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Missing: my Republican party. Please help me find it.

I have been a life-long Republican (I first voted in 1968), but lately I seem to have lost my party, and I’m hoping you can help me find it. Let me describe it for you.

By Steven K. Brierley / February 9, 2012

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum attends a tea party Rally Jan. 31 in Las Vegas.

John Gurzinski/AP Photo

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Westford, Mass.

I have been a life-long Republican (I first voted in 1968), but lately I seem to have lost my party, and I’m hoping you can help me find it. Let me describe it for you.

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I am looking for a Republican party that has the intelligence to know the difference between the firm foundation of a political philosophy and the straitjacket of a rigid ideology. 

I am looking for a Republican party that has enough humility to recognize that good ideas sometimes come from others (Democrats!). We used to work across the aisle and craft useful bipartisan legislation. Yet what we hear on the campaign trail this year is that nearly everything that President Obama has done or proposed is seriously misguided, if not fundamentally wrong.

I am looking for a Republican party that understands the true meaning of our federalist system of government. While the federal government should not be an intrusive leviathan, and should be streamlined to be as efficient as possible, it has an important role to play in providing the infrastructure necessary for economic growth. (Think Abraham Lincoln and the transcontinental railroad or the land grant colleges).

Equally important, it has a role in creating the social infrastructure that enables people to prosper. One may debate the depth and breadth of that role, and what that social infrastructure should look like, but no matter how you slice it, government still has a that role to play.

I am looking for a Republican party that is fiscally conservative, not fiscally irresponsible. The economic straits we are in now are the result of a combination of factors (some being poor policy decisions by the previous, Republican administration), and the situation will take a multi-pronged approach to solve.

The short-term focus must be on providing sufficient liquidity (via expansionary economic and fiscal policies) to enable the economy to grow. Long-term, we must drastically reduce the deficit. This should be done primarily, but not exclusively, through reduced spending. I am dismayed by the widespread acceptance of pledges to never ever, under any circumstances whatsoever (even after Democratic concessions to cut entitlements), raise taxes (see rigid ideology above).

Spending cuts in entitlement programs should make up most of the solution for cutting the debt and deficit, but an important component should also come from a simplified tax code with no loopholes for special interests that does, in fact, raise additional revenue.

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