By David McCormick
March 14, 2023
On May 17, 2022, a record turnout of roughly 1.35 million Pennsylvanians cast their votes in the Republican Senate primary – one of the most watched elections in the country. It was a beautiful day in Pittsburgh. With hardly a cloud in the sky, my wife Dina and I went to our local polling place confident we would win.
That evening we held a small election-night party in East Liberty, a neighborhood on the northeast side of the city. Polls closed at 8 p.m., and I took an early lead over Mehmet Oz. Around 10 p.m., my campaign team came into the conference room, where I was talking with Dina and a few close friends and advisers. “We are likely to win this,” they told me. “It’s time to prepare the victory speech.”
About an hour later, they came back. “You’re going to fall behind in half an hour,” they said. More votes were coming in from the Philadelphia area and surrounding counties, Oz’s purported stronghold. He would soon take the lead, but based on remaining absentee ballots, we believed we would ultimately prevail.
Dina and I went out to greet and thank the supporters gathered there that night. With tens of thousands of absentee and military ballots left to count, we wouldn’t have resolution that night. So I told them what I believed. “When all the votes are counted, we’re gonna win this campaign.”
Seventeen days later, in that same room in northeast Pittsburgh, with the difference of just hundreds of votes between us, I conceded. While there are a few aspects of being a candidate that I’d like to forget, the experience was for the most part exhilarating and humbling because of the incredible people I met along the way.
At every campaign stop at diners, VFWs, and fire halls, people were worried. They lived with the fear that their children would inherit a worse country than they had. The America they knew was slipping away. They were scared and angry. And they wanted to know what I was going to do about it if elected.
Who can blame them? For too long, politicians in Washington, both on the left and the right, ignored men and women like those I met every day on the campaign trail. That changed when President Trump recognized the wave of legitimate anger and disillusionment that cut across traditional party lines and rode it to victory in 2016. His victory woke the Republican Party from its sleepwalking slumber, but over six years later, our party has still failed to answer the most important question: what do we do next?
The national renewal agenda that follows is my answer to that question. It does not solve all the problems before us, but then again, no grand plan could. What it offers is a set of policies that are anchored to core conservative principles but also recognize how Washington has failed to preserve liberty and opportunity for all Americans and to protect American values. These policies are also fit for the unique moment in history in which we find ourselves, and give us a path to victory in three vital contests of our time: the races for talent, technology, and data supremacy.
The first part of the agenda is a talent strategy that revives and unlocks the courageous, entrepreneurial American spirit. We must reimagine how we educate people, through school choice; dramatically expand opportunities for workforce development; reform immigration to protect our sovereignty and serve the needs of Americans; and foster a sense of civic duty in each new generation.
Second is a strategy for technological leadership. Washington must take a more active role in promoting American innovation, using government policy to drive private sector capital towards technologies and sectors critical to America’s future. At the same time, Washington must cut the red tape and get out of the way of private citizens and firms trying to innovate.
The third and final piece is a strategy for winning the race for data leadership and getting Big Tech under control. It would protect Americans’ privacy and the public square, and it would put our country in a position to lead in the most dynamic and important industries of the future. We’re in a contest with China for dominance in the digital age, and this strategy lays out a path to victory.
If we began a campaign of national renewal, all citizens would receive a better start in life and a fairer shot at the American dream. We would win the race for technological development, triggering greater innovation and productivity growth and creating more well‐paying jobs. People would have the training and support they needed to flourish in those roles. We would all be freer to live, work, and dream, knowing our privacy was protected in our online world. We would usher in a new era of American leadership, and our nation would be more secure against the predations of the Chinese Communist Party. Our government would finally wake from its doldrums and start meeting the moment. Businesses, schools, and all other institutions would refocus on their core missions. Our nation would break out of the cycle of stagnation that mires us now. America would get moving again.
However, the national renewal agenda will not be possible without leadership to ensure the United States stands up for itself in the world, confronts and decouples from China, builds new coalitions of willing partners, and reasserts leadership in this new era of geopolitical confrontation. And it will not be possible without leadership across the core institutions of American life to revive the American spirit – the restlessness that comes with liberty and the ambition born of access to the American dream.
It is now time for us, as a country, to begin the hard work of renewal. It is time to heal the partisan wounds that have for too long divided our country. It is time for leaders to step up and for the men and women charged with the public trust to leave past grievances behind and lead America forward. Our superpower is in peril, but this is the battle plan that will bring us back from the brink.