I know what it means…
By David H. Landon
I am a politically predisposed to support the Republican Party and its candidates. I come by my Republican credentials honestly. In 1963 when I was 10 years old, my father ran for office as a Republican for a city council seat in Union City, Ind. When the local Republican Party approached my father, he reluctantly agreed with two conditions: he refused to spend one minute campaigning or one dime of his own money. He informed the party officials that he would allow his name to be on the ballot, but he felt it was unseemly for a small-town doctor to personally solicit votes from the electorate, many of whom in a town of 4,000 residents might be his patients.
Surprisingly, they agreed to his conditions and he became a candidate for the First Ward Council seat for Union City. Although he pledged not to campaign “one minute” for the seat, my mother didn’t agree to the same rules of engagement. She, my younger brother and I walked door-to-door to every house in the First Ward and delivered my father’s campaign brochure, which was produced by and paid for by the local Republican Party. We walked to every door because we didn’t know to ask for a list of registered voters. We had no bumper stickers or yard signs. We didn’t make hundreds of phone calls to the residents of the First Ward because the local operator, Mable, would have tolerated about three phone calls before telling us that we were tying up the line and her time. That November in Union City, Ind. there was a sweep which carried all of the Republican candidates, including my father into office. Looking back on the campaign, it wasn’t much of a campaign by today’s standards, but it was enough to infect me with a lifelong bug for Republican politics.
I’m sure that initially I was a Republican because my parents were Republican. We were a family that sat around the dinner table and discussed politics. My father was probably more of a conservative than a Republican. His conservative views generated the topics for the nightly dinner discussion. The topics included Vietnam, the draft and hippies in general, upon who he looked disdainfully. I didn’t realize it at the time but many of the conservative views I hold today were shaped during those family dinner discussions. As an adult, I have re-examined the principles of the Republican Party and find them, for the most part, to reflect my own philosophy.
As we enter this presidential election cycle, we are facing difficult times as a country. The economy isn’t producing enough new jobs to completely extract us from the recession and the three-plus years of high unemployment. Congress is gridlocked with Democrats controlling the Senate and Republicans controlling the House. Polling consistently shows that the American people are frustrated with the inability of our government to extract us from this economic quagmire. Both sides are claiming to be guided by long-held principles from which positions compromise is difficult to find. At the moment, the divisions between left and right, Republican and Democrat, are fundamental and seemingly unbridgeable.
The art of government is the art of compromise. However, this current impasse between the parties, which has always existed to some degree, now seems intractable. Each side is so deeply dug in to their respective position, that parliamentary tricks are being used to gain an advantage. An examination of the Republican positions on these gridlocked issues perhaps can assist me in answering today’s forum question.
Most Republicans believe that the size and reach of the federal government has grown out of control and that the amount of money the government is now spending cannot be sustained. Watching the financial crises from around the world created because public spending has been unabated, Republicans believe that spending by the U.S. government has to be brought under control. Greece has teetered on bankruptcy for several years. Their ratio of national debt to GDP is 116 percent. The U.S. ratio for 2011 was 102 percent. We’ve had to raise the debt ceiling twice in the past five months. If this spending doesn’t stop soon, we will be in a financial crisis the likes of which we have never seen.
Every time there is a new program or the extension of an existing program before Congress, Republicans are taking the position: If we are to fund this program, we must cut other parts of the budget to pay for it. Republicans believe that we are already taxed too heavily and that increasing taxes is a bad policy if the goal is to increase revenues. Republican policy is to keep as much money as possible in the hands of taxpayers.
Republicans also believe in American Exceptionalism and that our freedoms must be jealously guarded. In order to protect those freedoms, a strong national defense is essential and non-negotiable. Republicans believe that it’s time to stop apologizing for America, who, as a people, are the most generous and giving nation in the history of the world.
Smaller and more efficient government; lower taxes; a strong and unapologetic national defense; a strong defense of the Bill of Rights including the right to bear arms; protecting our borders; maintaining a strong and effective safety net for those truly in need and affected by this recession; and embracing the concept that along with the great opportunities to be successful in this country comes the possibility of failure that the rest of the country has no obligation to bail one out of.
These concepts describe for me what it means to be a Republican in 2012.
David H. Landon is the former Chairman of the Montgomery County Republican Party Central Committee. He can be reached at