Straight from print: Reconciling with the Republican Party
How the party can move forward with a conservative agenda in the wake of a Trump presidency
This article originally appeared in The Eagle’s December 9 print edition.
Looking back on this election, it has been a rough year and a half to be a Republican woman. Facing ridicule from every side, listening to your party’s nominee criticize women and trying to choose between compromising your values and voting for necessary change at the ballot box was maddening.
However, it is over now. The next President of the United States will be Donald Trump, and it is time for the nation to face that reality and move forward with a positive agenda for change.
Although I did not vote for or support Donald Trump during his presidential run, I wish him the best in office and I truly hope he governs well. Praying for his failure at this point does not hurt his reputation, but the American people as a whole. That is why we must be cautiously optimistic: we must support him and guide him on a path toward righteousness while at the same time be willing to criticize his administration when necessary.
Further, President-elect Trump will be complemented by both a Republican House and Senate, not to mention 33 Republican governors, 26 states under the control of both GOP executive and legislative branches and six state legislatures controlled by Republicans with Democratic governors. This is the GOP’s moment, and the party must deliver if it wants to maintain and grow party support in 2018 and 2020.
To do this, I recommend the following conservative policy proposals to limit government power, control spending, cut government waste and prove that success can be achieved under a Republican government.
Step 1: Reform the criminal justice system
One of the most corrupt institutions in American government is the criminal justice system. It is designed to over-incarcerate low-level, nonviolent offenders. Upon leaving prison, these offenders cannot successfully find a job due to their criminal records and become dependent on less-than-legal means to make ends meet. Often, they are reincarcerated and enter a viscous cycle known as “recidivism.”
This issue disproportionately impacts minority groups, and it must be stopped. Moreover, the entire system costs a tremendous amount of unnecessary tax dollars (an additional $42 million in 2017 from FY2016) and needs to be consolidated and reformed immediately. To address these issues, a bi-partisan coalition of representatives has already proposed several bills to reform them.
Another way to improve the criminal justice system would be to expand programs that assist ex-felons in finding jobs after leaving prison. Companies like Apple, Hilton Hotels and Chick-fil-A hire returning citizens to begin reintegrating former felons into society. By using public-private partnerships with these and other companies and vocational organizations, the government can prevent the cycle of incarceration from continuing to plague our system, destroy the family and consume our tax dollars.
Step 2: Simplify the tax code and loosen ridiculous regulations
There are areas in Trump’s tax proposal where taxes among certain higher-level income groups will be higher than under Clinton’s plan, according to the Urban-Brookings Institution Tax Policy Center, a center-left tax policy group. This is significant because Clinton claimed she would use taxes to crack down on the upper class.
Scholar Leonard Burman notes, “Trump’s 33 percent top rate kicks in at a fairly low income level for singles: $127,500 in 2017.” The Trump tax plan could generate more levels of revenue. It would remove personal exemptions and tax breaks which would consolidate the current 74,608-page-long federal code, making it more fair. If he implements this plan, it will cut the burden of taxpayers while not letting off the wealthier economic groups from contributing a sizable amount of income in taxes.
It would also consolidate and simplify the tax code. By simplifying the code, this would allow Americans to better understand how the federal government collects tax dollars. If Trump goes through with implementing this plan, it would save Americans a lot of time, money and headaches trying to understand all the loopholes and tax breaks in the system of which big businesses take advantage.
Step 3: Create an environment inclusive to all Americans
Often, the political left claims that the GOP is waging a “war on women.” However, 42 percent of Donald Trump’s voters were women, especially college-educated white women, 49 percent of which voted for the billionaire. This happened despite Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s emphasis on Trump’s history of bragging about sexually assaulting women. The monumental question is why these women still voted for him, and unfortunately, I don’t think we’ll have an answer until we actually ask these voters. Usually, these types of allegations kill political careers, such as was the case with Anthony Weiner. And yet, it has not derailed Trump.
The GOP needs to emphasize the benefits of limited government for minorities. While protections are necessary to ensure that discrimination is prevented, all people can be most empowered by freedom, not the state. The GOP has this platform, but it does not use it. To better project this ideal, Republicans should be more open to comprehensive immigration reform that opens the door to increasing legal immigration. Further, women could greatly benefit from voluntary Personal Care Accounts that encourage financial saving for leave time. Pre-tax dollars would be saved in this PCA, and it would be used to replace or supplement income during periods of leave. This would help the problem of paid leave or medical issues. Women and minorities in the GOP also need to be louder and prouder, stand up in the name of limited government and run for office.
Although I remain cautiously optimistic, I truly hope that the Trump administration is successful in its endeavors-not just for Republicans, but for all Americans. If he fails, we will all have to live with the consequences.
Krista Chavez is a junior in the School of Public Affairs and a columnist for The Eagle.