By Judd Gregg - 12/17/12 10:00 AM EST
The Republican Party has marginalized itself over issues that inflame passions but do not substantively add to our nation’s prosperity or purpose.
To start, the party has allowed itself to be defined by people who speak in a language that narrows our cause of being a better nation for all.
Intolerance is at the core of the dialogue among those who have become the face of the party. That attitude, that approach, must be rejected.
We need to be the party of inclusion and opportunity.
A number of ideas need to be discarded.
The Lord does not speak through the Republican Party, Rick Santorum or any other self-anointed individual who claims he, or she, has cornered the market on faith.
The party must embrace persons of all faiths and not have a few try and impose their self-discovered doctrines on everyone else.
We need to respect those who differ on matters of conscience involving social issues.
These issues fall in the category of “non-debatable,” since people have reached their views based on their personal beliefs – and rarely is anyone going to change anybody else’s mind on them.
A person can be pro-abortion rights, or be gay, and be strongly committed to the values which are at the core of our party, especially relative to the size of the government and the importance of individual rights and initiative.
We do not have to agree, but we do need to have tolerance on these issues within the party.
Fiscal policy cannot be run out of some high-rent lobbyist’s office in downtown Washington.
It cannot involve positions that poison the ability to govern in a fiscally-responsible way.
Republicans stand for limited government, and the best way to limit government is to limit its revenues. But this does not mean that you do not have revenues, or that you do not have to adjust how you tax people.
We should not be a party of quirky and quaint — even conspiratorial — economic ideas.
The Federal Reserve, Wall Street and the big labor unions all have problems, but it is escapism to lay the failure to run a fiscally-disciplined economy and government at their feet.
The problem is spending.
The problem is that we promise more in government than we can afford, and the Republican party needs to avoid being sidetracked from this assertion.
Leave economic populism and the class warfare it breeds to the left.
The Republican party needs to speak to the truth that we have a government that is not affordable and which will bankrupt our children’s future.
Immigration is our great renewer, the essence of the resilience of our country.
It is a major part of what makes America a totally unique experience in the history of nations.
It is inexcusable that the party of Lincoln has allowed itself to be positioned — by shouters within it — as a party that opposes people who seek to participate in the opportunity of America.
We must put forward policies of inclusion that acknowledge that those who have come here illegally, but have been here for years as constructive participants in our society, should not be put in a position where they can be exploited.
This does not mean granting citizenship. It does mean we need to secure our borders, create a viable guest-worker program, expand programs that encourage people with talents we need to come here. We should also allow those who have been here for a considerable amount of time, and acted well, to obtain a legal status that ends their need to hide so they cannot be taken advantage of.
Immigration should be a winner for Republicans.
After all, the people who come to America do so to seek opportunity through their own efforts.
They work hard, are family-oriented and often have deep values and faith.
The Republican Party should embrace them, but instead we put a stick in their eye when we allow the face of the party to be defined by intolerant and shallow candidates.
This nation needs a strong Republican Party at this time as much as at any time in recent history. We are trying to right our fiscal ship and reinvigorate our culture of economic growth and individual opportunity.
Republicans know how to do this. We must have a resurgence in the GOP, but it will require that we look to include, under our banner of optimism, everyone who believes that it is the people of this nation who make it great not the government.
Let that belief be our gathering point, and abandon those who want to marginalize us.
Judd Gregg is a former governor and three-term senator from New Hampshire who served as chairman and ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee and as ranking member of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on Foreign Operations. He also is an international adviser to Goldman Sachs.