Voices of our Generation: The GOP is Losing Me
by Allan Joseph | University of Notre Dame
If you know my opinions on any of the recent debt-limit negotiations (if you want to call them that), you might be surprised at what I’m about to say.
I wish I could vote Republican.
That’s right. I’m a moderate, but my vision for America looks a lot like what Mitt Romney used to envision when he governed Massachusetts: a socially tolerant nation that used market-based solutions to solve its most pressing moral issues–and a nation that relied on facts, reason and collegial debate to get there. That’s what the GOP used to stand for. But recently, their denial and stubbornness has been shameful.
First it was global warming. When every Econ 101 textbook used a cap-and-trade scheme to put the market toward solving societal problems, the purported defenders of that same free-market theory instead buried their heads in the sand, ignored evidence and cried “Socialism!”
Then it was the healthcare bill. Rather than accepting that major reform was needed and meaningfully participating in a rational debate, the original inventors of the individual mandate refused to acknowledge that the Affordable Care Act was filled with Republican ideas–so much so that many Democrats only begrudgingly accepted the bill–and instead cried “Socialism!”
Now it’s the debt-limit debate. Instead of admitting the simple fact that a failure to raise the debt ceiling would be nothing short of disastrous (which conservative economists firmly believe), many Republicans–including one who has a real shot at the presidential nomination–truly believe that inaction would be beneficial for the country, despite what the chairman of the Federal Reserve and the Secretary of the Treasury say. They honestly think they know better than economists who have devoted their lives to the study of macroeconomics.
The ones who actually wanted to make a deal to raise the debt limit refused to accept deals far more conservative than the ones their so-called hero Ronald Reagan once signed (including a deal called the “mother of all no-brainers”). Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor have refused to yield even symbolic tax increases to the President while accusing him of being inflexible. What’s worse, the self-proclaimed defenders of the free market refused to correct harmful distortions by flattening the tax code to earn political points… that are nowhere to be found, even among their own base. And still, they cry “Socialism!”
Now the Republicans have pushed the country to the brink of the most avoidable economic disaster in recent history. They have refused to govern responsibly even when America gave them power; they would rather pander and mislead. The Grand Old Party has produced some of this country’s greatest presidents: Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan come to mind for me. But while the Republicans continue to exalt their heroes of the past, they don’t see what defined those men. Lincoln didn’t rigidly and reflexively defend the Constitution–he suspended habeas corpus. Reagan didn’t dismiss tax increases out of hand–just the opposite. He enacted quite a few of them. These men were pragmatists. They took the facts as they were and did their best to solve the country’s problems. That spirit is completely missing from today’s conservatism.
I don’t particularly like the Democrats either, but I’m afraid the Republicans have left me no choice. They should be afraid that my generation agrees with me.Allan Joseph is a sophomore Economics and Pre-medical student at the University of Notre Dame. He covers healthcare, the economy, and occasionally, college sports for NextGen Journal.