Republicans should have reformed the financial system wrongly built on Democratic policies

There have been some excellent summaries about the current financial system problems lately – you can see examples here, here and here.

What’s apparent is that the policy failures which led to this near-collapse originated on the political left, and the political right failed in its duty to bring about necessary changes while Republicans held power at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue.

They should have gotten the job done or raised hell so everyone would know that they tried. Instead they decided – more often than not – to govern like Democrats when it came to domestic policy.

The notion that Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and Barack Obama bring change is simply laughable. The more I read about the recent problems on Wall Street the more I’m convinced that Obama is the guy who actually represents four more years of Bush economic policy.

Certainly Obama would love to outspend President George W. Bush, and he certainly would like D.C. to hold power over even more of the U.S. economy. That’s not change, that’s putting the pedal to the medal in the same wrong direction – at least when it comes to spending.

What’s also apparent in the autumn of 2008 is that still too few of the people who run for office as Republicans understand that their job isn’t to serve as brokers between bad and good policies. They’re elected to advance an agenda. You can’t advance an agenda without the buy-in of the American public.

But Republicans have yet to show much of a sign that they’re going to get serious about “taking the nation to school” on the major issues of the day. Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, health care reform, and school reform. Government spending at all levels – the list goes on and on. Like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, all of these are also problems caused by Democratic Party policies.

None of the big issues noted above will be easy to articulate. Few solutions fit nicely on a bumper sticker (“Drill Here, Drill Now” being one of the exceptions to the rule).

It is my view that the failure of Congressional Republicans when it comes to the War in Iraq frankly borders on treason. Most of them voted for it, and then hid in the tall grass while the initial strategy failed. The fact that they’re still AWOL on defending the invasion even after the troop surge succeeded shows just how intellectually challenged and unprincipled some of those men and women are.

Those that win office have shown only that they know how to win an office. We’ve yet to see the advance of any kind of serious reform agenda on the part of Republican elected officials. I’ve been writing about this for years and I will continue to outline constructive advice on how they might stop being elected clerks and start being leaders selling policy solutions.

If you think the Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac scandal and what’s currently happening to the financial markets is tough to explain, well, sorry, but that’s life. None of the important challenges we need to face during the next few years are going to be easy. Life is rarely easy. Deal with it.

John McCain and Sarah Palin are getting a lot of mileage out of the word “reform” – but it’s clear to me that the number one reform must be a reform in the way Republican office holders use their bully pulpit.

I had the opportunity to hear a Republican state representative give a short talk last week and you would’ve thought the man had just stepped through a hole in the dimension. He spoke favorably about Sarah Palin despite the fact that his own record is nothing like the Alaska Governor’s.

There’s little doubt that most Illinois Republican legislators would prefer to ignore the fact that Palin’s appeal among the party’s base has much to do with her willingness to challenge the party’s failed old guard.

Challenging and tossing out that old guard can’t be done without more people entering the political fray to do the work that a democracy requires. The success of a Republican renaissance and political reformation depends upon people answering that call.

Now that we’re within six weeks of a presidential election more Americans begin to tune into the political process. However, the work doesn’t stop after election day. Illinois will need new leaders – from party offices like state chairman to a whole new crop of candidates for local, legislative, and statewide office.

Talented and accomplished rank and file Republicans who wish to see change must step up. Next year is the right time to replace failed leadership and start building in advance of the 2010 election cycle.

The injection of energy we’ve witnessed when Sarah Palin was added to the Republican presidential ticket can be duplicated on a smaller scale here in Illinois if the right people step up.

©2008 John Francis Biver