Editorial: Republicans should listen to Judd Gregg
With disdain dripping from his words for both the press and the hard right ideologues who have branded Republicans as the party of “NO,” former New Hampshire senator Judd Gregg, writing in The Hill, called for a huddle. It could be called, Gregg said, a “Positive Purpose Convention.” The rules would be simple: Nothing in the negative, no mention of Obama, no social fratricide. Just good ideas that will cause Americans to think and maybe say, ‘You know, those Republicans have something there.’ ”
Gregg is among the small group of senior statesman who want a party that has spent six years opposing and obstructing the president’s agenda to focus on putting something positive in front of the American people. We hope its members heed his call.
The long Republican attack on big government became, under the Tea Party influence of zealots like Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, an attack on governing itself. The hyperbolic rhetoric spouted by members of Congress like wind-up dolls has exhausted the public. People believe little they hear and nothing politicians, who claim to know what the American people want, say. Progress on most fronts has been stalled by partisanship. Meanwhile, other nations move ahead.
Gregg named a few ideas his party should pursue. First among those was immigration reform. It won’t be easy. The Republican Party is split between those who believe that providing illegal immigrants with a path to citizenship is the right thing to do and those who rabidly oppose what they call amnesty for lawbreakers. But, as Gregg certainly realizes, taking a position that’s seen as hostile to immigrants and immigration is demographic suicide since within a few years half the U.S. population under age 18 will be a member of a minority.
Immigration reform is achievable. The Obama administration, to the consternation of many of the president’s supporters, has increased border security and the deportation of people found to be in the nation illegally far beyond any previous effort. But reform will not be achievable if Republicans insist that illegal residents return to their home country and then go to the back of the immigration line. Those who have paid taxes and led crime-free productive lives must be allowed to continue those lives while pursuing citizenship.
Gregg also suggests that his party adopt a new policy toward energy, but he chose an odd aspect of that policy to focus on in his piece in The Hill: a policy that opens more public lands up to drilling. Domestic oil production has increased by 60 percent under Obama and natural gas extraction promises to make the nation energy independent. What’s needed now is the means to benefit from that energy without contributing to global warming and ways to wean humanity off fossil fuels.
Gregg is right to recognize that the Republican battle against Obamacare is destined to fail and that it’s time to turn to other issues. Enrollment is increasing and expected to swell in coming months. Any plan that takes health insurance away from the millions of Americans who have finally been able to purchase it, and the party that proposes that plan, will be defeated.
Instead, those who attend Gregg’s “Positive Purpose Convention” should come up with a Republican position on poverty that doesn’t include taking emergency relief away from the long-term unemployed and cutting food stamps, a tax policy that recognizes that the enormous and growing inequality in the income of citizens weakens the republic, a policy on wages that allows anyone who works full time and find it hard to live with dignity, and a social policy that’s blind, not just to gender, but gender preference.
Now that would be progress.