Slate magazine, an online version of the Washington Post but even more liberal, recently surveyed liberal groups and individuals regarding their "agenda" for 2014. Several items came back and if liberals want to advance these items, we on the Right should be prepared to either thwart or minimize some of these items.
First up, they vow to definitively cease the debate over the Keystone pipeline and kill the project once and for all. Here, simple commonsense education may prove useful. Although this will not be the great permanent job creator that some have made it to be, a handful of jobs is still better than no jobs. Secondly, let us give the nutcase environmental crowd the argument that this Canadian oil is particularly "dirty" (what oil isn't?). It is going to be refined somewhere. Wouldn't it make greatest sense to refine that oil in cleaner, state-of-the-art refineries in the United States rather than dirty polluters in Singapore or China? Or, the Keystone pipeline could be used as a bargaining chip. We on the Right will cease insistence as soon as five new nuclear plants are operational. Fat chance on that one! Just build the damn pipeline already. We are really screwing with a reliable ally in Canada and the international relations implications must also be considered.
Secondly, they want to ensure that the Senate-passed ENDA is passed in the House and becomes the law of the land. This law would protect gays in the workplace from discrimination thus opening up a new round of regulations and litigation. In short, ENDA would be a financial bonanza for civil rights attorneys. Obviously, workplace discrimination should be rooted out, but ENDA is legislating a politically-correct morality. Most of the "evidence" for discrimination comes from studies that show that a gay has a 1 in 4 chance of being discriminated against in the workplace. What the Left fails to mention is that this is based upon self-reports by gays. What may be a passing joke in the hallway becomes "discrimination" in the mind of the gay when, in fact, no discriminatory intent was present. Do not be hoodwinked into believing this is civil rights legislation. It is the LGBT community forcing their morality upon the majority of Americans.
Third up is enhancing voting rights. This runs the gamut from enhancing voter registration (making it easier, thus increasing the chances of fraud) to rewriting the Voting Rights Act of 1965 which the Left erroneously believes was recently gutted by the Supreme Court. The only thing "gutted" was the formula for determining covered jurisdictions which was based on data almost 50 years old. In their minds, today's South is the equivalent of the South in 1964 which even most sane blacks concede is not the case. No one on the Right denies that racism stills exists in the United States. But, liberals need to concede that it is not exclusively a "Southern phenomena." Hence, the GOP should get ahead of the ball here and propose legislation that reflects the reality of today in order to determine "covered jurisdictions" with the goal of being specific and not "covering whole states." And it must work both ways. Gone should be the days of racially gerrymandered congressional districts that ensure that a minority is elected. Also, I am all for voting rights and making sure there is no discrimination. In exchange for a new formula based on today's realities, how about a national law for voter ID in federal elections? All those civil rights lawyers fighting these laws can pool their money, rent a bus, and round up all those alleged millions unable to purchase a $5 identification card. And hey- if you obtained health insurance through the Obamacare exchange and since it is so secure, wouldn't an insurance card, by proxy, suffice for ID?
The minimum wage hike will receive a big push by Liberals and their union allies. The idea that increasing the minimum wage will somehow end "income inequality" in this country is ludicrous. Quite frankly, I would be appalled if the guy flipping hamburgers at the local McDonald's was making $15 an hour. With the new year, some 13 states hiked their minimum wage. Personally, I have no problem with a minimum wage per se although I still believe the market is the best determinant of one's wages. But, it is here to stay. So, nationally perhaps it should be hiked to $8.25 an hour with a 5-year moratorium thereafter. Most importantly, in no case should a minimum wage hike be linked to the CPI since that is simply a death spiral where higher wages are passed onto customers which increases the CPI which then causes another wage hike. That is a dumb idea and the voters of New Jersey are dumb for approving this method (present writer excluded- I voted against it).
Immigration reform is another big idea on the agenda. I am all for fixing a broken immigration system. What I do not understand is the insistence that either side of the equation needs to be addressed first. That is, strengthening border security is insisted upon by us on the Right while addressing current illegals before border security is stressed by the Left. The two can and should be done simultaneously. Enhancements in border security should be built in as benchmarks to trigger other aspects of the program. Stronger workplace enforcement must be utilized and E-Verify made mandatory. We need to stress cyclical immigration of workers. We had a working immigration system at one time; perhaps we should go back to it. However, I am suspicious of the Left's insistence on immigration reform and suspect that they see a huge pool of new voters. That may be the ultimate motivation to those on the Left. Exposing that motive and endorsing better, moral motives on behalf of the Right is a must. In essence, to the Left Hispanics are just another lackey constituency upon which they can count on for votes. Refocus the discussion on the morality of immigration reform.
