(This article first appeared in Broad+Liberty)
Most Republicans opposed the Covid lockdowns and mandates. Most Republicans spoke-out against “defund the police.” Republicans warned of the dangers of canceling the Keystone Pipeline — and plans to end the production of gas-powered cars. Republicans have been relentless in making the case against our un-secure southern border, allowing countless undocumented people coming through.
And when it comes to our children, Republicans and their allies have spoken out against Covid school-closures, forced masking and vaccine mandates, boys and girls sharing locker rooms and restrooms, CRT curriculum, sexually explicit books in school libraries, eliminating honors programs, emails directing school staff to keep certain secrets about students from their parents, and teachers discussing their personal lives and politics with their students.
Democrat politicians and their allies have been busy implementing their agenda at every level of government in every facet of our lives. Republicans have been speaking out and fighting back.
And therein lies the problem.
Democrats have been telling us what they are for — their agenda for the environment, economy, criminal justice, education, sex-education, culture and the role of government. What America should look like. They have been playing offense, leading the discussion and setting the agenda. They are “progressive.”
The net effect in the suburbs — communities that are not (yet) solidly Democrat, or Republican — is that Democrats are seen as having an agenda trying to improve or re-imagine every facet of America.
Republicans are seen and heard as the party opposing the Democrats never-ending, wide-ranging agenda. Republicans are the party defending the status quo. Republicans have become the party of “no!” And, at times, it’s an angry “no.”
I’ve written columns, done radio interviews, posted on social media, given speeches and was even called to run for office because I saw the Democrats’ far left agenda, policies and priorities as wrong, even harmful.
It’s not that we disagree on how to accomplish similar goals; it’s that many Democrats and Republicans have very different goals, different visions and different priorities. The unfortunate part for Republicans is that the Democrats have been playing offense in every facet of our lives in ways we couldn’t have imagined even ten years ago.
To win elections and to govern successfully, Republicans need to play offense. It won’t be enough simply to be better at communicating what we oppose, or explaining why Democrat ideas are bad or harmful. Republicans must start with sharing a vision of what America should look like and how we get there; the same for our state and our community — and a commitment that every American should be given the opportunity to succeed.
The Democrats offer a vision of government that can offer everyone everything. There’s always a crisis — and a solution. Another law for this and that. They just need some more money, a few more regulations and another government agency. We may have to pay more money or give up some freedom, but the government will provide and protect.
We must remind our neighbors that a government that is big and strong enough to give you everything they promise is powerful enough to take away everything you need.
The progressive Democrat Party wants to do what President Obama proclaimed: to “radically transform the United States of America.” Republicans rightfully should oppose that agenda, especially when the ideas will make our economy weaker, our nation less-secure and our children less-prepared to achieve the American Dream.
Yet a successful Republican Party must effectively communicate to voters what we are for. Tell them our goals, priorities and plans — what America could and should look like.
We want Americans to have the highest quality of life. We want a vibrant, economically diverse, energy independent, growing economy, with clean air, water and land to grow our food and raise our children — with an ability for our children to learn the skills necessary to do even better than us.
We want our communities and our nation to be safe. We want to be connected with the nations of the world, but never dependent on our enemies. We must be strong enough to defend America, and to aid our allies.
Our ideas are better. They are sustainable principles based in common sense. They are tried and true. Let’s tell our neighbors: we believe that America should be that “shining city on a hill,” where our generation and all children are given the opportunity for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Guy Ciarrocchi is a columnist for Broad & Liberty and Real Clear Politics (PA), and policy and strategic communications advisor—and a softball coach in his 24th season. @GuyCiarrocchi