There is an amazing opportunity for conservatives in the 2010 elections if we can determine the most effective way to capitalize on it. Election history would seem to favor the republican party next year but we are faced with a number of obstacles that must be overcome.
In 1994, Newt Gingrich was able to unite the party around a core of ideas and beliefs contained in the Contract with America, and then use that as a vehicle to win 54 seats in the house and put the republicans in control of congress for the first time in 40 years. In 2010 we only need 40 seats to take back the House of Representatives.
As we conservatives look ahead to next years election though, the situation is somewhat different than it was in 1994. We do not have a national figure out on stage promoting a conservative agenda. Not even Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh are promoting a positive conservative agenda. Unless I am missing something, the only agenda we have right now is “NO”. Opposing this administration and it’s radical policies is important but I believe we must also offer people an legitimate alternative.
Obama’s approval numbers have been dropping but it should be noted that Americans are still not ready to embrace the republican party again either. I believe that most Americans feel that if the republicans are returned to power they will once again resume the big spending and corrupt ways that they have demonstrated in the past.
It is perhaps a good thing that the conservative movement has no recognized leader as Americans have justifiably lost faith in candidates of both political parties. When they vote they tend to display a proclivity to select their version of the lesser of two evils, or the person they believe will do the least amount of harm. However, as has been pointed out in the past, the lesser of two evils is still evil. Conservatives want to be able to cast a vote for someone they have faith in, rather than against someone that they distrust. If you’re a conservative, the chances are pretty good that you held your nose and voted for John McCain this last election not because you liked him but because he was better than the alternative. Or perhaps you simply stayed home on election day.
In the absence of strong conservative leadership, it falls to the general citizenry to establish a positive agenda and let our leaders know our demands. Simply being in opposition to what is currently being offered will not advance our position. What I propose is that “We the People” begin to establish a platform that can win elections and help to bring our country back from the dangers of socialism and inevitable slide to communism that follows. In the spirit of the Contract with America, I would recommend that we shy away from controversial issues and stay with things that can appeal to reasonable people on all sides of the political battle. This can be done while still submitting ideas that will greatly affect the direction of the country.
Here is a short list of some of the proposals that I would offer:
1.) Bring back The Citizen Legislature Act from the Contract with America. This would have amended the Constitution and would have imposed 12-year term limits on members of the US Congress. Sadly, it was rejected by the U.S. House by a 227-204 vote on March 29, 1995.
When the Constitution was written, the nation’s founders expected that there would be a 50% turnover in the House of Representatives every election cycle, and for well over 100 years the turnover averaged in the 50% range as expected. In the 20th century, turnover began to decline. As power and prestige flowed to Washington during the New Deal era, fewer and fewer members of Congress wanted to leave. In 1968, congressional turnover fell to single digits for the first time ever, and it has remained very low every since.
2.) Revoke many of the privileges that members of congress have given themselves, including their private pension plans and health insurance. If the laws that they pass are good enough for us, they should be expected to play by the same rules. This would include downsizing the 89th airlift wing that members of congress use to fly themselves around the country and around the world. Perhaps if we stop allowing these people to treat themselves like royalty they will once again remember that they are the servants of “We the People”.
3.) Eliminate the automatic pay raises that members of congress have given themselves. The rest of the country is dealing with the real possibility of losing their jobs or having to take pay cuts. Why should members of congress continue to make more and more money. Politicians love to point out the greed and corruption in the private sector, yet they are just as guilty if not more so.
A little background on congressional pay:
The 27th Amendment to the Constitution states: “No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of Representatives shall have intervened“.
This Amendment was originally proposed on September 25, 1789, as an article in the original Bill of Rights. It sat, un-ratified and with no expiration date and in constitutional limbo, for more than 180 years. Then, in the early 1980’s, Gregory Watson, an aide to a Texas legislator, took up the proposed amendment’s cause. From 1983 to 1992, the requisite number of states ratified the amendment, and it was declared ratified on May 7, 1992. I wonder if it’s a coincidence that three years prior to the amendment being ratified, the democrat controlled congress opted to avoid any further contentious debate on pay raises by making them automatic.
4.) “Earmarks” need to be completely eliminated to prevent politicians from using tax payer dollars in a way that is financially beneficial to themselves. Both parties are guilty of this, but the most grievous offenses seem to be committed by the democrats. One of the latest examples of this was the money from the stimulus bill that was sent to a certain district in California for a “neighborhood redevelopment project”. I’m sure that it’s another coincidence that the Speaker of the House happens to own property in that neighborhood.
These four recommendations have all been focused on congress because it is my belief that these people, (in both parties), are one of the biggest problems that we as a nation face. Given the unrepentant and royalty attitude of Congress, we need to establish new “rules of conduct” and remind them who they work for. These are all non-partisan and non political proposals that should gain support across political party lines. It might even be fair to say that this is “change you can believe in”.
There are other issues that need to be articulated and added to a conservative platform such as an alternative to the radical energy policies proposed by this administration that endanger our security and prosperity. Border security should be addressed in a manner that is palatable for the majority of Americans.
I hear people saying that the conservative movement needs a new leader or “another Ronald Reagan”. Eventually that person may come along, but I believe that it the base that must guide the future of the Republican party. “We the People” must be the ones dictating the agenda and require our leaders to carry out our wishes. Democracy and freedom isn’t easy, you’ve got to want it and be willing to work for it. People who are waiting for the “next Reagan” are looking for someone else to do the work for them and most of the time will be disappointed.
There are many really good conservative spokesman and women out there who are very good at expressing what conservatism is and what it is not, but I do not believe that they have the capacity to be leaders, or even want to be in many cases. I believe that this battle will be won or lost by you and I as citizens defending what we believe to be right, not by some “savior” with a magic wand. I also believe that it is a battle that we MUST win. The stakes are too high not to.
In the fall of 1964, Ronald Reagan gave a speech in support of Barry Goldwater’s bid for the presidency. While the whole speech was a proverbial “home run” and would launch one of the greatest careers in political history, a few points such as this stand out above the rest.
“We’re at war with the most dangerous enemy that has ever faced mankind in his long climb from the swamp to the stars, and it’s been said if we lose that war, and in so doing lose this way of freedom of ours, history will record with the greatest astonishment that those who had the most to lose did the least to prevent its happening.”-A Time for Choosing, October 27, 1964
Reagan was referring to the dangers presented by Soviet communism when he made those comments but I submit that he could just as easily been speaking about the very important issues we face today.
Throughout the summer, Americans who are fed up with government spending, public debt and the taxes that will be coming soon to pay for it all have been holding “Tea Parties” all over this country. As near as I can tell, the government has been mocking and ignoring these protests in much the same way that the warnings from the first tea party were ignored by the British government in 1774. The following year the first continental congress was formed and we began down the road to the revolutionary war.
What I am proposing is somewhat less drastic in it’s measures.