Some liberals responded that the legalization of marijuana should be on the agenda. Most people will be watching Colorado's experience this year. Also, many complain that this should be an area where states can experiment in order to raise revenue, decrease the black market, and lower incarceration rates and save law enforcement dollars. The only problem is the federal government. Hence, perhaps the best thing Republicans can do in this area is have marijuana removed from the list of Class I drugs which would allow states more leeway in this area and get the DEA and people like Eric Holder out of the mix.
There were the usual calls for greater use of green energy. Yeah, yeah, blah, blah, blah... I do not know of a single Republican or conservative who is against solar, wind or other so-called "renewable energy" sources. Conversely, I know of many liberals who are against cleaner fuels like natural gas and nuclear energy. To this writer, renewable energy comes under the "all of the above" rubric. What conservatives object to is the heavy federal subsidization of these programs. Liberals are quick to point to the subsidies afforded "Big Oil," but turn a blind eye to subsidies for solar, wind, geothermal and ethanol fuels and energy. Just end subsidies across the board and tell America's farmers to grow crops for food.
In an odd twist of fate, the Left has aligned itself with some Libertarian conservatives over the so-called "surveillance state." Obama is supposedly addressing an overhaul of the entire apparatus and practices. Here, Republicans should tread softly since we may be removing the very tools necessary to "connect the dots" and stop a terrorist attack. As long as there is sufficient congressional and judicial (through FISA courts) oversight, there should be no problem. I don't like the idea of having my e-mail intercepted and possibly read. On the other hand, I have nothing to hide either. Thus, the solution is building in enough safeguards to protect the civil liberties of Americans without denying the intelligence community a valuable tool. This can and should be done.
In 2014, liberals vow to take on the privatization of education and stop charter schools, school voucher and other conservative educational reform ideas and attempt to divert even more financial resources into public education. Here, they have willing allies in the NEA and their state counterparts. The problem is that the vast majority of taxpayers- who outnumber NEA members by far- have greater power. Illustrating examples of good money chasing bad outcomes is a must at every opportunity. No one begrudges the truly competent teacher who makes a nice salary. If they deserve it, then they deserve it. But, do not insult my intelligence and tell me that by virtue of graduating from a teacher program someone is eligible for a starting salary of $50,000 a year. That is the stated goal in my home state by the NJEA: "50 by 15," which translates to a $50,000 starting salary by 2015. And please don't tell me that basing a teacher's pay on their performance cannot be done. It was done in Minnesota, Colorado and other states. Meanwhile, the opportunity for lower income students to opt out of failing public schools with government assistance (vouchers, tax credits, whatever) is a winning argument with minorities. Why should a minority student be chained to a failing public school when their white, affluent counterpart almost views private education as a birthright? If you want a civil rights issue, this is a legitimate one. Incidentally, if you want to eat away at the Democratic vote advantage with Hispanics, education is their number one priority. This is a winning argument with Hispanics.
And finally, they (Liberals) aim to stem the tide of state anti-abortion laws. I find it ironic that there is more informed consent involved in the removal of a carbuncle or cyst than there is to receive an abortion. I find it strange that today's feminist argues for safe, sanitary, low-cost abortions but then fights laws designed to enhance patient safety or the sanitary conditions of abortion clinics. I venture a majority of Americans including many independents and moderates- certainly enough to form a majority- do not like the government funding entities like Planned Parenthood. Instead of diverting their financial resources to fight laws, perhaps they should use that money to fill in the spending gap. The national mood over abortion shifts every so often and right now it is pro-life. Concentrating on overturning Roe is an exercise in futility, but using the tools given by the Supreme Court at the state level (informed consent, surgical and drug regulation, parental notification, etc.) the pro-life movement can stay one step ahead of the pro-choice movement which is clearly behind the curve when it comes to fighting battles at the state level. The idea is not to go overboard and frame the entire discussion as in the interests of protecting only the unborn, which is justification enough. But, we should also show that these laws are designed to protect the bearers of the unborn. In this way, the "war on women" argument reverses to a Democratic/liberal/feminist "war on the unborn." Turn the tables on these people. And by going overboard, I refer to outright bans on abortion or "personhood" amendments. But, clearly increased regulation after 20 weeks is a no-brainer because there is scientific evidence to back up the pro-life arguments and liberals claim to be big on scientific evidence.