Editor's note: This op-ed is based on a speech Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus delivered on Thursday, October 2, 2014 at the George Washington University.
With 32 days until Election Day, it’s clearer than ever that Americans aren’t happy with the president or his party. Far more Americans disapprove of the job President Obama’s doing than approve—as has been the case for almost a year and a half. His signature policy, ObamaCare, is as unpopular as ever.
Republicans offer an alternative, and Americans know we oppose many of the president’s policies. Yet as Americans head to the polls, it’s important that voters know not just what we oppose but also what we support. To that end, I have released the Principles for American Renewal, eleven core principles that unite Republicans across the country and up and down the ballot.
As a party, our overarching vision is a country that offers equal opportunity for everyone. In pursuit of that vision, our party’s three values have long been a strong economy, a strong society, and a strong defense. The Principles for American Renewal fit into those three categories and cover eleven vital topics.
I outlined these in detail in a speech on October 2.
Number one: Our Constitution should be preserved, valued and honored.
Our Constitution is the source of “American exceptionalism.” It’s the wisdom of our Founders and the foundation of all good policy.
The practical effect of a commitment to the Constitution is restoring power to “we, the people.” From our work to eliminate poverty to our efforts to improve education and healthcare, states need the ability to respond to their residents’ needs. This doesn’t just make Constitutional sense, it should be common sense.
Number two: We need to start growing America’s economy instead of Washington’s economy so that working Americans see better wages and more opportunity.
Over-taxing and over-regulating create jobs for the wrong people: Lobbyists and bureaucrats in DC. As money pours into D.C., they take jobs away from the people that need them: Middle class moms and dads, young people just out of high school or college, and minority communities where unemployment is above average.
Number three: We need to pass a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution, make government more efficient, and leave the next generation with opportunity, not debt.
We are leaving each child born today a share of our almost $18 trillion dollar national debt, a debt for every child that’s over $55,000. How is that fair?
Today, businesses run more efficiently. Our homes run more efficiently. Yet our federal government gets bigger, slower, and more expensive. It makes no sense. We can apply some 21st century efficiency to 20th century bureaucracy, save money, and balance the budget.
Number four: We need to start over with real healthcare reform that puts patients and their doctors in charge, not unelected bureaucrats in Washington.
We need healthcare solutions that reduce costs, provide greater access to world-class care, and give Americans more control over their healthcare decisions, but ObamaCare gave Washington, DC, more control over our healthcare—and patients and doctors less. It also failed to make healthcare more affordable.
Number five: Our veterans have earned our respect and gratitude, and no veteran should have to wait in line for months or years just to see a doctor.
Other scandals and issues have knocked the VA out of the news now, but that doesn’t mean everything’s fixed. Republicans will be vigilant to ensure that the VA gets its act together and no one who risks their life for our country dies waiting to see a doctor. The most important thing is making sure veterans get the care they need. It shouldn’t matter if it’s in a VA facility or not.
Number six: Keeping America safe and strong requires a strong military, growing the economy, energy independence, and secure borders.
The federal government has no greater responsibility than keeping us safe.
With ISIS, we face an enemy who wants Americans dead and our way of life destroyed. We need leaders who will defeat terrorism, not manage it. We need leaders who will act decisively, not downplay the threat as “JV.” We need leaders who will take responsibility, not blame the intelligence community. This is no time to weaken our military.
Number seven: Every child should have an equal opportunity to get a great education; no parent should be forced to send their child to a failing school.
Educational access is the civil rights issue of our day, and school choice is one of the most effective ways to expand access. We want more ways to help disadvantaged kids get out of bad schools and into good ones. That’s why Governor Kasich of Ohio quadrupled the number of EdChoice scholarships in his state. That’s why Louisiana expanded its scholarship program under Governor Jindal.
Number eight: The best anti-poverty program is a strong family and a good job, so our focus should be on getting people out of poverty by lifting up all people and helping them find work.
We need an effective safety net, but the federal government’s anti-poverty programs have become mismanaged and ineffective. We should restructure and consolidate them, give more power to the states, and actually measure the results. Doing the same old thing gets the same old results. 45 million of our fellow Americans are living in poverty.
Number nine: Our country should value the traditions of family, life, religious liberty, and hard work.
These values make our country great. We need to fix the policies that discourage marriage. We need to support a culture of life. We need to fight for protecting the rights to free exercise and free expression. And we need to uphold the value of hard work, which we pass on through our families and communities, and which built our country.
Number ten: We should make America energy independent by encouraging investment in domestic energy, lowering prices, and creating jobs at home.
America is blessed with abundant resources. What we don’t need is Washington, DC, picking and choosing what energy we can use. We have to build the Keystone Pipeline. It’s good for jobs and national security. Democrats say they don’t want that oil because they don’t want to burn fossil fuels. But opposing the pipeline means the oil gets shipped to China. And I can promise it’s not getting over there in a Prius.
Number eleven: We need an immigration system that secures our borders, upholds the law, and boosts our economy.
Border security must come first. The humanitarian crisis at the border made that clear. The president’s plan to overlook the border crisis and act unilaterally to rewrite our immigration laws is unacceptable and unconstitutional. His plan to make further changes to the system after the election will only make any fix harder. We can’t reward those who break the laws, and we need to make sure America remains a place where people aspire to work and dream to live.
If anyone asks, “How’s the Republican Party going to work for me?” these principles are part of the answer. They’re not everything. Other leaders have also put forward their positive agendas that uphold these principles. While one election won’t fix everything, we can take a step in the right direction this November. If the American people hire us, we’ll be ready on day one.