As The 2016 Field Warms Up, Only Republicans Are Having A Real Debate

Fred Malek Founder and Chairman, Thayer Capital Partners
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As Hillary Clinton coasts to the Democratic nomination, avoiding questions from reporters, Republicans are gearing up for a real debate on the most important issues to take our country forward.

The fact that the Republican field is so large is testament to the fact that our party is experiencing a vibrant debate. An open debate is how you find the next great leaders. You don’t coronate one. After eight years of hyper-partisan gridlock, this wild primary season is exactly what we need to be competitive and challenge the status quo. A broad center right coalition focused on proposing big ideas will mobilize voters and counter opposition attempts at focusing on wedge issues. Voters turnout for substance, not sound bites.

The stakes are high for 2016. Voters are disappointed with President Obama’s failures. They are growing more concerned with our stature in the world and disillusioned with business as usual from Washington.

The jobs agenda coming out of Congress is a good start. And national security leaders in our party are charting a course for a more assertive approach to the dangers we are facing overseas.

Mrs. Clinton and her allies will proclaim that the deck is stacked in favor of those at the top. They will demagogue issues, blame Wall Street, and accuse Republicans of throwing seniors off a cliff. They will say we are trying to take the country backwards. They will try to distance the Former Secretary of State from her former boss and from her record as Secretary, but the reality is that most Americans have fared worse with the Democrats running the show, and a Clinton presidency would just be more of the same.

Campaigns are about the future and Hillary Clinton represents the past. Republicans have the opportunity to demonstrate that they represent a path forward.

The ongoing debate over expanding trade is a good place to start. Ironically, this is one of the few areas where the Obama administration is willing to embrace pro-growth policies. Clinton has remained largely silent on the issue in fear of isolating her liberal base. Embracing Congressional leadership’s plan to adopt fast track trade measures is a good strategy for national Republicans to seize on what could be a major legislative victory later this year.

Tax reform, entitlement reform, and immigration reform are three other areas that deserve attention from candidates who are serious about making the U.S. more competitive. The American Action Forum, a group that I founded to promote center right common sense policy solutions, released an outline last month that would put the U.S. on track to reaching a balance in federal spending and growth. All of the candidates will have their own proposals, but it is these types of substantive ideas that will elevate a Republican to the White House.

Careful reasoning and substantive debate will prove to the American people that the Republican Party is a responsible right of center governing alternative to failed liberal policies. Congressional Republicans’ modest but commendable legislative victories over the past several months should help set the stage and broaden the party’s appeal.

This strong group of candidates is capable of doing great things for our country. Primary season will certainly be full of heated debates and differences of opinion, but with the right approach we can put forward a serious candidate who will be able to run on a strong platform focused on jobs, the economy and national security.

Republicans are getting ready for a serious conversation with the American people on how to clean up Obama’s mess. The candidate who demonstrates they’re above the fray and serious about laying out a vision for America will get my support.