A week or so ago David Frum announced that he would be (temporarily) abandoning the blogging world and giving up his attempts to reform the GOP. I commented at the time that I didn’t that as much of a loss because while Frum has always been pro-choice and a supporter of gay marriage, he’s now recently also started to denounce Republican economic orthodoxy. So the only issue he seems to continue to support us on is foreign policy which would put him in the same camp as Joe Lieberman, certainly admirable company, but not Republican company. Basically Frum was the last person the party needed to be taking advice from.
So I decided to lay out what I think are some ideas/policy goals/reforms the party should pursue if it wants to re-energize its base and appeal to new segments of the population without abandoning its core principles and values.
The first idea that sprang to mind was overhauling the federal criminal code.
What makes this issue particularly attractive is that it has broad, bipartisan appeal. Or at least what appears to be broad, bipartisan appeal. When I worked, briefly, on the Hill back in the summer of 2009 Democrats and Republicans alike both seemed to be champing at the bit, ready to denounce so-called over-criminalization.
In fact just a few months ago the House Judiciary Committee, chaired by Virginia’s own Sixth District Congressman Bob Goodlatte, convened the Over-Criminalization Task Force of 2013. The main focus of the group will be to “examine the drug laws in this country” but members will also take time to peruse the entire federal criminal code in an attempt to eliminate glaring duplications and unnecessary overlaps with state laws. Currently there are over 4500 laws in the federal criminal code, so the task force certainly has its work cut out for it.
Democrats representing urban areas favor reform because they see many of their constituents caught affected by merciless federal laws and the resultant mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines that send young African-American men to prison for years on simple drug possession charges. And conservative Republicans want to see a simple streamlining of federal regs and a return to the limited government our founders envisioned.
We purport to be the party of limited government and free enterprise and yet we’ve never truly embarked on a substantive undertaking to address this “over-criminalization” issue. And this issue seems to be a no brainer for Republicans. And it seems that every segment of the party would be in favor of this from social conservatives to the liberty movement crowd, this might very well be the flag all Republicans can unite under.