As a Virginia delegate to the 2012 Republican National Convention and conservative voter who came of age during George W. Bush’s second term, I believe true conservatives still have a lot of work to do to help put the GOP on the path toward limited, constitutional government.
The tea party wave that swept dozens of new Republican members of Congress into office has changed the debate in Washington, but we must continue to put pressure on our elected officials to cut the size and scope of the federal government.
To that end, I believe there are five key issues that the Republican Party should adopt as part of its platform at the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa:
1.) A comprehensive audit of the Federal Reserve. What was once only a fantasy of Texas Congressman Ron Paul is now one of the most important policy debates in Washington. HR 459 — The Federal Reserve Transparency Act — has more than 270 co-sponsors in the House and would shine light on our nation’s monetary policy.
For too long, this private organization has worked behind closed doors to manipulate the U.S. dollar, leading to abuse, inflation, and a lower quality of life for all Americans. Congressional Republicans have led the fight for increased government transparency under this administration, and it’s time to make transparency of the Federal Reserve a top priority.
2.) An unrestricted and unregulated Internet that unleashes the entrepreneurial spirit. The Internet has revolutionized modern commerce and communication, connecting small towns in Kansas to retailers in New York City, London, and beyond. It has broken down language and cultural barriers. And it has fostered a greater sense of community. The reason for such dramatic advancements in just a few years is that the Internet isn’t burdened with excessive government regulations.
“Net Neutrality” measures like SOPA, PIPA, CISPA, and others, under the guise of stopping online piracy, threatens to shackle the Internet and stifle future advancements. Republicans must be strong advocates for a free and accessible Internet that allows entrepreneurs and innovators to connect us to our neighbors and make our lives easier.
3.) Oppose indefinite detention of U.S. citizens. The notion of “habeas corpus” is older than our nation’s founding, and it is enshrined in our Constitution as a protection against unlawful and arbitrary detention by the state; however, politicians in both parties have used terrorist threats to justify indefinitely detaining U.S. citizens without sufficient justification or cause.
I don’t doubt there are folks who want to disrupt our way of life and commit unspeakable acts against us, but we must take precautions to protect U.S. citizens from unconstitutional expansions of government power.
4.) Get serious about spending cuts. Before the 2010 election, Republicans promised to make sizeable cuts to the federal budget, but those promises never manifested themselves. In fact, since Republicans took the House, they’ve taken us deeper into debt. A measure proposed by Congressman Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) to shave a penny off every dollar the federal government spends was met with harsh criticism from Appropriations Subcommittee Chairmen Frank Wolf of Virginia and Rodney Frelinghuysen of New Jersey, both Republicans. These two routinely take to the House floor to rail against responsible cuts to the federal budget.
The current path is unsustainable. Playing around with a penny on every dollar the government spends isn’t much, but it’s a step in the right direction. Unfortunately, we can’t get every Republican on the same page. Republicans who refuse to get serious about the national debt and federal spending should be held accountable at the ballot box.
5.) Support only constitutional declarations of war. Regardless of whether or not you believe we should be in Iraq, or Afghanistan, or Libya, or Iran, there are clear channels to commit troops to war. The Constitution holds that only Congress can declare war.
Unfortunately, since the end of World War II, presidents have largely ignored this provision of the Constitution and committed troops to places like Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, and many other countries without a formal declaration of war.
After four years of the disastrous Obama administration, I’m ready to change direction. Polls indicate that voters in my age demographic are trending away from Obama. Young people like me are up for grabs in this election, and I believe the issues I listed above are important to voters my age.
I hope the Republican Party will listen to the thousands of grassroots activists who helped elect many new Republicans in 2010 and those who are currently working to elect Republicans in this cycle. I also hope the GOP will welcome and embrace the thousands of liberty-minded young people like me who want to return the party to its roots and protect the Constitution by reining in the power of the federal government and expanding the freedom of the people.
Matthew Hurtt is a Ron Paul-supporting, Mitt Romney-bound At-Large Delegate from Virginia to the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa. Follow him on Twitter: @matthewhurtt