In the March 1, 2010 issue of Newsweek, the cover story, "How the GOP Sees It", examines what direction the country would take if the Republican Party was in power; at least, it offers Newsweek's opinion of what direction the country would take. It's not a bad article, and I'd actually encourage people to read it. Keep in mind when you do, however, that the writers of the article may be overlooking several key elements of Republican philosophy.
Here is the letter I wrote in reply to the article:
I was impressed with your choice of cover story this week. However, reading it, I found a number of misleading and sometimes incomplete items. To start, the first few paragraphs of the article makes clear the writers have already concluded Republicans are not interested in bipartisanship at all. This is certainly a debatable point, but I won't debate it here.
The writers state that, while Republicans in Congress are adamant about lowering taxes, they have "rejected Democratic bills that tried to lure Republicans by including significant tax cuts." Why do people assume that, just because you include something in a bill that Republicans want, it's reason enough for them to support it? A bill can be stuffed with tax cuts, but if it's bad in general for the country, then that's reason enough to vote against it. Suppose it had been a bill authorizing abortion clinics in every public school in the country. Would the writers of the article conclude that Republicans should support it just because it also allows prayer in school?
In the category of supposed contradictions, the article goes on to state that "George W. Bush, an avowed small-government conservative, presided over a massive increase in the size of government." This is not a contradiction. That "massive increase" was the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, which kept the country safe from every terrorist attack from the time of its creation to the day President Bush left office. Small-government conservatives can still believe in a strong national defense.
Regarding health care, Newsweek failed to address several major differences between Republican and Democratic philosophies; differences that would certainly justify so-called "stonewalling" by the GOP. One is abortion funding, which conservatives and even a large portion of moderates steadfastly oppose. Another is coverage of illegal aliens, which President Obama claims to oppose and yet consistently fails to prohibit in his own and Congress' versions of reform. Other important issues include the federal mandate, Medicare cuts, and the public option, all of which face significant opposition not just from Republicans, but from the country at large. And, of course, there's the question of how to pay for it all. Factor these into the equation, and the article's expressed confusion about why the American people continue to be ambivalent about supporting the president's efforts is answered.
I found little to criticize about the next two sections, foreign policy and terrorism. The article makes clear where the Republicans and Democrats disagree, and the problems inherent in trying to reach consensus. I appreciated including Senator Kit Bond's concern that, by treating terrorists like criminals instead of enemy combatants now, it could make it difficult to prosecute Osama bin Laden as an enemy combatant.
Finally, the article addresses education. When Newsweek says that Republicans voted against "Race to the Top" because it was part of the president's stimulus package, you should clarify that this was no knee-jerk partisan maneuver, but rather an impossible choice legislators are often forced to make: either vote for a bad bill or vote against a good program. "Race to the Top" should never have been part of the stimulus package; including it in the bill probably was a partisan maneuver.
This was a fairly good article, and I enjoyed reading it; but the writers should have gone further in exploring Republican philosophies, motivations, and proposals.
Thank you for your time,
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