Riley Parr: Republicans need to do more than be anti-Biden

Riley ParrBeing in the minority party at the national level has its perks. After all, it is easy to point at your political opponents and critique their policies and approaches. It also can serve as a galvanizing force, a sort of joint rallying cry for those whose politics are similar, though not necessarily perfectly aligned.

This phenomenon helps explain why, at least traditionally, the midterm election following a presidential election does not usually end well for the president’s party. That should provide some solace for conservatives concerned about the direction of the country under the Biden administration—an administration that campaigned on unity, and has governed in any way but.

Those right of center can exponentially help their case by refining their pitch to the American public. It cannot merely be an anti-Joe Biden message; Republicans must go on the offensive and affirmatively advocate for policies that promote individual liberty, personal responsibility and opportunity for all, regardless of station in life. Regardless of what else can be said about former President Trump, he isn’t afraid to unabashedly push for his vision of America.

If nothing else comes from the Trump era, perhaps that energy will translate into other Republicans taking similar approaches. In some ways, at least in regard to recent actions by Democrats to the rise in COVID-19 cases, some Republicans are offering alternative responses. In federalist fashion, Republican governors—like Florida’s Ron DeSantis—are leading the charge.

In the rush to address the problems occurring at the federal level, Republicans should also take care not to forsake the gains, and opportunities, at the state level. The two most prominent liberal governors, Gavin Newsom of California (recall election) and Andrew Cuomo of New York (sexual assault allegations), face direct challenges to their status as executives of their states.

The former provides Republicans a close to once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make their case to voters who might not ordinarily consider a Republican candidate, and the latter highlights the ever-increasing problem for the left of standards that apply “to thee but not to me.”

Closer to home, Hoosier Republicans must remain vigilant to continue seeking innovative solutions to the problems that arise for those within Indiana’s borders. Indiana’s story over the last 17 years portrays a state that has dramatically improved in nearly every measurable category. And our leaders continue to share that success story throughout the world.

But if the last 18 months have taught us anything, it is that new challenges continually arise, and our leaders must be well-equipped to rise to the occasion. Such leadership requires a strong vision, bold policies and firm execution.

If the quality of state officials is important, the competency of local officials is vital. On this front, Indianapolis, like many major cities, is sorely lacking. Indeed, many of the same local leaders in other cities that overreacted last summer by carte blanche endorsing the “defund the police” movement have now reversed course. Locally, it seems as though, every morning, the lead news story is of a new overnight murder or shooting.

All of that is to say that, while our national leaders are content to focus on holding hearings regarding the Jan. 6 Capitol riots (if Jan. 6 was an insurrection, it was the most poorly executed, least-equipped insurrection in recorded history), Republicans across the United States at all levels of government can and should take this opportunity to develop a comprehensive strategy for addressing the actual problems facing Americans. They deserve nothing less.•


Parr is a practicing attorney in central Indiana. Send comments to

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