Tim Pawlenty speaks on The Future of the Republican Party

Photo Cred Gage Skidmore

Photo Cred Gage Skidmore

Max Fagan, Contributor

Former Governor of Minnesota Tim Pawlenty spoke about the future of the Republican Party on Tuesday, March 9, in a Center for the Study of Politics and Governance online event at the University of Minnesota.

Elected in 2002 and re-elected in 2006, he served as a national campaign co-chair for John McCain and Mitt Romney’s presidential campaigns. He himself was also a candidate for the presidential nomination in 2012.

He is the only Republican to win the governorship in Minnesota in the past two decades. During this zoom event, Pawlenty spoke about multiple topics regarding the future outlook of America and where he sees things going. He was inclined toward the concept of everyone getting onto the same team to move forward during blue times in Washington.

Pawlenty said, “If the Republican Party wants to be a national governing majority party, it’s going to need to change. Nothing stays the same, and change is particularly hard for conservatives, it’s not our nature.”

He went on to say, “It doesn’t mean our principles change, but how we apply those principles and those philosophies to modern challenges and modern opportunities.”

Pawlenty explained that, even though Republicans dislike change, and there is a modern movement from the older Reagan Republicans from the old days, and though the basic values remain intact, some younger generations are starting to apply them a bit differently.

“You have a Reagan conservative segment of the Republican Party, you have a Trump populism segment, and neither can win without the other,” Pawlenty explained.

When comparing the two parties on how they like to go about dealing with social issues, Pawlenty said, “To over-simplify, Democrats tend to put their thumb on the scale of equality and not just equal opportunity but increasingly equal outcome using government as the force to do that, while Republicans put their thumb on the scale towards liberty and not wanting government overreach to squash or suffocate liberty.”

Pawlenty thinks one of the moves that Republicans should start to lean more toward is the concept of getting greener as an Earth. He says that most Republicans can admit that green energy is the future, and we aren’t going back. Technology can compete directly with fossil fuels and help us in the future without hindering the views of the Republican Party. He said one good example of a great new technology is clean hydrogen, which has “a potential to offer baseload capacity in ways that could be very beneficial.

Pawlenty said, “The Republican Party has applauded domestic energy independence, and it’s a transition to a different future.”

For people who drifted away from the Republican Party or people who are on the edge, it may be very good for them to hear about the future thoughts and motives of the Right, as modern-day ideals may be exactly what they’re wanting to hear, Pawlenty explained.

When asked about the future of capitalism, Pawlenty said some people believe there is a wave of believers in socialism that has been on the upswing for a while now. This mostly has to do with the fact that some believers in capitalism are not seeing any benefits and are being “left behind,” he said.

Pawlenty said that in order to get people to believe more in capitalism, we must engineer a way to help more people near the bottom see more success through the system.

“For too many people, that’s not happening, and what do we do about that?” He said, “To be able to access [benefits] in a meaningful way in the private economy is to get an education or skill that allows them to get a job that pays well in the private sector.”

Pawlenty said there is still a large number of people who lack the necessary skills to access the private sector. He thinks the Republican Party must look into education reform as well as some inner-city communities in order to increase general human capital throughout the country, since doing more of the same will not work. 

Overall, Tim Pawlenty’s thoughts on where the Republican Party should or must go in order to find more seats in Washington include trying to get Republicans on the same page as well as trying to lean a bit left on some of the economic issues, which shouldn’t hinder the social views. Most of these changes he thinks we need to look at leaning on include climate change, equality, and modern-day capitalism.