“A house divided against itself cannot stand.” Abraham Lincoln originally spoke these prophetic words in 1858 when describing the looming threat of the Civil War.
Today, we Republicans should heed this warning as we look ahead to the challenges of the future – both for our Party and the country we all love.
At this moment in time, the American people overwhelmingly agree with Republicans on the fundamental issue of next year’s elections: ObamaCare.
Because of the federal health care law, premiums and deductibles are increasing. Medical options, patient choice and competition are decreasing. The taxes that fund the law are clicking in, and insurance companies have already started dropping doctors from their Medicare Advantage coverage as a result of the $717 billion dollars in cuts.
As the old saying goes, good policy makes for good politics, and the inverse holds true as well.
So it’s not surprising that polling data across the board shows that ObamaCare is universally unpopular. Nearly four in five people blame it for the negative impact to their current health insurance. Even 56 percent of the uninsured – the very people who are supposed to benefit from the new law -- disapprove.
Right now, we need to stop fighting about who is more conservative on this issue and stand united as a party and focused like a laser on winning next year’s elections.
Without a Republican Senate in 2014 and a GOP president in 2016, we have no chance of getting rid of ObamaCare, which would spell disaster for the future of our health care system, our economy and our country.
Now is not the time for litmus tests or ideological arguments. The argument next year should be framed up in stark terms: Republican candidates will work to dismantle the health care law and return the power to the states where it belongs, and where health care can be delivered cheaper and more efficiently.
I think we all know by now that Democrats will continue to stand by their support for the status quo and vow to protect and preserve ObamaCare. They will do so at all costs.
Simply put, the upcoming elections are a referendum on those who voted for ObamaCare and those who tried to stop it.
We’ve seen what happens when we hold our candidates to the standards of purity.
In 2010 and 2012, deeply flawed candidates emerged victorious from contested primaries by running hard to the right, only to find themselves unelectable in the general election, and ultimately leading to Harry Reid padding his Democratic majority.
There are encouraging signs that we’ve learned from the mistakes of the past. Recent news reports have described the efforts of Republican challengers training their fire primarily on the problems of ObamaCare. They are aggressively framing up the choice for voters between a Republican who will get rid of the new law and a Democrat who will support it.
Democrats would love for nothing more than for us to spend precious time and resources fighting amongst ourselves on unrelated issues. Indeed, this remains their best hope for avoiding a total wipeout at the ballot box next year.
If we aren’t able to come together and stand united around our core principles, the future of both our country and our political party is bleak.
We’ve seen a glimpse of unfettered Democratic rule of Washington in 2009 and 2010 when President Obama, Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid ruled D.C. with unchecked power. They rammed through their agenda of big government, higher taxes, more spending, the wasted trillion dollar stimulus and perhaps worst of all, ObamaCare.
We can’t afford to let the minor issues that divide us distract us from the vast majority of things we all agree on: lower taxes, limited government, personal freedom, less spending and a strong and vibrant economy fueled by the private sector and our hard-working entrepreneurs and risk-takers.
If we can’t unite around these core principles, Republicans risk becoming an increasingly irrelevant permanent minority until we fade into oblivion, much like the Whigs in the days of Abraham Lincoln.
Once we win the majority and the White House, we can set about enacting our agenda and putting this country back on the path to fiscal prosperity again.
That agenda includes at its core a belief that the private sector -- not big government or politicians in Washington -- is the key to economic growth, and that sometimes government needs to get out of the way so Americans can realize their true potential.