Civil & Respectful Debate
The established parties, along with college professors and the mainstream media, are promoting and practicing a politics of resentment, denunciation, and vilification. We need instead a politics of mutual respect and civil discourse. We need a politics that recognizes and insists that individuals are defined not by their color, gender, and sexuality, but rather by their character and contributions. We need to restore free speech and due process on college campuses. We need to take from history not just proof of injustice but also proof of the imperfectability of humankind and its social conditions. We need to be relentless in protecting equality before the law; reluctant even to attempt an equality of material conditions and personal happiness. We need a party that welcomes and protects individuals in all their diversity.
The established parties fail to demonstrate any consistent set of ideas in their politics and policies. The Democrats, who once stood for gradual social amelioration and the equality of all people before the law, now advocate unrestrained personal freedom while promoting an oppressive identity politics and a program of relentless government expansion. The Republicans, who once stood for limited government and fiscal responsibility, now seek to intervene in profound personal decisions while collaborating with Democrats in unrestrained debt accumulation. We need instead a party dedicated to a consistent set of principles, with the freedom and accountability of individuals and institutions being the central idea around which those who are “socially liberal but fiscally conservative” and others can align.
Competition & Choice
The established parties and their politicians are too entrenched; too protected. Not being forced to compete across a diverse population, a range of interests, or a spectrum of ideas, the Democrats and Republicans resort to a politics that is narrowly conceived and increasingly extreme. We need instead a politics in which the parties and their candidates are competing to reach, move, and serve all of us with our individual heritages, pursuits, and idiosyncrasies. We need a third party, an alternative to the Democratic and Republican parties that brought us admirably through the 20th century but are so far failing us badly in the 21st. We need the Libertarian Party as a viable alternative to our current political duopoly, so as to give us competition and choice; so as to expand the political equation and temper the extremes.
A Sustainable Health System
The healthcare system remains in critical condition. The Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare) increased access to health insurance by establishing exchanges and expanding Medicaid. But the exchanges appear vulnerable to collapse, while costs continue to rise for payers, providers, and consumers of healthcare services. Quality has not improved. ACA has proven, in short, naught but a massive and unsustainable expansion of entitlements. While Democrats respond with a call to hand healthcare entirely over to the federal government under a so-called single-payer model, Republicans respond with no discernible plan at all. Instead, we need a market-oriented transformation that brings competition, innovation, accountability, and choice. Government will need to retain an important role, promoting access and protecting the vulnerable. But it cannot play the primary or exclusive role. For recovery of the healthcare system to a sustainable condition, we must reduce the federal role.
A Restrained Foreign Policy
The country cannot disengage from a hostile world, but it can and must avoid the costly entanglements and failed excursions that have characterized its foreign policy over the last twenty years. We cannot convert other societies into democracies. We cannot protect them when they will not protect themselves. For preservation of our own liberties, we can and must strike alliances with partner nations who are willing to contribute and risk their due share. For actions that any reasonable person would characterize as war, the President must request and receive authorization from Congress. In general, debate and decision must be on a case-by-case basis, avoiding both naiveté and idealism. We need, in sum, a reserved realism in our foreign policy, with firm requirement that threats and responses thereto must be transparent to the citizenry and congress.
A Balanced Budget
The established parties, along with intellectuals in the universities and pundits in the media, have disregarded and denied the costs, risks, and injustices arising from rampant debt-fueled spending by the federal government. Meanwhile at the state level, the threat of defaults and bailouts is looming from irredeemable obligations accumulating in pension programs for government employees. Politically, the Democrats have been unabashed about taxing and borrowing to finance their expansive governmental programs and pensions. Meantime, the Republicans have been irresolute about bringing taxes and spending into reasonable balance; about resorting to budgetary gimmicks and rosy assumptions to circumvent difficult decisions about the cost of government. Instead, we need a commitment and protections for a balanced budget, which is to be brought about by reducing government spending while holding the line on taxes.