Most Republicans who take a realistic look back on last year’s midterm elections may, in fact, agree with one point of Ryan Guptil’s (“President Sends Wrong Message in Address,” THE HOYA, Jan. 26, 2007): The results in 2006 reflect the missteps Republicans made over the preceding months. We should realize, however, that we erred not because our conservative values were wrong, but because we wandered from the path of small, responsible government.

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush said it best this past weekend; “[I]t isn’t because conservatives were rejected. But it’s because [Republicans] rejected the conservative philosophy in this country.”

Yet conservatism remains the best, most hopeful philosophy in America today, and the policies put forth by the president in his State of the Union address propose substantive change grounded in a renewed spirit of conservatism.

President Bush proposed measures that aim to take the task of decision-making away from the government and insurance companies and give it to the people best able to make crucial medical decisions – patients and their doctors.

Under President Bush’s new health care proposal, families with health insurance will be exempt from paying payroll taxes on the first $15,000 of their income, according to the White House’s Web site. With this reform, over 100 million Americans covered by employer-provided health care will be able to keep more of their hard-earned money.

On energy policy, it seems Democrats have a somewhat naive and distorted outlook. Guptil assails Bush for his “continued emphasis on domestic oil production.” But increased production of domestic oil would not only lower gas prices and create more jobs – it would reduce our dependence on oil imported from the volatile Middle East.

President Bush laid out plans in his address to reduce American oil consumption by 20 percent within the next 10 years through his Advanced Energy Initiative. This initiative will boost funding for alternative fuel sources by 53 percent from its 2006 level. The president’s approach is a smart, efficient and realistic energy policy.

The war in Iraq has not been the easy, pain-free victory that many Americans wished it would be. The administration made mistakes in the handling of the Iraq war, but that is not a reason to cut and run now. This war is far from lost. Setting an arbitrary deadline for withdrawal from Iraq is not a solution, it is a dangerous and cowardly retreat.

Bush’s proposed surge in the number of U.S. troops currently in Iraq is necessary to secure Baghdad and its suburbs and to allow the Iraqi government to govern effectively. We should not leave Iraq on some arbitrary date set by politicians pandering to the far left, but when we are confident that doing so will leave behind a stable and safe country that can effectively defend itself against an insurgency and hostile neighbors.

If we abandon the country now, it would mean that every soldier who fought and died in the Iraq War gave their sacrifice for a lost cause. We owe it to our soldiers, their families and the people of Iraq to finish our task and leave Iraq a free, sovereign and democratic nation capable of being a productive and responsible member of the world community.

And still there is one more topic from President Bush’s speech that no one in the mainstream media seems to want to talk about these days: the strong economy. According to the White House Web site, the current unemployment rate is 4.5 percent, down from 5.1 percent in the past year. Since December, 167,000 new jobs have been created, and since August 2003, 2.3 million jobs have been added. The United States has grown faster than any other G-8 nation over the past four quarters.

According to a recent Wall Street Journal article entitled “Class of ’07 Gets Plenty of Job Offers,” employers plan to hire 17 percent more graduates this year than they did last year, topping the college hiring peak back in 2000. Now there’s something all of you seniors can appreciate.

We need to embark back along the path of true conservatism, a path that rejects excessive government intrusion, that has the conviction to defend the values it holds dear, and that respects the intelligence and freedom of the American people to make their own decisions about their money, health and welfare.

In this case, as in every one, Ronald Reagan said it best: “The ultimate determinate in the struggle now going on for the world will not be bombs and rockets but a test of wills and ideas – a trial of spiritual resolve, the values we hold, the beliefs we cherish and the ideas to which we are dedicated.”

Elizabeth Niles is a sophomore in the College and member of the Georgetown University College Republicans.

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