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GOP Convention: Repudiating the Past

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All eyes will be on Tampa, Florida as Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan attempt to reset the presidential campaign narrative. As all conventions are, this one will be a tightly scripted affair with the intention of firing up the party base and appealing to Mr. and Mrs. Swing Voter.

But to fire up the base – conservatives who stayed home in 2008, but stormed the polls in 2010 – the convention will need to be about more than pomp and circumstance. There will need to be substantive policy declarations that conservatives can rally behind, which in some cases will mean a repudiation of the party’s past.

That’s where the party platform comes in.

Although Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus has been emphatic that it is “the platform of the Republican Party [and] not the platform of Mitt Romney,” no one will make the distinction, which is precisely why getting it right is so important. Based on news reports, here are a few things from the platform conservatives should note.

First, the platform apparently removed past language in support for the wind production tax credit. Although the tax credit, which has been in place for 20 years, retains bipartisan support, it has become synonymous with President Obama’s failed stimulus, a faulty green energy future, and Spain’s economic quagmire. In short, there is no place for energy subsidies in a conservative governing agenda.

This push was made by the Romney campaign, knowing full well it may cost them votes in windblown Iowa. Interestingly though, North Dakota Senator and platform committee co-chair John Hoeven defended the new language, saying we are “trying to use all sources of energy with market-based principles.”

What’s President Obama’s response: He wants to “keep investing in homegrown energy sources like wind that have never been more promising.” Two decades of subsidies with no end in sight…at least Republicans are finally getting on track.

Second, the platform objects to “global taxes and a global monetary governance mechanism to raise $400 billion a year to aid developing countries.” The Washington Times reported the “move also could have the practical effect of complicating the ability of the U.S. to participate in such international accords as the Law of the Sea Treaty, which the U.S. Senate has never ratified.”

This is welcome news because Washington-based special interest groups are still pushing for ratification despite the announced opposition of 34 Senators, which is enough to kill the treaty if it were brought up for a vote. Having the entire Party apparatus – and by extension the Romney campaign – opposed to the treaty is devastating for the internationalists who are determined to capture America’s wealth and redistribute it to developing and underdeveloped countries.

The premium-support model – a central tenet of Paul Ryan’s budget and The Heritage Foundation’s Saving the American Dream plan – is the only reform option that will ensure that Medicare is still around for future generations.

Committing to Medicare reform in the platform avoids a repeat of President Bush’s ill-fated Social Security reform, which was not an area of focus until after he won reelection in 2004. It also confirms that the election will be about a choice between two distinctly different visions for our country – a government-first vision espoused and enacted by President Obama versus a freedom-centered agenda touted by Romney and Ryan.

Last week, Mitt Romney hit on the freedom message at a campaign stop in Iowa:

“It is free men and women who drive our economy. President Obama, bless his heart, has tried to substitute government for free people, and it has not worked, and it will never work.”

So long as Romney, Ryan and their fellow Republicans remember that, conservatives will work eagerly for their victory in November, and 2012 will look much like 2010. However, if conservatives perceive a return to the days of earmarks, Medicare Part D, and No Child Left Behind, then 2012 will look much more like 2008.

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