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Last week, I attended a users’ conference for a software provider. One concept that came up repeatedly was the importance of “easy wins”; i.e., small changes that noticeably move the ball in the right direction without too much effort (switching analogies, you might call them low-hanging fruit). They don’t constitute a full strategy or policy, but they make life marginally better by removing some pain points, while — equally importantly — building trust that useful things can and are being done.
This concept has a lot of political salience. Should the Republicans win the presidency in 2016 while holding Congress, we’re going to have a lot of big projects to set about (repealing Obamacare and reforming middle-class entitlements). While it’s vitally important to our country’s welfare to tackle these sort of issues, these are going to be high-casualty fights whose outcome is uncertain and for which we’ll likely have very little to show for years (I’m being optimistic). Before we tackle those issues, it would be wise to give ourselves some relatively easy tasks as an opportunity to build confidence and — who knows? — celebrate some small victories. Columbus might never have gotten his men to the West Indies if he hadn’t first shown them that he could lead them to the Canary Islands.
All this begs the question: what are some small, achievable policy victories the GOP could have under its belt by, say, the end of 2017? Ideally, these should be simple to implement, non-controversial, and politically feasible. Likely, they’ll be more a matter of stopping the government from doing something bad, rather than reforming something big or complicated. Wedge issues such as a partial-birth abortion ban — which, for the record, I would heartily endorse — aren’t the ideal answer here, as it would quickly turn into a political bloodbath, albeit one Democrats would lose badly. The objective is to get some small-but-subtantive things passed quickly and with minimal controversy in order to create momentum and show that Republicans are serious about governing.
I have two suggestions — both based on suggestions from Ricochet members — but I’m certain there are others out there:
- Amend the Controlled Substance Act to recognize state-specific drug legalizations (i.e., have the Feds recognize marijuana legalizations in Washington and Colorado).
- Revise federal asset forfeiture standards along the lines many other states — most recently, New Mexico — have to remove some terrible incentives for law-enforcement.
What say you, Ricochet?