On Saturday, Republicans at their party's convention in Idaho Falls made national news by adopting a platform full of very conservative ideals, including a loyalty oath, a call for the repeal of the 17th Amendment, and language asking Republican officials to support the end of the income tax. A state lawmaker who attended the event, Rep. Steve Thayn, R-Emmett, says Republicans need to focus on cementing plans for the ideas or risk scaring away potential voters.
On his blog, entitled "Common Sense Solutions," Thayn wrote Wednesday that conservatives in the Republican Party may be moving too fast for the comfort of the general public and that they must slow their evolution and allow for the forming of comprehensive policy plans. "I fear the conservatives are committing two major mistakes. First, they are impatient and want to move too quickly, which will scare the voters. Second, they have little strategy to implement their policies. They have confused principle adoption with policy formation," Thayn argued.
Conservatives, Thayn said, see their principles, but fail to see the effects those principles could have on public policy if implemented. "For example, the convention voted to repeal the income tax; yet, had no suggestions on how to reduce spending to make these tax cuts possible. Tax cuts cannot come without spending cuts; yet, no resolution was introduced indicating where spending reductions could or should take place," he said.
Additionally, Thayn believes Republicans may shoot themselves in the foot at the polls in November if they fail to present the public with viable, well-explained arguments for cutting spending at the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare and reforming school funding along with reductions in taxes. If not, he said, Republicans ideals will be nullified. "The conservatives in the Republican Party need to formulate policy initiatives to deal with social programs in Health and Welfare that require 20 percent of the State budget and education that requires another 65 percent of the state budget. Until I hear these two issues being addressed, I don’t see any real changes taking place in Idaho or at the federal level," Thayn concluded.
Thayn is not the only lawmaker critical of the new platform. Rep. Maxine Bell, R-Jerome, was not thrilled that convention-goers chose to adopt the loyalty oath, which requires candidates to promise to govern according the party’s platform or write a list of platform planks in which they disagree. If candidates chose to write the list, it would be released by the party chairman no less than 40 days prior to elections. Bell told IdahoReporter.com said that the requirement to publish areas where Republicans disagree with the party is a bad practice. ”Should I be in that position, it would give my Democratic opponent tremendous fodder to go against me in my campaign,” Bell said.
(Read IdahoReporter.com's full summary of the 2010 GOP platform here.)