In this winter of Republican discontent, last week offered three welcome signs of spring.
First, Republican Saxby Chambliss handily won reelection in the runoff for his U.S. Senate seat in Georgia.
Next, Republican John Fleming beat back Democratic attempts to capture the seat of retiring Rep. Jim McCrery in Louisiana.
Then, in the most dramatic upset of all, Republican newcomer Joseph Cao beat a corrupt incumbent in a heavily Democratic Louisiana congressional district to become the first Vietnamese-American elected to Congress and the first Republican to hold that seat since 1891.
In short, Republicans were three-for-three last week. These victories signal opportunity for Republicans.
• When Republicans have the creativity to be positive and solutions-oriented;
• When Republicans have the courage to stand by the center-right principles they share with most Americans;
• When Republicans work aggressively to listen to the American people and regain their trust;
When and if Republicans do these things, they will transform themselves from the opposition party to the 21st century, solutions-oriented party for a majority of Americans.
Joseph Cao: An Inspiring All American Success Story
Two events, in particular, represent opportunities for Republicans to begin to rebuild a governing majority and reclaim the trust of Americans.
The first is the election of Joseph Cao in Louisiana.
Anh “Joseph” Cao was forced to flee his native South Vietnam in 1975, at the age of 8, when North Vietnamese communists seized control. His father, a South Vietnamese army officer, was imprisoned by the communists.
But in his new home, Joseph Cao came to epitomize what is best about our country. He came to America, learned English, earned a degree in physics and then a degree in philosophy. He became a Jesuit seminarian and eventually earned a law degree and taught law at Loyola University in New Orleans.
When his own home and the Vietnamese community in New Orleans were devastated by hurricane Katrina, Cao didn’t wait for the help from FEMA that never came. He helped lead his community in rebuilding. Like so many other Americans who have received so much from America, Joseph Cao has devoted himself to giving something back.
From Behind the Scenes of the Cao Victory: “A Positive, Can-Do Spirit”
And Cao brought that same spirit of optimism, community and inspiration to his campaign.
James Farwell was a media consultant to the campaign. He credits the positive, solutions-oriented tone of the campaign to Cao’s victory.
“Joseph epitomizes the kind of candidate who can win: he exudes a positive spirit, he looks for the best in people, he works hard and he’s very community minded,” says Farwell. “This campaign was infused with a positive, can-do spirit, and its enthusiasm was infectious. That kind of positive spirit made a huge difference. People were thrilled to help a good candidate whom they felt believed was running truly to serve the public, not himself.”
Farwell also credits Cao’s willingness to reach across political lines.
“He had the support of the major reform-minded Democratic officials — the only Republican campaign for Congress that achieved that anywhere in the country,” says Farwell. “His view is that one can disagree with another person’s ideas while respecting the individual…[and] he is focused on outreach and solutions in a nation that respects diversity.”
Another Opportunity to Be Positive and Solutions-Oriented: A Tax Holiday
In addition to attracting and supporting leaders like Joseph Cao, the second opportunity for Republicans to transform from the opposition party to the principled-solutions party is in supporting Rep.Louie Gohmert’s (R-TX) plan to stimulate the economy through a people’s tax holiday rather than the current politicians’ spending spree.
As I explained last week, the Gohmert plan would take the taxpayers money currently being targeted to bailout Citigroup and devote it instead to a two month federal tax holiday from both payroll and income taxes.
If you add to that the up to $700 billion Speaker Pelosi is proposing to spend when the new Democratic controlled Congress comes into session in January, you could extend the tax holiday until July, 2009.
Don’t Make the Perfect the Enemy of the Good
Some have pointed out that the ideal stimulus for the economy is to make tax cuts permanent, and of course that’s true. But in the political world we live in now, Congressman Gohmert’s plan is our best path to achieving that goal.
Why? Because the Gohmert tax holiday takes what is an abstraction to most Americans — the billions of dollars politicians are using to bailout favored companies and industries — and makes it personal. Suddenly it’s no longer a question of how much money will go to which industry but how much money will go to an individual American’s paycheck.
Rep. Gohmert gives each of us a choice: Should the money go to the bureaucrat’s budget or my family’s budget? When Americans are given that choice, even for a few months, they will choose their family’s budget. And if that happens, they’ll want more.
A federal tax holiday instead of a crony capitalism bailout is precisely the kind of personal, positive solution that Republicans should be offering Americans today. We need to spend less time talking about what we can’t do — and what our opposition shouldn’t do — and more time talking about what we can do for the American people.
Finally this week, I’m inaugurating a new feature we call “Newt’s Quicklinks.” This is your guide to the events, news and opinion from American Solutions and the Center for Health Transformation that you might have missed over the past week. Just follow the links to websites, videos and other information.
• At AmericanSolutions.com, we’ve conducted an online poll that shows over 90% of participants prefer bankruptcy for the Big 3 auto companies over a bailout. You can join the almost 70,000 participants and view the results here.
• To watch the Center for Health Transformation’s Jim Frogue discuss the central role of health costs in the states’ economic meltdowns, go here.
• To watch columnist Fareed Zakaria and me discuss America’s energy issues, including the need for more domestic drillings, go here.
• Finally, to watch Rick Tyler, my spokesperson and founder of Renewing American Leadership discuss the controversy behind the new Capitol Visitor’s Center omissions about America’s religious heritage, click here.
P.S. The War on Christmas Comes to Cyberspace: National Review’s Mark Steyn reports that instead of a “Twelve Days of Christmas” sale, Amazon is having a “Twelve Days of Holiday” sale. And when a customer wrote in to complain about deleting the word “Christmas” from Christmas, Amazon amazingly sent out a canned apology for using the word “Christmas” elsewhere on their website. It read: “Please accept our sincere apologies if you were offended by the use of the word "Christmas" on our website. Our intention in referring to Christmas is to give specific ordering guidance for a specific holiday, not to exclude other faiths.”
P.P.S. At the Newt Store, We’re Not Afraid to Use the Word “Christmas”: Unlike Amazon, at Newt.org we’re not afraid to use the word “Christmas.” And our “ordering guidance” for this holiday season is personally autographed copies of my books, available now for shipping by Christmas. Visit shop.newt.org today.
American Solutions Update
American Solutions has initiated two new projects for the coming year
The American Solutions Airline Passengers (ASAP) initiative is an effort to improve technology and reduce flight delays. The current air traffic control system uses analog radar technology from the 1950’s. A new system, called NextGen, using global positioning satellites has been proposed. It would allow planes to fly closer together while increasing safety and would boost the capacity of our airways by about 40 percent. Best of all, it would eliminate nearly all delays, except for those caused by weather. It would mean more efficient airlines, using less fuel, having higher profits and higher wages, and offering better service at lower costs.
American Solutions is calling for a repeal of Sarbanes-Oxley. Now, with signs that our economy is moving toward recession, Congress should take this opportunity to repeal the law for four reasons: It was insufficient at preventing insolvencies and accounting shortfalls in companies such as Bear Sterns, Lehman Bros., American International Group (AIG) and Merrill Lynch; it takes longer for a company to enter the Capital Market. In addition, by creating criminal liabilities for board members, Sarbanes-Oxley has made it harder to find experienced members to join corporate boards; it initiated a movement among smaller public companies to return to private status or merge; it is resulting in a trend where companies choose to go public on foreign, not American, stock exchanges.