The week so far has been calm by comparison of late. This gives us a moment to sit back and consider some other more abstract points in need of both discussion and time. Last week my colleague W. Sherman set forth a great discussion of the “soul searching” that Iowa GOPers’ will be doing for the coming months and years. With this article, I will expand on that in one specific area, the fiscal v. social conservative argument.
This debate was reignited recently by the now famous appearance of Iowa GOP leader Doug Gross on Iowa Press a few weeks ago. Doug made the point (correctly might I add) that until the Iowa GOP moves back to the more moderate disposition, the party will continue to be in the minority on election night. This is a topic I feel quite strongly about and believe is deserving of many more rounds of commentary and discussion.
I am certain that Doug Gross’s point of view regarding the direction the Iowa GOP should take is the correct one, and the only point of view that is going to push the State Party back into the leadership limelight. The reason for this is simple, as many before me have said, Republicans are great at shaping economic policy and creating sustainable jobs. Additionally, I have always been taught that if you excel at it, don’t stop doing it. It is this sort of fiscally conservative, pro-business attitude that I believe is in line with the general needs and concerns of Iowans.
What is not in line with the state of Iowa is the scarier and arguably darker side of extreme social conservatism. It is this cause within the party that represents its greatest obstacle to victory. Yet, as it has been noted it is this more extreme wing of the party that has been the deciding factor as of late. However, there is no reason for this other than a lack of intestinal fortitude by the GOP moderates (also known as reasonable people) to simply stand up and declare no more!
We have to start thinking of our party in terms of marketing. We must consider all aspects of the product. I know that there are some key social issues that are an intrinsic part of the conservative agenda, and I do not believe anyone wants to do away with those views. At the same time one has to ask if it makes sense to pick party leaders who represent the most extreme views when we live in an increasingly “middle of the road” society. We are not going to reach the youth vote and moderates when we have these sort of extreme and brash people as our brand packaging.
Some might question if this will work. They ask “will this really get people to agree with us?” The answer to this based on the slight experimentation I have conducted suggests it will. I can think of a number of young people who in recent weeks when having asked me to explain my beliefs I have responded using this reasoning and packaged things in a grow Iowa first way. The response is overwhelming. People who may be in the middle or unsure start by first hearing how the Republican Party can lower taxes and bring prosperity and they suddenly agree. We no longer appear as a judgmental pack of moral zealots. I never backed away from my views, but I also did not use them at the first 45 seconds of the conversation. As a result I had an audience and agreement, two major steps towards winning someone over. It is basic salesmanship 101.
In closing I urge all Iowans who desire a more profitable future and one with lower taxes to get behind this approach to GOP leadership. In the coming months as we pick leaders look to see who wants change, and who seeks to keep everything the same. When we ask ourselves the infamous question “are we better off than we were four years ago?” and the answer is an obvious no there is little question a change in direction is needed.