A Path to Republican Renewal

Robert M. Duncan
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Posted: Dec 19, 2008 3:00 PM
A Path to Republican Renewal

Since November 4th, 2008 we at the Republican National Committee have focused our time to address where we are and where we go from here as a Party. As Chairman of the Committee, I have seen where we have excelled during the 2008 election cycle and where we need to continue to improve.

Many questions have arisen since Election Day, but one question that I have continued to contemplate is one that will be central to our success: How does the Republican Party recapture the confidence and trust of Americans who may share common political beliefs, but who, in their daily lives, are facing life issues that may not fit so neatly into one easily defined category or the other?

I believe the GOP must find a way to relate more to the everyday concerns of families across the country, while at the same time staying true to our core conservative principles and beliefs.

Make no mistake; I believe there is no path forward without a recommitment to our party’s ideals. And, as with all things, reconnecting with those ideals is not a matter of mere aspiration. It takes hard work. It takes rigorous thinking, careful analysis, and policy smarts. The recommitment must be forward-looking, but it must be grounded in a principled governing philosophy.

It is my firm belief that the Republican Party can and must provide that leadership, just as it has in similar circumstances throughout our history.

The Republican Party today must be even more aggressive and innovative and that is why we are announcing the creation of the Center for Republican Renewal, a new office dedicated to identifying the most innovative ideas and policies from across the nation. The goal of the Center will be to make the Republican Party more policy-driven and substantive. With the formation of the center, the Republican Party will reclaim the mantle as the “Party of ideas.”

We will look beyond the Beltway to America itself – to our governors and mayors and other state and local officials. We will listen to conservative think tanks and policy leaders from every corner of the country. We will work closely with our policy leaders on Capitol Hill, both to learn from their experiences and to make sure that the best ideas are reaching them for their consideration. When it comes to the sharing of ideas and policies, there can be no one-way streets, only eight-lane superhighways.

The Center for Republican Renewal will take four immediate steps in launching this new initiative. First, we will create the Republican Policy Office, to conduct policy research and produce reports that will be invaluable to Republican surrogates, RNC leadership, and the general public. The Policy Office will be an intensely focused group of Republicans who are dedicated to ensuring that our party’s political revival is grounded in ideas and substance. It will have a significant public profile and be a resource for Republicans everywhere.

The Center’s second step will be to create a new, separate idea-driven RNC website. In the past we have used the print medium and we published a magazine that featured articles by policy thinkers and prominent Republicans. In today’s world, we can combine the best of the past – the vigorous debates over ideas – with the opportunities presented by modern technology. And so this website will be devoted to the premise that the Republican Party welcomes and encourages debate and discussion, and that it is best to have policy discussions formally within the party.

The Center’s third step will be to reconstitute the RNC’s Policy Councils. We will create volunteer networks of former government officials from both the executive and legislative branches, think tank leaders and others. Historically, when an administration leaves town, the policy expertise scatters with it. I want to prevent that from happening, and, with the help of modern technology, our policy councils can keep us all engaged as we move forward with informed and expert policy debates.

Finally, the Center will encourage policy debate beyond the Beltway. The RNC will join with state parties and think tanks to encourage policy discussions aimed at generating new ideas and learning what is working at the state and local levels. We will bring together experts of various backgrounds and focus on serious discussion of the challenges facing the nation, rather than on the politics of policy.

I am excited about the Center for Republican Renewal because elections should be about ideas, and if we don't have the best ideas, we simply do not deserve to win. And I believe a serious and studied analysis of where we are today is the only way to show voters that Republicans are not just committed to the mere acquisition of power, but to the implementation of the policies and programs that are most likely to preserve their freedoms, protect them in their homes, and ensure they have more opportunities to pursue prosperity.

I know there are many more victories in our future, at every level. I know this, because I know our party, I know our commitment, I know our people, and I know that when we have faced adversity in the past, we have come back stronger every time.