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GOP Lawmaker: Our Party Must Take Back the "Narrative of Hope and Inclusion"

This op ed by Congressman Collins  (R- Ga.) appeared in the Washington Post on November 30, 2016. 

In the months leading to Nov. 8, Americans were searching for a path out of the economic malaise dubbed the Great Recession. More importantly, and perhaps more subtly, they were searching for a compelling, unified picture of what our country stands for and where it’s headed.

Voters from board rooms to factory floors believed that Republican leadership could provide what Democrats have chronically failed to deliver. As the blue wall crumbled, it reminded everyone that support for conservative principles is deep and wide.

Sixty-two million voters checked the Republican presidential ticket — giving us our first unified government since 2010. Yet we are a nation of 321 million. So where does America go from here?

Some fear we are quickly falling backward—into inequality, xenophobia, and classism. Others don’t know where we’re headed, but hope that the journey before us offers relief from the weariness of the road we’ve been walking.

Eight years ago, Americans invested in a narrative of hope and change that never paid dividends. Health insurance premiums in about half of our states are projected to increase by at least 20 percent next year. We now owe other nations more than $19 trillion dollars. People continue to search for good jobs to make ends meet. As our friends and families are beating the pavement, the president gave $1.7 billion taxpayer dollars to Iran — the world’s premier state-sponsor of terrorism.

On the surface, the numbers paint a bleak picture of government efficacy, and I understand why many among us are disillusioned.

As an incoming member of Republican leadership, I know that my colleagues in the House of Representatives, in the Senate, and at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue have been charged with demonstrating that we offer a better way forward and that ours is the party of compassion, fairness, and freedom.

Republicans erred when we allowed our friends across the aisle to hijack the narrative of hope and inclusion. Not only must Congress and the incoming administration put constructive policies in place, but, together, we must tell the story of how a limited government actually reduces limitations on the economic and creative success of every American.

As the son of a state trooper from the hills of northeast Georgia, I understand that real hope is synonymous with opportunity and that the government’s role is to make room for more and better opportunities for our businesses, our schools, and our communities. All of them.

The chance for our party to lead our nation comes with the responsibility of proving that the hope we offer them is rooted in reality. Substantive opportunity is found in personal agency that isn’t stymied by an intrusive government.

Our party offers every individual the opportunity to run successful businesses according to what they know works, to choose healthcare that meets their needs without draining their bank accounts, to generate ideas and products in an environment that champions creativity, and to speak according to their conscience.

My Republican colleagues and I will be measured by the work we do on behalf of all 321 million Americans. In the wake of elections and ongoing protests, our first step in serving them is to affirm that universal human dignity undergirds the conservative platform. Freedom remains our rallying cry because we believe that the Bill of Rights is the appropriate, reverent response to the inherent value and autonomy of each individual.

As we step into a new season in American history, the journey ahead belongs to everyone — individually and together.

Conservatism fights to ensure all people have the opportunity to pursue their dreams on their terms, and it unites us in championing the freedoms that magnify human dignity.

Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) is vice chair of the House Republican Conference.

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