The Ripon Forum

Volume 44, No. 4

Fall 2010 Issue

“What Do We Do Now?”

By on October 21, 2014

“This is the moment for Republicans to define our party once again…”


There has been much chatter about the Tea Party activists and Republicans. That is great theatre for Capitol Hill, but a harsh reality will soon crest over all House members, Democrats and Republicans, Tea Partiers and coalition moderates.

That reality: we are worse off than we have been in a very long time. We imperatively need new ideas and determination to help our country.

This is the moment for Republicans to define our party once again, as Lincoln did, as liberators of a people. This time it will be for all Americans who face a future as uncertain and shackled as those the party stood for at its birth.

We must have a new coalition for the Republican Party. It must not just be a coalition of people, but a coalition of new ideas.

Our problems are ALL OF OUR problems. Many of them – poverty, education, the deficit – have no partisan claim. We are brothers and sisters in this journey. The pain of hunger feels the same in a Democratic stomach as it does in a Republican stomach. The frustration of illiteracy manifests with the same intensity in the heart of a moderate, a conservative and a liberal.

We must have a new coalition for the Republican Party. It must not just be a coalition of people, but a coalition of new ideas.

Members of Congress take an oath to defend the Constitution and to protect this nation. But we let ourselves get defeated from within when our population is left adrift with hunger and poor education. Those are the true foundations of a strong, forward looking nation.

Look in the faces of those who will be helped and see that the overwhelmingly number are ready – are hoping – to become part of the society of contributors.

Taxpayers have shelled out $15.9 trillion on means-tested welfare programs since 1964. After adjusting for inflation, welfare spending is 13 times higher today than it was in 1965. This is growth more rapid than Medicare, Social Security and defense. Yet, after decades of massive spending, politicians of both parties failed to address the collapse of marriage – which is the root cause of child poverty.

We can better attack poverty by ending outdated policies that foster high unemployment. We can assist fathers who have the desire, but not the means, to pay child support by forging an environment for the wage provider to create a job and the wage earner to have the skills required to do the job. Let’s review regulations that inhibit competition in services to the poor and create an “Anti-Poverty Expenditures Category” in the federal budget to bring all the anti-poverty programs into one cohesive area.

Today, many in government ask which problems are fundable. They should be asking which problems are solvable.

As Republicans and Democrats move forward, we will all need to tighten our belts. Our resources are limited and we must use innovation, competition and think transformation to create ways to make our citizens resources, not a drain on resources, especially considering we are broke and are paying over $1 billion per day in interest on our national debt.

We have been dreadfully slow to recognize the crisis in our classrooms and even slower to act. American students learn less than their counterparts because they’re actually being taught less.

Americans aren’t going to be able to compete in the job market if we can’t compete in the classroom. So we need to develop rigorous standards that at the very minimum are comparable to the lessons being learned by kids in other countries.

The strength of America is in her people. Our first line of defense is restoring the ability of all Americans to dream AND believe again.RF

J.C. Watts represented the 4th District of Oklahoma in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995 to 2003. He currently serves as the Founder and Chairman of J.C. Watts Companies.

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