From the Diaries by Erick.
My first political act was attending a Ronald Reagan rally back in 1980.
Since then I've watched with great disappointment the ability of the GOP to turn opportunities into wasted piles of crap and to push soft Republicans and weary independents into the arms of the Democrats or those who don't vote.
Such moves have led to this kind of apathy among even people who would love to be dedicated Republicans: "Unfortunately neither party, once in power appears to be terribly concerned with limiting their own power" and "The only people I see truly dedicated to limiting government are the Tea Party, but I'm not so sure they can get enough broad support to make it happen" (both real quotes from friends of mine in response to a note I posted on facebook).
Let me ask you this question: If you were to survey ten of your closest friends who you considered soft Republicans (they either voted for Obama or considered it), what would they say the number one issue for the Republicans should be after they win in November?
I'm betting you either said "cut government spending" or "get rid of healthcare" or "make government smaller."
Now ask them a different question. "Where did the GOP go wrong in the 1990s and the early 2000s when they had control?"
They will probably say one of two things "they spent too much" or "they wasted all their time investigating Clinton."
At least that has been my experience in talking to my "soft" Republican and independent friends who lean conservative in their ideals.
Rolling to victory in November
The Republicans are rolling to victory in November. I think they will be slightly short when it comes to the Senate but they should be able to make a big enough dent that we can ignore the moderates most of the time and still pull a fillibuster out of the hat.
And why are we going to win? Because the enemy of my enemy is my friend. It is not that the GOP suddenly has a fabulous message (although they are at least back on message) as it is that they are terrified of what Barak Obama is doing to the country and so they are planning to hamstring Barak as much as possible.
Don't get me wrong, there are definitely some people out there who would love to come back to the GOP for good and the momentum is ours for the taking.
I'm happy and I think we are adding some great conservative voices to the Congress.
So why the doom and gloom headline?
Because we've been here before -- 2002 -- It should've been great. Control of congress, GOP President and all we got is bigger government and a lot of pissed off independents and soft Republicans.
Will we never learn?
So what do our leaders have in store for the new congress?
Republican staffers say there won't be any self-destructive witch hunts, but they clearly are relishing the prospect of extracting information from an administration that touts transparency.
And a handful of aggressive would-be committee chairmen — led by Reps. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and Lamar Smith, R-Texas — are quietly gearing up for a possible season of subpoenas not seen since the Clinton wars of the late 1990s.
Fabulous! Because everywhere I go in America, I hear people saying "Hey, let's take over congress so we can probe the White House." That's right, people want to probe the White House because that's so important to them.
No, it's not. It's important to congressmen and professional politicians who want to take some scalps.
We, out here, would like some jobs and some lower taxes and maybe divesting the country of Fannie, Freddie, and GM.
2) As Erick noted here, the GOP plans to allow earmarking again.
Really? Because that has worked out so well for both the country and the GOP as a whole.
Compare Eric Cantor's attitude on earmarks here:
“Republicans may roll back their ban on earmarks, as long as the spending items have ‘merit.’”
with Reagan's approach to earmarks by not only vetoeing bills that had them but by trying to actually use a legal constitutional argument to ignore them (since they were not in the law themselves but were in the report language and not the bill itself).
Finally, check that against the attitude of President James Madison when he vetoed the first ever bill that contained earmarks:
President James Madison vetoed the bill as unconstitutional. He explains his reasoning to Congress in his veto message:
Having considered the bill ... I am constrained by the insuperable difficulty I feel in reconciling this bill with the Constitution of the United States. ... The legislative powers vested in Congress are specified ... in the ... Constitution, and it does not appear that the power proposed to be exercised by the bill is among the enumerated powers. ...
And regarding the General Welfare Clause, Madison responds:
Such a view of the Constitution would have the effect of giving to Congress a general power of legislation instead of the defined and limited one hitherto understood to belong to them, the terms 'common defense and general welfare' embracing every object and act within the purview of a legislative trust.
