Being for Something - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Being for Something

Building on what Jim wrote below, I’d note that the idea of being for something is a bit overrated in purely political terms. When it’s an election year, sure, it certainly helps to have a positive agenda that you can argue in favor of, but that’s always easy to roll out during a campaign. When it’s the legislative season and you don’t have the numbers to see your alternative proposals become law because you’re in the minority party, it’s much better to concentrate your fire on picking apart the proposal that may actually get signed, because you can always present alternatives when the political climate is more favorable. At least two examples come time mind. One is when the Republicans defeated the Clinton health care proposal in 1993/94 without presenting a true alternative plan and waited until six weeks before the 1994 midterm elections to unveil the “Contract With America.” In 2005, Democrats purposely did not present a serious alternative to President Bush’s Social Security reform effort, but instead kept beating the drum that he wanted to destroy Social Security until public support for the proposal cratered. It wasn’t until the following summer, about three months before the 2006 elections, that Democrats rolled out their “Six for ’06” agenda. The bottom line is that most Americans hardly have time to examine the dominant piece of legislation, let alone pay attention to various counter-proposals floating through Congress. The only time “being for something” matters is when the public is fed up with the ruling party and eager for change, and thus open to the argument that a different approach would be better.

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