Democrat Barack Obama has won reelection over Republican challenger Mitt Romney, yet the Republicans have retained control of the House. This status quo at a time when the country must move forward will force both major parties to change. Where will these changes leave me?

To the Republicans:

You can win me. I want economic growth. I want progress. I’m not convinced that trickle down economics is the path to growth, but maybe I’m wrong. Make an argument and onvince me. I’m listening.

But in order to win me you’ll have to change. Give up your opposition to abortion and gay marriage. Stop trying to tell people how to live – it’s none of your business.

Give up this crazy dedication to the NRA. Semi-automatic weapons designed to kill lots of people at once are not legitimate objects of trade, any more than grenades or bazookas are.

Give up this insistence on no tax increases ever on anyone. It’s dogma, not policy. Taxes should adjust to situations as needed.

Give up this crazy war on science. Stop calling scientists liars when they come up with a finding you don’t like. Climate change is happening, and people are causing it. What we do about it, that’s the debate. Changing the debate into a rebuke of scientists damages the standing of science in our society, and that’s the opposite of what we need to grow and progress.

While we’re on the subject of science, evolution is a fact, and needs to be taught as such in public schools. And speaking of schools, public schools could be a lot better, but your mindless testing makes them worse. Your vouchers are a thinly-veiled attempt to funnel tax money to religious institutions, which run most of the private schools you tout. So stop that. Public school is for everyone, and vouchers sap them of their strength.

Stop opposing reasonable health care reform. While I believe in the free enterprise system, there are real concerns about the ability of private insurers to provide everyone with proper care. We’ve already decided that we won’t live in the sort of society that lets people die in the street; now we need to find a way to pay for our decision.

More than anything else, don’t ever again institute voting rules designed to suppress the votes of those unlikely to support you. Everyone deserves a voice, even if that voice is opposed to yours. Voter suppression can never, ever be part of American politics.

Finally, stop talking about religion. Fine, you believe in God. You also live most your life and as if God didn’t exist, and that is as it must be. No one wants a mechanic who claims a car’s troubles are due to gremlins or invisible dragon fire. Worship your God if you must, but keep your beliefs out of public policy, just as you keep them out of car repair.

To the Democrats:

You can keep me. I believe in Democratic ideals. I believe that a strong, growing, progressing economy in the modern world benefits from a government/business partnership. I also believe that consumers need more money in their pockets, and producers should vie for that money rather than having it handed to them in tax cuts. I may be wrong about that, and maybe the Republicans can prove it to me. For now, I’m with you. But to keep me, you’ll need to change, too.

Stop supporting teachers’ unions at all costs. Bad teachers need to go. And there are lots of bad teachers out there. A profession that gets so little respect is bound to attract them. Teachers need to get more respect, and they need to prove they deserve it.

Stop supporting crazy environmental ideas that discourage, growth. Yes, climate change is real and is caused by people. The question is not how to prevent climate change. The question is how to survive and thrive on a changing planet. If we give up our economic engine to return to a simpler time, the next great calamity (maybe a super volcano, an impact from space, or even something as mundane as a famine) will be all the more disastrous because we will have stymied our ability to react.

Stop opposing nuclear energy. Fossil fuels are here for a very long time, but nuclear is a viable alternative if you would only let the technology evolve. Nuclear fission, and someday perhaps even nuclear fusion, can be the energy that powers our advance on this planet and beyond. Stop attacking it for political gain.

Stop opposing any sort of tort reform. Protecting consumers is laudable, but it has gone too far. Doctors are treated alternately as gods and criminals by our legal system. This is just silly. Doctors are humans trying to do their best, just like the rest of us. Similarly, an army of lawyers follow around entrepreneurs, hoping for something to go wrong. This stifles growth and prosperity

Avoid moral relativism. There are things that are right and things that are wrong, and we should have the courage to say what they are. There are enemies to our way of life; don’t be afraid to call them our enemies. Some of those enemies are religious fanatics, but not all fanatics are religious.

Genetically modified foods are a boon to civilization. Support them, don’t block them. Oil shales, clean coal, and proven oil reserves are all paths to prosperity. Insist on high standards for using these resources, but don’t limit our growth by making them off limits. Pesticides, medical testing, and cell phones have all been attacked by the ignorant. Don’t be swayed by these uninformed fearmongers.

We must not retreat from progress. Energy efficiency is fine, but only because it lets us use more energy. Energy is what we need to learn more, to explore more, to create more, to be more than we are. The past was never as good as the present, and the present is nothing compared to the future we can choose to build. We don’t consume too much. We produce too little – and we always will. We must never stop striving to be more than we are.

 

Here’s the crazy thing about my two lists. Both parties could do as I suggest and meet in the middle, with the Republicans perhaps ending up more fiscally conservative, the Democrats more fiscally liberal. At that point we could make a real choice between two parties who each agree that the goal is prosperity. The only question is how to get there.

 

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