Other Voices

Republican road map for 2020: Be inclusive, solve everyday problems

Tarrant County GOP rejects proposal to remove Muslim as vice chairman

The Tarrant County Republican Party voted on Thursday to keep Dr. Shahid Shafi in his post as vice chairman. More than six months ago then Precinct Chair Dorrie O’Brien asked for Shafi’s appointment to be reconsidered because he’s Muslim.
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The Tarrant County Republican Party voted on Thursday to keep Dr. Shahid Shafi in his post as vice chairman. More than six months ago then Precinct Chair Dorrie O’Brien asked for Shafi’s appointment to be reconsidered because he’s Muslim.

Conventional wisdom is, the road to the White House for President Trump in 2020 goes through Texas.

The losses sustained by the GOP in the 2018 midterm elections in Texas suggest a bumpy ride. The stark reality is that the GOP in Texas has not kept up with the 11% growth in the population of the state over the last decade.

To grow, we need to add conservative Americans of all types to our party.

Unfortunately, over the last several years, factions in the party have used various litmus tests of purity to identify “true” conservatives, and exclude the rest from the party. With nearly 400 items in the platform of the Republican Party of Texas, this is a failing strategy. We need to look for common ground for inclusion, not litmus tests for exclusion.

We have created artificial divisions in our society where every group feels threatened and under attack by others. Men vs. women, rural vs. urban, whites vs. non-whites, college educated vs. high school graduates, white collar vs. blue collar workers, Christians vs. Jews and Muslims, immigrants vs. native born, straight vs. gay, black vs. blue lives.

But I remain optimistic because we have overcome worse divisions in our country, from the Civil War to the struggle for Civil Rights, and emerged a stronger union.

Americans of all races, ethnicities, religions, colors, countries of origin, gender, and sexual orientation have contributed to make America the greatest nation in the history of mankind. For the future of our nation and for the future of our party, we must overcome these divisions.

The Republican message to all Americans must be absolutely clear: We recognize no boundaries of race, ethnicity, religion, cast, creed, color, gender, sexual orientation or country of origin. We invite all Americans who believe in the principles of individual responsibility, free enterprise, market-driven solutions, lower taxes, legal immigration, secure borders and strong national defense to join us.

It is through inclusion, and not exclusion, that we can build strong communities, where neighbors trust and protect each other, and our enemies cannot find refuge. We need to build trust by breaking bread with our neighbors who don’t look like us or who speak with an accent or belong to a different religion.

Another fallacy in the GOP strategy has been to try to convert people to our value system, instead of solving problems faced by real people every day.

Many people are working two or three jobs to support their families, but cannot make ends meet. Our rural communities have been decimated by the lack of jobs and an epidemic of opioid and meth. The American dream of home ownership is now beyond the reach of many urban families. Employers cannot grow their businesses because of rising costs of health insurance for their employees.

Workers with health insurance cannot access healthcare because of high-deductible plans and soaring costs of prescription drugs. College graduates are burdened by an average of $30,000 in high-interest loans. The quality of education in our K-12 schools remains abysmal, especially in our poor areas. Untreated mental health issues have created a revolving door of crime, poverty, broken families and homelessness. Home owners, especially retirees, are perpetually indebted to the government due to high property taxes. Half of the retirees have no savings and survive on meager Social Security checks.

These are some of the real problems in our communities.

If we want to grow the GOP in 2020 and beyond, we need to find conservative, market-driven solutions to these problems, especially those that effect daily lives of ordinary Americans — employment, healthcare, education, taxes, housing and retirement. It is simply not enough to disagree with the other side.

To make these changes to our GOP strategy, we need leaders with the moral courage to make difficult choices. We need new leaders to emerge from our rank and file who can rise above petty divisions. We need leaders who will unite us, and not divide us. We need leaders who will spread hope, and not fear. We need leaders who will agree to disagree with others, within and outside the party, without demonizing or dehumanizing them.

We need leaders who will be firm in our values but will be willing to negotiate to move our country in the right direction, even if it’s only one yard at a time. We need leaders who will protect our weak, our poor, our elderly and our veterans.

Thomas Paine once said “it is within our power to begin the world over again.” So, let’s create our own rendezvous with destiny in 2020, with a message of inclusiveness for all Americans, and by offering conservative solutions to everyday problems that will inspire people to join us.

Dr. Shahid Shafi is a surgeon, two-term councilman in the city of Southlake, president of Southlake Republican Club, and Vice Chair of the Tarrant County Republican Party.