We have, throughout history, come together in times of crisis to face whatever life threw at us and emerge victorious. So, at this moment, how do we, as a united people, return our country to the miracle that made it the inspiration for liberty around the world? By deciding what the boundaries and limits of government should be and by returning our focus to government of the people, for the people and by the people.
We are all flawed. It is also true that there are good people all around us in every political party. Instead of trying to trash and destroy each other, to survive we must listen, learn and work together.
I chose my political ideology when I moved permanently to Georgia in 1959. I chose the GOP because I heard the principles of conservatism and knew they espoused the foundations of our Constitution. My conviction with that has never changed. I know with certainty I’m a conservative. I believe, however, that conservative principles can and should be embraced by every political identity.
The Republican Party— and every other political group or party– has come to a cross-road. We cannot, any of us, choose to be the party of one screaming voice– nor the party of any one person or issue. For the Republican Party, if it wants to be viable, it we must stop bending to the angry voices of this or that. It must return to what many so-called Republicans have never even heard of— the “Four Principles of Conservatism.” It will not happen overnight, so we must get to work.
I offer each, and how they might be applied today to work for us all.
Low Marginal Tax Rates
- Use as a model the bipartisan 1981 Kemp/Roth legislation.
- To immediately “lift all boats,” replace the current tax code with a simplified tax code without preference for individuals or businesses.
- Create incentives for individual success by exempting taxes on all under the middle-income threshold, and lower tax rates for those with middle income.
- Stop paying out subsidies to the private sector. “Risk Taking” is at the heart of why the free enterprise system works so well.
- Focus on reducing or solving the national debt using the bi-partisan Simpson/Bowles type commission as a model, this time with a mandate that it function as does BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure Commission) with a mandatory simple majority vote.
- With the president and the leaders of Congress working together, create a vision for the entire country (palpable to any political philosophy) like the “Contract with America.” Few Americans could tell you now what was “in” the Contract with America but they understood then and they identify it now by the clarity, unity and focus it represented.
- Call for an “audit” of all government agencies, conducted from outside the government for trust and accountability. Outside vision and analysis is critical and, as with corporate America, could protect and vastly improve the operation of government offices and departments.
- The Department of Defense military complex must be limited and controlled.
Dwight Eisenhower said so in the 1950s and it’s still true.
Strong National Defense
- End, via legislation, “cost-plus overrun” payments to government suppliers.
- End, via legislation, billions spent on the revolving door of retired government employees and military personnel returning to work as consultants.
- For the strength of our national defense, as much as for the strength of character, mind and body of our service personnel and young adults, restore selective service and mandatory military two-year service by all.
- Stop the use of outside contractors.
- Mandate that no military forces will be deployed to foreign soil without consent by majority vote of both houses of Congress.
- History has shown that nations weaken and collapse when citizens believe government should provide anything they want at no charge. The very concept of government of, by, and for the people requires individual r
- Restore the study of American history, civics and government at every level of education. Everyone must understand that our combined national strength has always been ultimately dependent upon each of us.
As fractured as we currently are over many painful and deep social, economic and philosophical issues, we have a way forward. The late Sen. Barry Goldwater gave us a map when he asked, “How Do We Then Serve?” He provided four pillars for the operation of government in a republic. He reminds us, then and now, that most of our national sins and wounds must be healed by society and not government. And the survival of our republic requires we focus on governing the government.
Lower tax rates, limited government, strong national defense and individual responsibility. It really comes down to that. Reduced to these, we can discuss and unite people across the great expanse of political fracture. For those who identify as Republican, it will be a bright “new” Conservative Republican Party where we all understand what “conservative” actually means.
But for all– by reading, listening, learning and rational discourse– it will be a bright “new” United States of America.
Mack Mattingly served as Georgia’s U.S. senator from 1981 to 1987. He is also a former U.S. ambassador to the Seychelles.