As Speaker Paul Ryan prepares to conduct a CNN townhall this week, Republicans are reeling from a year that has not gone as expected. Last November seems like a lifetime ago, and nothing substantial that the GOP promised on the campaign trail has come to pass. At every level, the conservative agenda has stalled, and drama coming out of the White House has distracted from the fact that the do nothing Congress has done nothing. The American people are angry, and many conservative voters are checking out.
Ryan must make clear on Monday night that Republicans still have some semblance of a plan, and that there is still time to recover from these disastrous first 8 months of total Republican control of Washington. He must also demonstrate a scrappiness when it comes to overcoming Democratic obstructionism that has plagued passage of any conservative reform bills. Unfortunately for freedom-loving conservatives, Democrats are a more aggressive majority party and a more determined minority party. Their tenacity gives them an edge when it comes to killing the conservative agenda, especially with the liberal media on their side. Paul Ryan must adjust his tactics to go on the offense, instead of sitting-back playing defense with Democrats.
Ryan needs to take a page from New Gingrich’s 1994 “Contract With America.” Gingrich’s policy blueprint was crafted with the involvement of the entire House Republican Caucus, and included proposals that had broad support among GOP members for passage. Gingrich’s “Contract” contained 10 heavily supported Republican initiatives, all of which had already been polled with the American public. By managing the message and effectively marshaling GOP members, Gingrich was able to pass most every item on the list, and send bills to Bill Clinton’s desk.
While Ryan has a Republican president on the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, the Republican Congress is going to have to drown-out the drama and background noise, and pass Republican priorities to send to the President. There is too much handwringing and not enough action on critical items the American people are demanding. From trying again on Obamacare repeal, to working-out how to balance the federal budget, Speaker Ryan and his caucus need to convince the American people that they can govern like adults. Democrats are in disarray, and their only salvation is the continued Republican circus in Washington resulting from rudderless leadership.
Ryan needs to press the reset button Monday night on CNN in order to regain any credibility. If he and his lieutenants don’t lay-out a plan and get back on track by the end of the year, then next year will be even more chaotic and it will culminate in the election of a Democratic Congress led by Nancy Pelosi. If we are ever going to pull this great nation back from the precipice of economic and cultural ruin, then this Congress must act now to restore limited government, balance our budget, defund Planned Parenthood, and repeal Obamacare.
For Congressional Republicans, an old Elvis Pressley song is applicable here: “it’s now or never…tomorrow will be too late.”