Americans have sent a clear message that must be reflected upon: As Republicans, we are not trusted to lead this country. After the results from eight years of a George Bush Presidency and six years of a Republican Congress, voters decided it was time for change. Who can blame them?
Democrats promised voters they would deliver the essential functions of government, such as a dependable economy and consistent national defense, while acting responsibly and effectively. Their promise of post-partisan politics was appealing as well, considering the growing desire among voters to elect representatives who will work for all Americans, not just a political party.
This remains a center-right nation, ideologically, but the last two election cycles demonstrated that Americans are willing to look past differences on the major issues and take a chance on candidates who have promised to be more productive and competent than their predecessors. This represents a shift in the political landscape, away from ideology and towards pragmatism.
To move this country forward, Republicans and Democrats must work together to develop the best solutions for the serious problems our country faces. Just as Republicans and Democrats allied after the disasters of September 11th, both parties must join together to guarantee America's problems are resolved. As Americans, we must demand that our elected representatives cooperate to solve the very serious dilemmas in America right now.
Some question the conservative credentials of Republicans willing to work with Democrats, but it should be stated that the goal is never to dilute conservatism via compromise. Republicans must never acquiesce or waver in defense of our core conservative principles: strong national defense, free market capitalism, freedom and liberty for individuals, decreased tax burden for all taxpayers, and limited waste in government. While Republicans will not win each battle, we must always be prepared to defend and promote our principles. If not, both Americans and Republicans will lose.
Delivering on the promise of good bipartisan government requires that liberal and conservative tenets are represented in every discussion. Unfortunately, when Republicans offered conservative additions to a very liberal stimulus plan, they were swiftly rejected by Congressional Democrats and President Barack Obama. We should all support Republican Congressmen in their fight to protect capitalism and lower taxes on middle and low-income workers.
Regrettably, vocal conservatives derided their actions as traitorous, instead of rallying support. This criticism is not only juxtaposed to the economic interests of the country, but also inhibits Republican efforts to rebuild our damaged credibility. As a party, we cannot afford to become marginalized reactionaries who simply oppose for the sake of opposition. The outcome of such mindless opposition would be legislation without input from Republicans, robbing Americans of conservative principles that will help in these difficult times.
With Democrats controlling the executive and legislative branches of government, they will undoubtedly advance a liberal agenda. Because of such control, Republicans have only two clear choices of action—fight Democrats in futility or collaborate to ensure our conservative principles are represented. But be forewarned, trading insults back and forth will not stall overtly liberal plans.
Once both political parties acknowledge the benefit of collaboration, they will be able to provide the most needed improvements for our nation. Republicans will also receive an invaluable opportunity to reassert credibility and narrow the trust gap with the American people. When this is combined with expanded outreach to young and minority voters, Republicans will enjoy a vastly improved electoral outlook.
In the end, it doesn't matter to most Americans if something comes from a Democrat or Republican. Everyone desires a government that works. Americans must demand that both Republicans and Democrats place America ahead of partisanship. It's imperative that we are all Americans first, partisans second.
Lauren is the Head Editor at New Republicans and a Senior at West Coast Baptist College in Los Angeles. Patrick is the Chairman Emeritus of the Texas Federation of College Republicans and a Sophomore at Collin College in Dallas. Both are experienced campaign staffers.