Aside from the race for leadership of the party, activists are caught up in a struggle over who is next, who is going to be our candidate for President and who we must rely upon to deliver our message and carry us forward? There are those who are demanding that we pin our hopes on Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, while others debate the future of Sarah Palin or other party figures like Romney and Huckabee.
I have an appreciation for all of the above mentioned named people but I have an even greater appreciation for what my party stands for regardless of the name of who we discuss and there in lies what the real debate should be about.
We, as a party, need to be less concerned with the face of the party and more concerned with the heart of the party. We need to reestablish that which was the source of our political preeminence beginning with the ‘94 Republican revolution and the ending of its dominance which culminated in the 2006 elections when we lost control of the senate and house.
The 1994 Republican revolution ushered in 73 new Republican House members and 11 new Republican Senators. The largess of that freshmen class of Republicans influenced the leadership of congress with the “power to the people” sentiments that they brought to government. It was a sentiment that believed, as elected officials, they needed to make sacrifices for the people and live by the same rules that they created for the people.
This meant getting rid of special privileges and reversing the practices that allowed members of congress to abuse power. It also meant a strong adherence to conservative fiscal, foreign and law and order policies. Many in this class quickly became a part of a new informal group dubbed “New Federalists” and set an agenda of widespread U.S. government cuts in many departments and also intended on privatizing, localizing, consolidating and even , eliminating many departments and agencies. This federalist direction was part of their success.
At least up until 2002.
In my estimation our fall from power as a party came about not due to what we stand for but due to a lack of attention to coordinated efforts in clearly defining what we stand for and a backing away from those intentions.
After winning the White House in 2000, with total control of all three branches of federal government, many of our elected officials became complacent. With that White House win also came the loss of the “power to the people” spirit that ushered in our majorities in 1994.
After winning the presidency, many of those who were a part of that ’94 federalist style, freshmen class slowly left office. Many of them believed in term limits and felt, that in truth to their beliefs, they must step aside and move on. So by 2002, gone were many of the freshmen of the ‘94 GOP revolution. Gone were the strong federalist tendencies of John Kasich , J.C. Watts, Joe Scarborough and their like. And with them, the “power to the power” legislation and message slowly departed as well.
Slowly, congressional Republicans became complacent with their power. Slowly they lost touch with the people and lost their message. In 2004, the effects of this loss of spirit were not dramatically pronounced. Republicans maintained what power they had, including the White House, but the erosion was beginning. By 2006 it had set in. Our federalist influences were gone and so was our power.
And that is what we must get back in order to regain power. The “power to the people” message and federalist intentions which defined the ‘94 freshman Republican class was what helped to bring us to power.
In 1994 we did not win simply because we were not Democrats. We won because of the anti-establishmentarian mentality that we represented. We were also able to point fingers of blame at Democrats who controlled the establishment. We were able to point to the pay raises and special privileges that Democrats afforded the governing class while offering only a lack of attention to the needs of the people that democrat policies seemingly overlooked.
But by 2006 it became clear to the people that we were the establishment and that we were not responsive to their needs. By 2008 an exclamation mark was added to that sentiment.
So here we are today, wondering how to gain back our majority status.
Many are trying to achieve that goal by appointing one name or another as the name that will propel us back into power. Yet, the truth is that no one name will restore faith in our party.
We can fondly mention the Reagan name and we can offer up Mitt Romney as a the new bearer of the Reagan torch or Sarah Palin as the Republican savior and Bobby Jindal as the leader of the next revolution but no matter what name may be put forth, it is the what our party stands for that is more important than who represents it.
So I propose that we stop linking our fortunes to any one figure and start clearly defining our party. Not redefining it, but clarifying it’s definition.
Doing that requires those Republicans who still remain in office to get back on message and adopt a stronger adherence to federalist tendencies in their legislative initiatives and voting records.
Beyond generalities, that means controlling spending and maintaining an aggressive posture with those foreign elements whom threaten our security and would weaken the threads of freedoms delicate fabric. It means reducing the size of a costly and inefficient government and the bureaucracy that makes government inefficient.
Under the auspices of Homeland Security, Republicans, during the Bush administration, have tried to excuse away budget deficits. Although Homeland Security did account for one of the largest reorganizations of federal government in our history, it did not create an excuse for avoiding budget cuts in other areas or streamlining departments and cutting waste.
In light of this, we must create a legislative agenda that reflects our political ideology. For too long the G.O.P. has been overshadowed by the War on Terror. That effort must not be diminished nor should any focus be taken away from it. However; our efforts must simultaneously embark upon the same domestic agenda that brought us to power in the mid ‘90’s and that we lost track of during the security agenda of this current decade.
So put aside the name of your favorite potential Republican nominee four years from now. Focus on the clarity of our message and how best to shape that message. Let the great work of Bobby Jindal and Sarah Palin, as a governors, speak for themselves and see what it shall bring. Let people like former congressman John Kasich reemerge on the frontlines of the political battlefield as he throws his hat in the ring for Governor of Ohio. Let the candidacies of the best and brightest develop as we help to recapture the spirit and agenda which brought us to power but strayed away from.
Through that agenda, the best of our leaders will emerge and victory will again be ours.
“The IRS announced that obese Americans are entitled to certain tax breaks.
Apparently, under the new rules, you’re allowed to claim two or more chins as dependents.”