A Conservative’s Perspective on Why the GOP Is Unpopular

Before I interpret anything, consider the following:

  • In January of 2010, a Washington Post/ABC News poll found that an overwhelming 58% of respondents prefer “smaller government” whereas only 38% favor “larger government and more services.”
  • In September of 2011, a Washington Post/Pew Reasearch poll found that 65% of respondents think that cutting the budget to “reduce the federal deficit” would help either a lot or a little to create jobs, 70% favor cutting taxes on businesses for the same purpose, and finally 60% support cutting personal income taxes to stimulate job growth (only 35% think it would not help at all).
  • In April of 2011, another Washington Post/Pew Research poll found that 81% of respondents believe that our federal budget deficit is a “major problem to address now” but only 31% of respondents believe that in 5 years we will have “made significant progress” in diminishing our deficit.
  • In one of the latest Reason-Rupe polls, it was found that 88% of Americans have a favorable impression of their local grocery store while only 33% have a favorable impression of the federal government.  This can be attributed to many things but explicitly shows Americans’ disgust with our growing government.
  • In December of 2011, another Reason-Rupe poll found that 44% of respondents said that they were definitely not going to vote for President Obama in 2012 (only 29% said they were definitely going to vote for him).

So, what do these numbers mean?  First, quite obviously, Americans still do not favor big government. Although the classic “I don’t want bigger government but don’t cut the programs that I like” sentiment will always be present, polls consistently show that Americans fear bigger government the most

Second, policies that restrict government (lowering taxes and decreasing federal spending) are supported by a majority of Americans.  Third, the issue of big government needs to be addressed right now.  Most Americans do not believe that our government is willing to reign in its irresponsible behavior, though.  Fourth, our government has a low favorability rating because it is too big, intrusive, and inherently restricts choice.  Finally, a large amount of Americans are upset with the current administration for increasing the size of government, which is consistently against what the majority of Americans support and believe to be efficient.

RNCHow does this fit into our current political environment?  Well, you would think that Republicans would be the most popular kids on the block.  The 2008 party platform proclaimed:

This platform likewise rests on proven truths and tested wisdom as it looks ahead, both to deal with present challenges and to explore possibilities that may sometimes seem beyond our grasp.  It shows what the American people can accomplish when government respects their rights, conserves their resources, and calls upon their love of country.  It is not a tribute to bigger government.

That seems to be fairly in line with what Americans want, right?  Less government!  “Republicans will attack wasteful Washington spending immediately,” the GOP platform in 2008 aggressively stated.  Again, the platform seems to agree with the majority of Americans when it claims this: 

The most important distinction between Republicans and the leadership of today’s Democratic Party concerning taxes is not just that we believe you should keep more of what you earn.  That’s true, but there is a more fundamental distinction.  It concerns the purpose of taxation.  We believe government should tax only to raise money for its essential function.

It should be fairly obvious that this is what the majority of Americans want.  But they’re not happy with the GOP, so they must not be getting what they want.

In December of 2011, just recently, 72% of Americans disapproved of the way Republicans in Congress are doing their jobs.  Okay, so a lot of this has to do with spin that the media puts on issues and the overall manner of politics.  Also, Americans have historically been upset with the way Congress acts regardless of which party is the center of discussion (in the same above poll, 66% of Americans disapprove of the way Democrats are doing their jobs…not a big difference from Republicans).  But the GOP figure seems awfully high for a party that proclaims to be in line with the majority of Americans; if so many people want less government, and the GOP claims to be for less government, where is the disconnect?

Well, that’s fairly obvious: A majority of Republicans don’t actually act in support of less government and some of the party’s platform is admittedly big government.  I happen to be a registered Republican and plan on being one until I figure that there is no way it can be a party of real individual liberty and fiscal conservatism.  When that day happens, I’ll search for another party.  And although I am a member of the GOP, the Republicans I support most tend to vote on principle and not party lines.  However, with all this said, I find it extremely necessary to criticize the party because of how unprincipled its elected officials have been, especially in a time when real change could take place.

In this political environment, where government expansion is vehemently opposed, the GOP should — on paper — be the most popular party.  The 2012 election should be easy, considering there are already 44% of Americans looking for an alternative to Obama (leaving only roughly 6% to be persuaded to vote for the GOP if 50% is needed, which probably won’t be).  But due to its corrupted elected politicians (not all but many), and big government programs, the Republican Party is not popular to say the least.  Even conservatives are showing their anger toward the GOP in the form of the independent minded Tea Party movement.

This is coming at the expense of all Americans.  More than ever, libertarianism (the heart and soul of conservatism) is growing, less government is favored, and an anger toward government is felt nationwide.  This environment makes it possible for real, pro-liberty change to occur.  The GOP could be the stimulant for a new, freer America in my opinion.  Instead, it is stuck in big government mode and will not budge (exemplified by the 2012 GOP presidential field).  I’m not the only person, obviously, to notice this; former Republican Senator Mickey Edwards wrote an entire book on the matter.  If the Republican Party really wants to be successful, it will put forth candidates that stick to their liberty based principles, which are the same principles a majority of Americans support.

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