If the Republicans want a guide on how they should campaign in 2008, they ought to look at the campaign of Nicholas Sarkozy in France for inspiration. In 2007, Sarkozy painted himself as the agent of change and his opponent, Segolene Royal, as the agent of the establishment and rode that to victory. The irony is that it was Sarkozy that was a part of the unpopular government of Jacques Chirac and Royal that was a member of the opposition government. He did this by identifying those things that the French people found objectionable about his own government's rule and then proposing substantive reforms to it. Rather than running away from or needlessly defending the failed policies, he took them all head on and painted himself, not his opponent, as the agent of change.
While no comparison is exact, there is plenty to learn from Sarkozy's masterful campaign. I think the Republicans, lead by McCain, need to focus on fiyr core issues and turn themselves into the agent and turn the Democrats into the party of the same failed policies.
1)Smaller government and fiscally responsibility. This used to be hallmark issues for the Republicans until power got to their collective heads, and they used spending as some sort of bribing mechanism to get votes. McCain has been out front on this issue and needs to lead a new Republican revolution on spending and smaller government.
The Democrats, on the other hand, have been the agent's of bigger government. They all want universal health care, government lead stimulus, and more interference in the mortgage market. All of these policies lead to more bureaucracy, more waste, and more corruption, and they must be labeled as such.
The contrast must be created. One party is ready to lead toward smaller more efficient government, and the other wants to expand government even more.
2)Victory in Iraq and generally aggressive foreign policy.
It is high time that Republicans stop running away from Iraq as an issue and turn it into albatross on the Democrats not themselves. We have a successful policy. That policy was created and implemented by General David Petraeus. One party wants to give Petraeus the time he needs to fully implement this policy so that it leads to victory, and the other wants to pull troops out as soon as they can. McCain is the perfect voice for victory in Iraq. He has the credibility, and he was the first to call out the failed Rumsfeld strategy. Obama is a foreign policy lightweight who is proposing a radical change of an effective policy. This is not something to run away from but to challenge and bring to the forefront as much as possible.
Secondly, the Democrats are for re tooling the Patriot Act, eliminating warrantless wiretapping, eliminating Gitmo, and moving most terrorists into federal court. The Republicans want aggressive sanctions against countries like Iraq, whereas the Democrats want to meet unconditionally with their leaders. The leading Presidential candidate has already said so, and the Speaker has already met with one. The Republicans must make this a choice between the party that wants to keep us safe and the party that wants to protect the rights of terrorists and respect the wishes and concerns of our enemy. It is easy to frame the issue as such and the Democrats inaction on warrantless wiretapping only adds to this perception.
3)Strict Constructionist Judges
I have said it before and I will say it again. Barack Obama is to the left of Planned Parenthood on abortion. If a baby is aborted and that abortion fails and the baby survives, Obama is fine with killing the baby anyway, infanticide. The Dems have already hitched their wagons to partial birth abortion. All of these radical social stances along with things like taking under God out of the pledge, gay marriage, and other issues are created by activist judges. The Republicans must stand firmly behind strict constructionist judges and make that another campaign issue.
4) Attack global warming, alternative energy, and other eco friendly issues through aggressive tax cuts. If the Republicans get behind Newt Gingrich's green conservatism, they will offer an alternative for dealing with these issues. These problems come down to one basic debate: do you believe that this is government's problem to solve or do you want to empower the private sector with the tools to solve it? Rather than dismissing these issues as trivial, over blown and non existent, the Republicans must firmly stand behind offering free market, small government solutions to them. I propose cutting the capital gains tax to zero on all alternative energy, anti global warming, and other eco friendly sources.
If the Republicans move away from proving whether these things are real or important, and move toward deciding whether you want to expand government or the private sector to deal with them, then I think they will get on the right side of the issues.
Please check out my new books, "Prosecutors Gone Wild: The Inside Story of the Trial of Chuck Panici, John Gliottoni, and Louise Marshall" and also, "The Definitive Dossier of PTSD in Whistleblowers"