To Win The White House

Republicans must unite and reach out to all Americans

Curt ClawsonIt’s hard to believe that the 2016 presidential campaign has already begun. The first candidates have announced their intention to run. The Iowa Caucuses and New Hampshire Primary take place next January. Our important Florida Primary will follow in March.

Already there’s a buzz about the GOP 2016 ticket. The good news is we’ve got a dozen qualified contenders. The potentially bad news is that this same dozen could harm GOP chances if they start attacking each other instead of focusing on the far better choices that Republicans offer in governance. I’m confident we will focus on the issues this time – and equally optimistic that we’ll unite behind the GOP candidate, once that person is chosen.

Sometimes Republicans vary on matters of ideology. Some, like me, are more conservative or more libertarian than others. Some are more centrist or more moderate in their philosophic views. I say that’s good. Healthy, constructive debate is a good thing. We are a nation of individuals – not a one-size-fits-all collection of lemmings.

Philosophic differences are to be expected. But when we differ, we must do so respectfully.

We must not call each other names like “RINOs” or “extremists” – or demonize so-called “tea-partiers.” All of these stakeholders, and lots of other Americans who rarely vote Republican, want the same thing – fairness, security, and opportunity for all. We must govern toward this goal.

When it comes to winning the Presidency, Republicans must set aside ideological differences and come together as often as possible. And we must always obey Ronald Reagan’s 11th Commandment: “Thou shalt not speak badly about fellow Republicans.” If we understand this and
act like a team, a Republican will win the White House in 2016.

Our Republican Party can work as a team, and we can govern. In fact, we just did this in March when the House passed a budget plan – the first good one in six years. We also passed Medicare reform – after Congress had kicked the so-called “doc-fix” can down the road 20 times
over the prior 14 years.

I’m proud to have played an important role in bringing members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus together to help pass the important budget plan, one that would grow our economy, defund ObamaCare, support our military, and protect the interests of Southwest Florida – including the ecosystem of the Florida Everglades. These are the goals that led me into public service.

Washington needs to start living within its means. We must begin paying down the national debt. Currently this debt exceeds 100 percent of GDP. Interest payments on the national debt will be a whopping $5.6 trillion over the next decade. Without a change in course, real GDP growth will remain sluggish – meaning fewer jobs and lower household incomes for our workers and families. This is unfair to today’s Americans – and unfair to future generations.

With our budget plan as the foundation of upcoming 2016 appropriations bills, and as the foundation of our platform for 2016, we can begin defining a future that focuses on economic growth and opportunity for all, rather than on government largesse. Our plan would balance the federal budget in ten years, without raising taxes, while cutting $5.5 trillion in spending. It would also restore America’s military strength; the greatest single deterrent to those who threaten the security of free people worldwide.

In the budget debate, conservatives would have preferred even deeper cuts. But turning the ship of state is going to require a multi-stepped
process. We also need tax reform, entitlement reform, and a reduction or elimination of burdensome regulations that are stifling growth and
hurting the competitiveness of American businesses.

Accomplishing all of this will not be possible with the current Administration. We must accept the reality that we do not have a veto-proof Congress. But we do need to set the agenda and explain it in terms that are appealing to most Americans.

If we do this, the American people will elect a Republican to the White House in 2016. But first the Republican Party must end any and all media-exaggerated infighting and unite behind the principles and policies of sound governance. We need clearer messages and better messengers. We need candidates who can communicate in language that resonates with so many voters who simply don’t understand how the Republican platform can help them, their families, and future generations.

Let’s reach out and open the Republican tent to all.

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