What I wouldn't give to get every member of congress on record on their views on that! Talk about made for political ad fodder.
3) The continued love affair with offshoring jobs and H-1B visas
The final issue (and I admit that I don't have any sure fire way to fix this issue) is the GOP's obsession with making it easier to offshore jobs and increase H-1B visas.
This may be one of the reasons (along with abortion) that Carly Fiorina lags behind Meg Whitman in California. Carly was the great outsourcer at HP and one of the most vocal supporters of giving away American jobs to cheaper foreigners (sorry folks, with layoffs and the recession, there are no more than a handful of jobs that we couldn't find a displaced American IT worker to fill quite ablely).
While in its infancy, this may have been a great way to give the top 1% of smart people from around the world a pathway to America, it has become about pandering to the big companies that provide the GOP with campaign money and undercutting workers salaries.
How To Prevent the Problem
Is there a way to prevent a return to the wilderness? There is although it's hard for me to believe that our congressional leaders are smart enough to listen to us when we tell them what it is.
Congress should be ruled by three principles:
1) With regards to the use of their time (i.e. to investigate or not to investigate), congress critters should ask themselves "Is this the best use of my time to alleviate the problems of the American people?" or "Am I solving one of the top five problems that affects the American people?"
We don't need endless news cycles about subpoenas and and who told who what if we want to stay in the business of ruling the country. If you want to take political scalps, resign from congress and go home and join the local homeowner's association.
How about taking your time on the government oversight committee to check for wasteful spending and try to find one hundred regulations to cut during the first hundred days you are in congress?
How about spending your committee time asking questions about why all of the positions in a given department need to be filled?
How about spending your time asking department secretaries which programs could be combined so that the American people could save some money?
2) With regards to the use of our money, congress should ask, "How can I reduce the size of government?" and "Is this a critical need to help the American people?" and "Would I donate my own money for a project like this?"
Selling off Fannie, Freddie, GM, etc would quickly reduce the size of government.
Earmarks are never going to be the answer in a case like this. Do you know what the polls for 2012 would look like if the House of Representatives passed an earmark free appropriations bill in the coming year? I guarentee that we could push it through the Senate as well simply by shaming people into voting for it (especially Dem's up for election in 2012)?
This simple act would lead to a huge movement from independents into the GOP tent on a permanent or semi-permanent basis.
3) With regards to taxes, tariffs, visas, illegal immigration enforcement, congressmen should ask themselves this question: "What policies can I enact that will create the most private sector jobs for America for the next year, ten years, and forty years?"
Realisitically looking at a big reduction in federal regulations, lowering taxes down to level of 20% of GDP, shuttering businesses that hire illegal aliens, and increased border security will all open up opportunities for Americans displaced either through overregulation or through the taking of jobs by illegals.
Finally, we need to pick our 2012 presidential nominee with care
Finally, when November is done, we need to pick our GOP nominee carefully.
I know we all have our favorites (I have mine as well ), but we ALL (myself included) will need to take a hard look at our nominees and find someone who will and HAS fought for smaller government not just talked about it.
The last thing we need to do is to turnover a GOP leaning (or hopefully completely owned) congress to a "big government conservative" (scare quotes intended to be REALLY scary) in 2012.
Or even worse nominate an unelectable Bob Dole type (I know it's your turn, but this isn't the local deli counter!).
There should be at least two or three ELECTABLE, CONSERVATIVE choices out there.
For now, push those Republicans through to November and then be ready to hold their feet to the fire!
Politicians seem to have a gene in their system that turns them from conservatives into trough suckers once they get to Washington.
We need to remind them who is boss and push them to choose conservative leaders like Jim DeMint and Paul Ryan and ignore the Mitch McConnells and Eric Cantors of the world.
Remember that if we don't push our congressmen on a regular basis on how to govern then we will be right back in the wilderness in 2014.