The Republican Party’s search for a presidential candidate is increasingly looking like a homeless man rooting through a dumpster. He picks up something that looks delectable, sniffs it, maybe takes a bite, but then rejects it in disgust and keeps on looking.
First, it was Donald Trump that was examined, thought to be the right choice, but after he opened his mouth a few times, it quickly became clear he was unpalatable. Then it was Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry and Herman Cain who went through the same process in rapid succession only to be found wanting.
Ron Paul won’t even get that much consideration as his supporters are unsure whether they are in the 18th or the 19th century. Neither will Newt Gingrich as he arouses excitement only among sales clerks at Tiffany’s. And the problem with Willard Romney is no one gets excited about him.
At this rate, the seemingly inexhaustible supply of pretenders to the Republican nomination will soon be exhausted.
But the real problem may be not that none of them pass the sniff test, but that none of them is a true conservative. To fix that perception, here are two suggestions, which any of them could adopt, for a platform that will ignite the base of the party, secure the nomination and sweep that person into the White House.
Cain has his 9-9-9 plan to tax everything at nine percent and Perry tried to match him by coming out with his own flat tax. Both schemes are too complicated, however, and what is needed is a truly straightforward idea that all can understand.
The current income tax is called progressive because the tax rate rises as the taxpayer’s income increases. Progressive is what liberals call themselves now that the evil of their ideology has been exposed. So clearly the current system is nothing more than a liberal plot.
A flat rate plan, be it nine percent or another number, would apply that same rate to everyone from Bill Gates to that guy rooting through the dumpster. But it requires stuff like multiplication and decimal points and therefore fails the simplicity test.
To win the nomination, the first initiative one of the candidates needs to come out with is a plan to replace the income tax with a head tax. The cost of government each year would be divided by the population and that is the amount each citizen would be required to pay. It is just unfair to ask the rich to pay more than the poor when all benefit (or suffer from) the government equally.
People with the most money would pay much less than they do now, but that would allow them to create more jobs like valet parking attendants and bellhops at thousand-dollar-a-night hotels. The head tax would be accompanied by a constitutional amendment that requires the government to annually reduce its budget by ten percent, which would mean everyone would get a tax cut and the economy would boom every year as a result.
The second initiative has to do with upping the ante on immigration in the same way the head tax would over the flat tax. Instead of just stopping illegal immigration, the objective should be to encourage the emigration of all undesirables. The principle would be simple - anyone who does not look like the Founding Fathers (assuming for the moment that they were all straight) would go back to their country of origin.
In fact, to return this country to the one that the Fathers founded, Alaska should be sold to the Russians (they can see it from their porch so they should have it), the southwest given back to the Mexicans (except Texas which can be an independent country with Rick Perry as its ruler), and the Louisiana Purchase returned to the French (even if the original receipt is unavailable.)
Getting back to the original 13 colonies as envisioned in the constitution will make this country great again. And with the reduced population thanks to emigration, if someone finds it irritating that he can see the smoke rising in the distance from his neighbor’s chimney, he can just move over the next mountain range.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Dennis Jett, a former U.S. ambassador to Mozambique and Peru, is a professor of international affairs at Penn State's School of International Affairs.
McClatchy Newspapers did not subsidize the writing of this column; the opinions are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of McClatchy Newspapers or its editors.