The fiscal conservative grassroots continue to break new ground. For the first time, the Republican Party has included in its official platform policies chosen directly by We the People.
Last week, we learned the GOP accepted 11.5 of the 12 planks of the Freedom Platform, a document developed by grassroots activists outlining the boldest, most important policy proposals for the limited-government movement.
Activists across the country cast more than 1.2 million votes in an online survey, in which they were asked to choose between randomly selected pairings from an extensive, crowd-sourced
list of policy proposals. The survey, combined with input gathered during face-to-face meetings with on-the-ground activists, ensured that the Freedom Platform represented the top priorities for the grassroots in 2012.
Republicans have taken an important and significant step toward once again carrying the mantle of true fiscal conservatism.
The GOP platform will include almost every plank of the crowd-sourced Freedom Platform. In other words, 95 percent of the grassroots’ top priorities are being adopted as priorities for the Republican Party.
Thanks to the efforts of an engaged fiscal conservative constituency, Republicans have committed to repeal ObamaCare and pursue patient-centered reforms that return the decision- making power from the government back to doctors and patients. The Republicans are also committed to stopping the impending tax hikes, reversing the Obama spending spree, implementing accountability for balancing the budget, and restoring fairness to our tax system by pursuing a flatter tax.
Mirroring the Freedom Platform, the GOP platform strongly rejects cap-and-trade, protects small businesses from the Environmental Protection Agency’s costly over-regulation, and commits to unleashing America’s vast domestic energy potential. The Republican platform also pledges to institute an annual audit of the Federal Reserve.
The only element of the Freedom Platform the GOP didn’t accept was the proposal to eliminate the Department of Education. This proposal was actually a major plank of the Republican
platform from 1980 to 2000, until then-Gov. George W. Bush had it removed. Even so, the 2012 platform contains good language on the need for local control of education, as well as a very strong endorsement of school choice, both of which are key reforms supported by grassroots conservatives nationwide.
The 2012 GOP platform isn’t perfect by any means, but it represents significant progress within the Republican Party in recognizing the importance of embracing bold, fiscal conservative solutions for our nation’s myriad problems. While the Republican Party’s new platform reflects well on its willingness to take a stand for principled policies, it also says a lot about how the Tea Party has grown in lasting political influence.
No longer “just” a massive protest movement or even a well-oiled “Get out the Vote” machine, the Tea Party has matured into a strong, focused policy powerhouse. The success of the Freedom Platform should forever put to rest the ridiculous notion that Tea Party conservatives are incapable of engaging in the mainstream political arena without compromising their principles. Grassroots conservatives stood firmly behind principled policies, and the Republican Party listened.
This victory doesn’t mean the bottom-up campaign of individuals for sound economic policy is over. Tea Partiers are still wary of the establishment, and no political party can ease the grassroots into complacency with platform promises.
We are still watching.
The Republicans have taken an important and significant step toward once again carrying the mantle of true fiscal conservatism. They have made a bold commitment to a large, motivated voting group to protect individual liberty and to lead our nation into recovery with sound economic policy. Now it’s time to make sure they deliver.
Matt Kibbe is the president of FreedomWorks and author of the "Hostile Takeover: Resisting Centralized Government's Stranglehold on America" (William Morrow 2012) Follow him on Twitter at @MKibbe.