All across the country, Americans are writing their lists of New Year’s resolutions. Americans are resolved that 2017 is going to be the year they finally get into shape, shed those last ten pounds, or start a new business, among other worthy goals.
But what about politicians? What is Washington resolved to accomplish in 2017?
For Republicans, who won the White House and held their majorities in both chambers of Congress, I have one simple New Year’s resolution to offer, to help shape your agenda and guide your priorities in the New Year.
The resolution? Have the courage to stand by your campaign promises.
Yes, that is easier said than done, but Americans voted for you based on those campaign pledges, and, if this election proved anything, it was that Americans are sick of the status quo. Campaigning on one thing but failing to follow through on that pledge once in office will no longer fly.
So what would it look like if Republicans jointly made the New Year’s resolution to live up to their campaign promises? I have four significant outcomes of this simple resolution.
1. ObamaCare will be repealed. It’s safe to say that no Republican won election this past fall by campaigning with this message: “Maybe, if it isn’t too hard, and if it doesn’t offend any of my colleagues, I will vote to repeal ObamaCare. Maybe.” On the campaign trail, it sounded more like this: “I will vote to repeal ObamaCare.” And “I will end the disastrous health care law. I will vote for repeal!” That was the promise you made. And it was a big part of why Americans elected Donald Trump for the White House and protected the Republicans’ majorities in Congress. Don’t disappoint us here.
2. Border security will be a reality. Enforcing our nation’s current immigration laws and actually getting serious about border security were two issues front and center this election cycle. On the campaign trail, Republicans sounded resolved to enact real border security this time around, and Americans elected you and your colleagues based on that commitment. Show us you’re as serious about enforcing our immigration laws as we, your constituents, are.
3. True tax reform will be enacted. Everyday Americans understand how damaging our current tax code is. When campaigning, politicians often give lip service to the need to reform our tax code with pro-growth policies and a flatter, fairer tax code, but once in office, they rarely take on the issue. Commonsense tax reform is a great place for Republicans to focus their energies in the incoming year.
4. Our trade policies will put America first. For too long, U.S. trade policies have benefitted other countries to the detriment of America. American business owners, job creators, and workers have all suffered from many of our current trade policies. Republicans can live up to their campaign promises by examining each and every trade deal and asking one question: Would this trade deal advance U.S. economic interests, protect our sovereignty, and benefit American workers?
Democrats are often faulted - deservedly so - for their stubborn insistence on doubling down on their failures. Democrats suffer from “the ends always justify the means” viewpoint and a blind devotion to ideologically-driven outcomes that ignore the real world. Early on, when ObamaCare proved to be a disaster, the Democrats said we needed more time and more money to make it work. When the stimulus failed, Democrats said in near-unison that the underlying problem was simply that we had not invested enough money into the stimulus programs. It’s an intellectually lazy argument, of course, that any failure of your ideas is simply a lack of resources - not a flawed underlying premise - but it is the line of reasoning to which the left clings.
Republicans, on the other hand, can often be faulted for the exact opposite tendency. Whereas Democrats in office steadfastly double down on their agenda, regardless of the devastating consequences, real-word experience, or the objections of their constituents, Republicans often jettison their agenda before it has a chance to succeed. Republicans should show the same stubborn commitment to conservatism’s tried-and-true principles as the Democrats show to their misguided and unworkable principles.
Patient-centered health care reform, a simplified tax code, immigration laws that respect the rule of law, and America-first trade policies are not just good politics; they’re also good policies. Republicans would do well in 2017 to remember that one of the best aspects of conservatism (in stark contrast to liberalism) is that our policies work in practice - not just in theory.
Research shows that people are far more likely to stick to their New Year’s resolutions if they commit to a specific set of goals, make a plan to act, and get started right away. Good advice for Republicans in January.