Regardless of who wins the Republican presidential nomination, the GOP is uniquely positioned to present a compelling message guaranteed to attract millions of American voters come November. That message is that each of us has the power to choose what’s best for ourselves and for our families. That message embodies the essence of freedom itself and what it means to be an adult living in America right now.
Republicans can and should describe their vision as one in which we all have choices and can make decisions in almost every area of our lives.
Republicans, for example, want parents to be able to choose where to educate their children. Whether it’s at a home school, charter school, private school, or public school, every American parent should have a say in where their kids learn. In this way, Republicans are standing up against teachers unions and many Democrats who oppose school choice.
During National School Choice Week, the Black Alliance for Educational Options cited a 2015 report showing that 28 percent of charter school students are black — nearly double the enrollment percentage of black children in traditional public schools. That’s a reflection that their parents, and not education bureaucrats, know what’s best for them.
Republicans also want Americans to be able to decide whether they should have to join a union in their workplace. Since Wisconsin repealed most collective bargaining for many public employees and approved right-to-work legislation, blocking unions and private employers from contracts requiring workers to pay labor fees, union membership in both the public and private sectors in that state has plummeted.
This year, the Supreme Court will decide a case involving mandatory union fees. Today, 25 states embrace the job-creation and economic potential of outlawing mandatory union dues — but the scales are about to tip. West Virginia is in the process of becoming the 26th state to enact right-to-work legislation. Imagine how many other dissatisfied union workers across the country also want this freedom and would welcome hearing Republicans advocate for their right to pull out of union dues.
Republicans want Americans to be able to do business with each other — without the heavy hand of the government restricting or even blocking opportunities for them to buy great services from other Americans in the on-demand economy. Americans should be able to capitalize on their personal financial investments in their homes and cars by participating in the sharing economy.
And Republicans support policies that promote ridesharing and homesharing — business models that give Americans more choice. Millions of Americans love the service they get from Lyft and Uber. Tens of thousands of Americans are now making extra money by providing their car and their driving skills to serve other citizens. And services like Airbnb give travelers the option to stay in areas unserved by hotels — or even near hotels. Traveling is becoming more affordable for more Americans — and those same Americans are making money by letting people use parts or all of their homes. The sharing economy is not — and should not be — a partisan issue, but Republicans can take the lead and promote policies that support choice in the new economy.
Americans want to be able to buy cheaper prescription drugs from Canada and other developed countries. They’re tired of paying the highest prescription drug prices in the world because the White House cut a bad deal with drug companies to get Obamacare. Republicans should follow the lead of some in their party who advocate for Americans’ ability to choose where they buy their prescription medication.
Republicans want Americans to have a choice with respect to who we trade with and who we let inside our borders. Republicans value the lower prices and strong economy free trade provides. Republicans also recognize we should carefully select immigrants who will enhance America and our economy, and not allow in those who will violate our laws and terrorize our citizens.
Republicans want Americans to have a choice in the foods they eat, the beverages they drink, and whether they can “vape” to quit smoking. Republicans recognize there’s a role for government in educating Americans and requiring disclosures, but banning useful products should be the last resort.
Many Democrats support some of the policies laid out above. For example, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe recognizes the value Uber and Lyft provide to consumers and job seekers. Rep. John Delaney (D-MD) supports the federal D.C. Opportunity Scholarship school voucher program. And Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo is one of the few governors to fully legalize homesharing in their state. But talk of “choice” on the left often refers to abortion — a difficult issue still dividing Americans.
Republicans can attract voter support by arguing forcefully that Americans are adults and can make reasonable choices and decisions in most areas of their own lives. After all, that’s why the Founding Fathers created this nation more than two centuries ago — so that We the People could be in charge of our own destinies.
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