And do they deserve to win big this November? And if they do win, do they know what to do? Can they ever be trusted again? A pre-election symposium, from our Summer Issue.
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The day after Scott Brown drove his green GMC Canyon into the history books, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the highest-ranking elected Republican in the nation, said Brown won because “Americans are electing good Republican candidates who they hope will reverse a yearlong Democrat trend of spending too much, borrowing too much, and taxing too much.” Six days later, McConnell released a list of seven “Suggestions for the State of the Union to Reduce Government Spending.” Not one of the seven cut a dime from the federal budget. Twelve days after that, McConnell issued a press release attacking Democrats for cutting Medicare.
No wonder the Republican Party is undergoing an identity crisis. When Republicans attack Democrats for deficit spending and bailouts, Democrats respond, “Um, you guys did that, too!” Republicans are left complaining not that Democrats do these bad things, but that Democrats take them to 11. Voters don’t know which party to trust.
Republican voters are especially disenchanted. They took one big lesson from the George W. Bush years: Republican politicians will act like Democrats if we let them. Republican primary can-didates are tapping into that better than the leadership is. Many are running as much against their own party’s leadership as against the Democrats. It’s a big reason why Marco Rubio, Rick Perry, and Rand Paul will be GOP nominees this year, and not Charlie Crist, Kay Bailey Hutchison, and Trey Grayson.
Still, voters fleeing the Obama/Pelosi/Reid agenda this fall will wind up with the GOP by de-fault, not because the GOP has done anything to lure voters back. If the Democrats’ overreach brings big GOP victories, it will confirm the Republican establishment view that as long as the Democrats are too radical for the American people, the Republicans can win by offering to spend, regulate, and tax just a little less than the Democrats do.
The GOP base realizes what the establishment doesn’t: America’s welfare state cannot sur-vive as is. Substantial change is needed, and the party that achieves it will be best positioned to maintain power for years. Thus, the fate of the GOP depends on who controls the party’s agenda if Republicans win back some power this fall: the establishment or the reformers. The people don’t want Obama’s big government, but they do want change. A GOP that doesn’t offer it will not stay in power for long.
Andrew Cline is editorial page editor of the New Hampshire Union Leader.
Before Republicans worry about beating Democrats, we must focus on defeating the appropriations system that has put our country in financial peril.
The appropriations committees in the House and Senate are tasked with spending taxpayers’ money, and many of those powerful committee members believe it is the job of Congress to direct federal spending to parochial interests and pet projects.
Multiply that mentality by 535 members of Congress and the result is a $13 trillion national debt. That’s why every politician bemoans Washington spending on the campaign trail, but actual spending bills are never defeated.
Senior appropriators, Republicans and Democrats, effectively control the House and the Senate using the power of the purse. They buy other members of Congress off with earmarks, which makes it difficult for anyone who accepts earmarks to cut overall spending. It would amount to biting the hand that feeds. Appropriators dominate leadership positions in both parties and are chairman and ranking members of major policy-making committees. They decide how money gets spent, who gets earmarks, how bills get written, and who gets shut out of the closed-door negotiations.
Most importantly, they work in harmony to drive up spending, borrowing, and debt, with no regard to their party label. Shrinking the federal largesse would diminish their power, so they have a built-in incentive to grow government.
That dynamic has caused too many politicians to lose sight of what the voters send them to Washington to do: uphold the Constitution that proscribes a limited federal government. Congress is supposed to focus on national priorities and leave state and local decisions to states and local governments.
Although President Obama’s bailouts and takeovers have been useful in uniting Republicans against his liberal agenda, the GOP is still not united in its commitment to cut spending and debt. The appropriations system has too much control and it will take an earthquake election to break its grip over the party.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online