A Conservative Guide to Governing

A victory this fall by the Republicans would damage the ability of the Democrats to push their agenda through Congress, but it wouldn’t lead to implementation of conservative values in national government. President Obama will be in office until 2013 and will enjoy the power of the veto pen.

Those who want to see conservative ideas implemented will need to look to the states where a solid Republican wave could bring in a Republican legislature and a Republican governor. Is the current crop of conservative candidates springing from the tea party movement ready to put their values into practice? In Idaho, the state party convention passed a slew of resolutions in support of conservative values, but at least one conservative state representative is worried they are failing to plan policies that will support the agenda.

Nationwide, many candidates are defined by the things they are against (i.e., ObamaCare, cap and trade, and amnesty), as well as by impractical ideas (ex: repealing the 17th Amendment, abolishing the Federal Reserve). But many will win this November, not only because of what they oppose, but because they’re not part of the Democratic Party.

What will the impact of hard-fought conservative victories be? Success will be short-lived if conservative victors find themselves asking the question Robert Redford’s character posed at the end of The Candidate after securing a term in the U.S. Senate:

What do we do now?

Conservatives candidates should have a governing plan. While the components will differ from state to state, these four conservative ideas are a good place to start.

1) Tax reform

Many state tax codes are anti-growth. For example, Ohio has a complex nine-bracket tax code, Oklahoma has seven brackets, and Iowa has six. Other states have high top tax brackets that punish success and discourage successful people from moving to the state, such as Iowa’s 8.98% top bracket.

The aim of conservative legislators should be to either flatten out the tax code by consolidating and reducing overall rates and eliminating deductions, or by eliminating the income tax altogether and relying on other sources of revenue, such as a sales tax to fund state operations. States like Florida and Texas already do this. Whatever approach is taken, it is vital that states governed by conservatives pass pro-growth tax codes.

2) Right-to-work and other checks on Big Labor

Right-to-work laws protect workers from being required to join a union or pay an agency fee as a term of employment. These laws protect the rights of individuals who don’t want their union dues going to the propagation of liberal ideas and candidates. This will reduce the influence of Big Labor, as many people will choose to leave labor unions or not become members if they’re not required to join a union or pay an agency fee as a condition of employment.

Striking a blow against unions is the right thing to do for the American economy.

The public employees' unions are behind the fiscal disaster in California. Unionized public employees earn thirty-one percent more in pay and sixty-eight percent more in benefits. You can’t talk about fiscal responsibility and do nothing about unions. In the private sector, unions have been company-killers in recent years. The recent bankruptcies of companies like Chrysler, GM, and United Airlines had union fingerprints on all of them, such as the auto industry Jobs Bank, which paid workers to sit in rubber rooms doing nothing after their manufacturing jobs were eliminated.

From a political standpoint, there has never been a better time to push back against the unions. Gallup found public support for unions to be at an all-time low. It’ll also be politically advantageous for conservatives because with less forced contributions to the unions, the unions will have less money and organizational power to spend electing Democrats.

3) Bring market forces to education

Democrats traditionally run strong in the polls on education. Conservatives allowed the debate to be defined as purely a discussion of dollars and cents. When voters are skeptical about all levels of government, this might not be a problem. However, in normal years, parents are rightly concerned about whether their children will get a good education, and equate less money with a poorer education.

Conservatives have to change the debate to a discussion of how we can best educate kids in the 21st century in an efficient way. Conservatives have a wide range of policy options: school vouchers and tax credits, expansion of charter schools, reforming tenure laws to make it easier to fire bad teachers, and offering merit pay.

While teachers' unions oppose educational reform, many individual teachers oppose the agenda of the unions but feel they have no choice but to support it. In states where teachers legally can choose not to belong to the union, conservatives should promote organizations such as the Association of American Educators. They provide teachers necessary benefits, such as liability insurance, at a lower cost than unions and without forcing teachers to subsidize the union agenda.

For the rest of the country, this is another reason to pass right-to-work laws. Hard-working teachers need a way out of the unions that take their union dues and spend them on supporting a myriad of left-wing causes they wouldn’t willingly give a nickel to.

4) Defund the left

The left is subsidized by involuntary contributions -- not only from dissenting union members, but from taxpayers. For example, Planned Parenthood gets 1/3 of its money from taxpayers. Conservatives reduce the number of abortions by stopping state and local tax dollars from going to America’s #1 abortion provider.

Conservatives should push a Mexico City policy in every state and county in America. No taxpayer family planning dollars should go to any organization that performs abortions. The undercover investigations by Live Action, showing Planned Parenthood employees willing to advise underage clients on how to cover for adult boyfriends, should provide plenty of ammo for a move against Planned Parenthood. So far, only Orange County has taken the plunge.

Planned Parenthood is only one of many parasitic left-wing organizations living off taxpayers. Conservatives should search budgets to find out what appropriations are going to organizations and agencies that advance a left-wing agenda and defund as many of these as they can. Left-wing groups have a right to pursue their agenda, but not on the taxpayers' dime.

The left will fight back against any conservative agenda, but if conservatives pass a practical agenda that will make their states better while hampering the left’s ability to game the system, the fight will be worth it.