After a national address featuring a set new of promises, the Tea Party has struck back.
In response to President Obama's first State of the Union address of his second term, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) pointed the finger at Democrats and Republicans alike for being "guilty of spending too much." Recently elected Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) is also hoping to change the face of the GOP; some have been calling him "The Republican Barack Obama."
It is no secret that after a combination of getting crushed in consecutive elections and increasing inner-party tension that Republicans are seeking a new brand. A failure to reach out to minorities, young people, and the LGBT community spelled doom for the GOP in 2012, and threatens to again in the future.
Paul's criticisms come largely off the back of Reagan-esque idealism: "Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem." Cruz has continued this sentiment, albeit in a far more personal tone. "I think President Obama is the most radical president we've ever seen," he has said on the record. Apparently, Cruz has gotten through the first few chapters of U.S. history; if progressive politics is the straw horse he seeks to build and kick down, he might be better served aiming at FDR or LBJ.
In order to best assess if Cruz and Paul are viable as the future leaders of the GOP, it would help to summarize their platform: we want smaller government! This appeal is nothing new, however, and only pushes back the necessary, serious dialogue between conservatives and liberals. A failure to come to terms by both sides as they hail their "principles" utterly and completely stalled American politics the past four years. The only thing Rand Paul and Ted Cruz can offer is to stomp their feet louder.
It is not "smaller" government that taxpayers deserve; effective governmental policies aimed at priming the future of the U.S. economy are what taxpayers, and especially millennials, deserve. So, "more tax cuts!" right? According to American Enterprise Institute fellow Ramesh Ponnuru, this tired argument is precisely what is crippling the GOP.
Smaller government through decreased regulations and taxes does little to seriously address the long-term objectives the U.S. economy needs. Rather, it will be investments in science, education, and innovative manufacturing practices that clear the way for future economic prosperity. In order for U.S. businesses to maintain and increase their market share in an increasingly globalized economy, one component almost goes without saying: the workforce must be properly eqquipped with the mental capital needed for businesses to thrive and boom. This does not come through mere smaller government; this is a product of intelligent policy willing to prepare America for an economic future that will only get more competitive.
So while Rand Paul and Ted Cruz continue with their outdated and unproductive criticisms, be wishful that they are silenced. Rand Paul is correct in that although Republicans carry the banner of fiscal responsibility, they too must learn to check their habits. A fiscally wise government is absolutely needed for America's future. That is for certain. But there is a difference between a government that invests in its own human capital and one that merely cuts everything under the sun. If America's businesses are to succeed in the future, pray that they must not do so with an internationally below-par labor force.
Small government is sound in principle, but this success hardly relays itself to reality. Paul and Cruz offer sentiment that is easy and wonderful to latch onto, but fails to adequately put forth the necessary pieces needed for Amerca's future.