The Promise of the Republican Party
Around the State
Last month in New Jersey, a state where Republicans are only 20 percent of registered voters, Gov. Chris Christie was re-elected with more than 60 percent of the vote. This news came after months of analysis by media pundits and national political observers that the Republican Party is losing its ability to connect with the majority of voters.
More than three decades ago, in 1980, Ronald Reagan was elected president of the United States. In that election, and again in his 1984 re-election, more than one-fifth of the nation's voting Democrats cast a ballot for Reagan. In the same 1984 re-election effort, Reagan received 58 percent of the votes from women who cast a ballot.
Unfortunately, as Republicans we have not done all that we can to remind all Americans who we are as a political party.
I remember being 15 years old and wishing I could vote for Reagan, and four years later I did have the chance to vote for him. That support for Reagan and the connection I felt to his ideas were because I had a sense that a better life in a better America was in front of me. I was no economist, yet I knew in my core that policymakers who believed in my ability to chart my own course were on to something. Decades of historic economic growth and individual prosperity followed.
As I have moved from the sidelines and decided to seek a chance to serve in the Legislature, I did so to solve problems. I know I do not have the answer to every question, and I certainly don't believe Democrats can't have good ideas. In fact, I seek to work with people who have a wide range of thoughts and ideas about the future of Florida and the nation. Their political party will never be a reason for me to ignore a good idea.
For me, being Republican means that I will give the individual the benefit of the doubt before relying on government. The Obamacare rollout is simply the latest example proving the government's inability to manage the marketplace. The primary role of government should be to guarantee every American the opportunity to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. After that, while there is the obvious role of consumer protection, government should encourage a free and competitive marketplace so that people have access to goods and property.
The idea that society should respect the power of family and faith is another core value of Republicans. When we create public policy, I want to ensure that we do not interfere with exercise of faith, nor should we impose a secular or specific faith on those who disagree. And the bedrock principle of Republicans is the value placed on the American family. Our local, state and federal governments must never do anything that weakens or undermines this core building block of our society.
I am a Republican because I believe in the power and potential of individual Americans to choose their own path, chart their own course, and live their lives as freely as possible. When we create a culture of dependence on government to provide for us, we not only lose a small amount of freedom, we also lose part of our individuality.
Indeed, government has an important, even necessary, role to play. The rights given us by our Creator require diligent citizens to serve as defenders. But if America is to remain on the world stage as the greatest and most prosperous nation on earth, it can only do so by empowering each and every one of us to fulfill the potential we possess. I invite you to join me in striving to continually improve our nation and ourselves.
Florida Sen. Wilton Simpson is a Republican who lives in Trilby with his wife Kathryn and their son. His daughter is a newlywed who works as a teacher for Pasco County Schools. He is a farmer and a businessman, and he was elected to the Florida Senate in November 2012. He serves as chairman of the Senate Community Affairs Committee as well as the Pasco, Hernando and Sumter County legislative delegations.