The coming election is a debate defined not only by competing ideologies and policies, but competing ways of governing. There is little doubt that President Obama favors one form of governing, and that is what I call the government of One. One Ideology, One Party, and One Man.
In his first two years in office, with the benefit of supermajorities in Congress, he was able to enact legislation of his choosing and his design. He decided what went in and what didn’t. He delegated to a handful of members of Congress the responsibility to write specific laws — and left other members out.
Now things are different. He no longer enjoys a compliant Congress. Not surprisingly, he has spoken longingly of leading a centralized, planned, command-and-control government.
It is time for the Republican party to offer an alternative. Not just an alternative to President Obama’s agenda of liberal government, which is important to do. We need to present an alternative to his approach to governance in general. An approach that applies to every elected office.
We should be the party of free thinking and free markets. We should be the party of policy experimentation and fresh approaches. We should be the party of competing ideas. We should allow our ideas to be tested and force our ideas to prove their value in practice.
We already have a model for this form of governance, and it can be found in the diversity of our Republican governors. From veterans like Mitch Daniels of Indiana and Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, to newcomers like Chris Christie of New Jersey we have seen a multiplicity of policy ideas and approaches. Some mirror each other. Some contradict each other. On taxes and spending, these governors often (but not always) agree. On immigration and social policy, they frequently disagree. We have seen a multiplicity of policy ideas and approaches. Some mirror each other. Some contradict each other. On taxes and spending, these governors often (but not always) agree. On immigration and social policy, they frequently disagree.
The animating force of this governance is diversity and creativity of thinking. And that is how the Republican party should always be. We are broad thinkers and confident believers in America. We are serious about finding solutions for the problems we face in our communities. And we will not limit the ideas we consider in helping America reach for greatness.
This does not mean an abandonment of principle. Far from it. We will be guided meaningfully by the first principles of our party and this nation. First above all is our fundamental belief in the individual as the center of opportunity and ideological energy. We do not believe that government creates prosperity or drives it. Like the founders of our country, we know a self-regulating and responsible people is essential to limit the scope and ambition of government. We resist the urge to substitute regulations and governmental directives for entrepreneurial creativity and civic service. We believe that the best government is that which is smallest and the most just government is that which treats all citizens and entities equally, with no special favors and no special sanctions.
We believe that there is no way for leaders to direct the dreams and ambitions of 312 million Americans — and so we believe fundamentally in freedom. Let individuals direct themselves to whatever heights they aspire to reach, and let them enjoy the benefits of their success because they bear significant responsibility for the risks they take.