likely it doesn’t mean ending Trump’s tariffs policies, which would drop prices, but acknowledge trade deficits with places like China.
“Standing up to bullies” in the world sounds fine, though someone might want to explain why MAGA Republicans, as opposed to congressional Republican leaders, support neither aiding nor protecting the Ukraine from Russia.
And it never is understandable to me how blaming the Chinese Communist Party for the origins of Covid will result in my world being able to live virus-free.
In short, as both Biden and Trump have learned, there are limits to what any U.S. president can do about disease, economy, climate, even immigration which are global issues.
Give congressional Republicans a check for coming up with a list, however slogan-ish. By contrast, Trump has promoted a single issue — his need to return to power unquestioned about his record, his ethics, his appointments or his legalities.
But take the whole agenda, and it still sounds as if it is pushing against Biden’s shortcomings rather than staking out new grounds to vote For.
Naturally, the issues platform may not matter as much as all the maneuvering going on before the elections.
State legislatures are busy gerrymandering districts on both sides, accounting for the increase in the number of Congress members who are throwing up their hands with current gridlock and division, and simply resigning. There are the Jan. 6 insurrection followers who are running for two dozen or more local seats as election-supervising officials.
There are the dozens of bills turning law to bar people from voting who voted in the last election — whether under the name “voter integrity” or “voter suppression,” depending on your party loyalties. And there are the legislatures who have given themselves the power to overturn results that they don’t favor.
This is a “positive” agenda only crafted for an election campaign, not a governing platform. And it is worth exactly that amount of notice.
It is a disappointment that if this Republican agenda has overall meaning in supporting individualism over any community concern for health, for example, that we don’t address that debate head-on. It’s an important trend, as the dozens of lawsuits being launched nationwide indicate, plaintiffs want to decide as individuals whether they get vaccines, or what books their particular kids get assigned, or to be exempt from the effects of climate or global gas price hikes on an individual basis — without having to have a reason that fits into medical, religious or fact-based exception.
The role of individual in a collective community is a good political debate to invite.
But it would be better if the discussions were based on an agreed set of facts. We seem to be looking at have a wolf’s agenda still in wolf’s clothing.