It's time for Republican members of Congress to get summer jobs.
While everyone may think August is the right time to kick back, GOP lawmakers go home this summer with such a lamentable record of nonachievement that they need to use the next few weeks for hard work to ensure they do better when they return to Capitol Hill in September. They need to do the hard work they've neglected for years by making the case to voters for conservative reform.
For the past seven years, Republicans in Congress have done little except be against Democrats and against Democratic governance, such as Obamacare. That manifestly terrible restructuring of the healthcare system is well worth demolishing, but doing so is insufficient.
Republicans need to recall how to be for conservative reforms. Some Republicans, President Trump included, say they are for higher wages, for more jobs, and for better government, but they haven't taken the trouble or time to persuade voters that conservative reforms achieve those desirable outcomes.
It's easy to vote for a candidate who opposes the thing you hate, harder to vote for them when their counter-proposal isn't perfect. Taking the easy route, being opposed to what is rightly detested, but for nothing in particular has put Republicans in a world of trouble now that they must govern. They seem incapable of passing legislation even if their lives depended on it. Come to think of it, their lives do depend on it, in a political sense.
That's why August recess could be a blessing. Republicans need to use the next three weeks to go out and move voters toward some identifiable legislative goals. There's a good reason that recesses are technically called "District Work Periods" rather than vacations. Lawmakers go back to their states and districts, and need to roll up their sleeves, slumping on the sand in the manner of a beached Chris Christie is not an impressive alternative. Get out there, Republicans, and change voters' minds!
Not every member must follow the example of Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., who's held 83 town hall meetings this year. But to make the case effectively for conservative reforms, GOP lawmakers do need to start by listening to their constituents and, once they've listened, to talk back and persuade. Rep. Will Hurd, R-Texas has 20 town hall meetings planned for the next seven days. That's a good start.
Skeptical constituents will respond to conservative ideas more readily if they feel they're being listened to, their concerns are being addressed, and their arguments either accepted or shown to be ill-advised. Liberals and centrists, like anyone else, accept the arguments of people they like, and people generally like those who listen to them.
There are tough arguments to make, but they must be made. GOP lawmakers need to arm themselves with arguments — there are plenty of them — that make it plain that healthcare really would work better if subjected to market disciplines rather than shielded from them in a fragile bubble constructed by Washington ideologues. Republicans need to learn how to make the case that health insurance needs actually to be insurance, not socialist redistribution of wealth.
Similarly, with tax reform, Republicans need to learn how to make a compelling case that what actually works is better than the airy and unworkable promises offered by those on the Left. Voters don't want to give up their tax deductions. But if lawmakers listen to these concerns and answer them cogently, the great good sense of the public can be swing behind good policy.
Town hall meetings will have plenty of angry, far-left Democrats trying simply shout down and drown out reasonable discussion. Their arguments, too, should be listened to, and then they should be demolished.