The Republican Party is a big tent, with varying degrees of conservative thought and principle scattered from progressive and populist thought, to the conservativism of Coolidge, Goldwater, and Reagan. There is no one set of principles one could argue are patently “conservative”. However, the Republican Party must maintain a commitment to a core set of principles if it is to represent more than merely the individuals who control it.
While the Republican Party of Virginia does have its own creed, the creed fails to serve any demonstrable or measurable standard for the Party. While I agree with all of the principles expressed in our creed, it is difficult to measure just how well the party or our elected follow them. It would be simpler if we would state our beliefs in objective terms, such that we could measure how well our representatives live up to them as legislators or executives. The principles which follow are not gospel, nor are they etched in stone. What they represent is a core framework from which a Republican Agenda can be formulated.
Republicans seek to preserve the integrity of the United States Constitution and, in particular, it’s first ten amendments (The Bill of Rights). This is a simple position and if the Republican Party were to adhere to it, there would be no reason for a Constitution Party. Members of the Republican Party, candidates for office, and elected representatives should all be 100% clear that as Republicans they are committed to the preservation of our government as a Republic and that the United States Constitution is the foundation of that Republic. This is, in most cases, already true.
Republicans are fiscally responsible. Republicans should always be looking to ensure that taxpayers are getting $1 worth of service for $1 dollar worth of taxes. Waste and fraud should not merely be the subject of quarterly or annual reports chirped about from the House floor. Republicans should make it a top priority to ensure the integrity of how the taxpayers money is spent. Debt should be referred to as “deferred taxes”. Republicans do not believe in taxing future generations for the excesses of today. Republicans believe in balanced budgets at the local, state, and federal level. On this, our leadership could use a bit of a reformation.
Republicans believe in “Peace Through Strength”. While we understand that there are various philosophies with regard to our foreign policy, we all believe that having the largest, strongest, and best prepared military in the world is the surest way to ensure peace with our neighbors and with all the nations of the world.
Republicans believe in individual liberty and economic freedom. The Republican Party should work as hard as possible to ensure that there are as few unnecessary laws, regulations, fees, taxes, and penalties as possible. While we understand that there is room to disagree about what is necessary and what is not, we are, in general, committed to the preservation of as much liberty as possible. Yes, the Republican Party is the party of Law and Order. That said, the United States imprisons far too many people and the Republican Party should work as hard as possible to ensure that there are no citizens in prison that do not absolutely need to be there. We are not Statists looking to rob the people of their own social and moral independence.
The Republican Party believes in free trade and free enterprise. I will not say more, since the gray area here is too vast, and there is no way to discuss the differences without prejudice.
The Republican Party believes in accountable government. Republicans support transparency in all aspects of legislating and governing. Republicans oppose inequitable and arbitrary laws. The rule of law should apply to members of the government no differently than they apply to the governed. Republicans believe in measuring and monitoring the performance of our laws and federal programs, seeking reform ineffective and inefficient programs and to repeal failing ones.
In short, as Republicans we believe in upholding the integrity of the United States Constitution, in the responsible handling of our nations’ finances, in providing for the security and sovereignty of our nation, in the preservation of our political, economic, and civil liberties, and in holding all of our governments accountable. These are all principles which our party, our leaders, and our elected representatives can be held accountable for. These are not controversial positions and while there remains plenty of gray area, if we strive to achieve these principles, when we err we will not err badly.
The further away our Republican leaders get from their constituents, it would seem, the further away from these principles they become. I would argue that our Republican General Assembly does a much better job at following the principles above than the Republican Congress in Washington, D.C.. Adherence to a set of core principles matters. These principles define the party and protect the party from foreign ideologies.