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article imageOp-Ed: GOP platform — Still ‘anything but Obama’

By Edgar Wilson     Aug 11, 2015 in Politics
As much as GOP hopefuls tried to distinguish themselves in the first debate of the 2016 presidential election, they sounded a lot of the same notes.
Namely, they were virtually unanimous on the necessity of undoing as much as possible of what U.S. President Barack Obama has done in office. From executive orders to the Affordable Care Act, the one guarantee offered by Republican candidates is that dismantling Obama’s presidential legacy takes top priority.
Meet the New Boss…
Outside of the executive orders — an enumerated presidential power — the future president will be challenged to get Congress and the national bureaucracy on board with a wholesale reset of American policy and legislation from the last eight years.
More to the point, it would be misguided and counterproductive to prioritize rewriting the past over new policy aimed at securing the future.
Obamacare was always destined to be cumbersome, its implementation hazardous, and its scope of reform ultimately incomplete. The GOP field needs to move beyond tapping that frustration and offer real progress in their alternatives—in other words, actual substance, rather than simply promising change. Change, after all, was Obama’s slogan, and voters are still asking his administration, “Where’s the beef?” If the new boss is to be anything other than the same as the old boss, now is the time to show it.
While the repeal and replace anthem on Obamacare was heard — if not chanted, as it has been over the last five years — during both debates, little else was offered as far as what comes next for America’s health system.
Rowing in Different Directions
Much more criticism was leveled at the Obama administration over foreign policy than healthcare. On the surface, this is a positive development: the president has more command over foreign policy than domestic, so what the candidates say on the subject carries more weight than any promises that hinge on getting Congress to go along with them.
Unfortunately, the echoing sentiment of a Republican about-face on anything Obama endorsed or attempted shows one of the dangers of America’s presidential elections: fluctuating popular opinion can make continuity in foreign policy hard to maintain.
What is more, foreign policy and national security issues can turn on a dime: despite the best guesses from the intelligence community, the biggest events on the global stage are often unpredictable — as opposed to domestic issues, which shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone.
American healthcare is rife with ongoing challenges completely separate from Obamacare: an aging populace exacerbates a shortage of caregivers; overdue technology upgrades threaten the financial viability and operational competence of clinics and practices of all sizes; doctors and nurses are caught behind of the curve of medical science by an education system that is unaffordable and resistant to meaningful reform — the list goes on.
All Quiet on the Progress Front
So while the Republican candidates insist on change without appraising the impact of current foreign policy, they simultaneously ignore their chance to spell out how pressing, visible domestic issues in healthcare can be alleviated.
The general approach seems to be: silence where alternatives could be offered, and indignation where the situation is fluid.
The first debate of the Republican primary contest proved surprisingly substantive, with both questions and answers throughout shedding light on candidate differences, policy priorities, and generally giving voters a real sense of just what their choices are. Unfortunately, when it came to dissecting Obama and his policies, candidates fell back on the cynically weightless assertion that any alternative is certain to be better than what Obama did, so why bother detailing real alternatives?
The details matter. One debate is certainly not enough to get the full sweep of GOP visions for the future, but the outlook is dim for any candidate to offer something besides the “anything but Obama” line on how the future will be brighter. Consistency from the oval office is rare enough; change for the sake of change is less helpful than allowing policy to play out and provide real evidence of what did or did not work.
Simply promising to undo the past is not only senseless, it guarantees progress will never happen. The next president needs to look further than the last eight years to forge an agenda for office.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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