The Tundra Tabloids would also add that there needs to be an insistence on term limits as well as ending voting precincts that favor each parties candidates, such rigging of the voting sytem has in part, led to the current troubles and reduced the citizen’s voting power, because it has allowed for party hacks to enjoy public office over more other deserving candidates. KGS
by Paul A. Rahe
We have come a long way in the last twenty months. The President of the United States, his Chief of Staff, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and the Majority Leader in the United States Senate have done for the Republican Party what no Republican could have accomplished. Just as rigor mortis was about to set in, they brought the old corpse back to life. For their efforts on our behalf, we should be forever grateful.
It is easy to lose perspective. It is easy to forget the dire straits in which the Republicans found themselves in and for some time after November, 2008. On the first Tuesday of that month, they were soundly defeated. The Democrats controlled the Presidency and both houses of Congress. In time, when Al Franken was seated and Arlen Specter turned coat, the Democrats would attain El Dorado – a commanding majority in the Senate capable to bringing a filibuster to a screeching halt.
The Republicans initially thought that to get along they would have to go along. Had Nancy Pelosi thrown a little patronage their way when the so-called “stimulus” bill was being put together, had Barack Obama intervened to insist that she include earmarks for compliant Republicans in the House, a great many of them would have voted for the measure. It is to her that we owe their solidarity on the occasion of the vote. She is responsible for the fact that on that occasion they presented themselves to the world as a party of principle. If the Tea-Party Movement, which sprang up in the immediate aftermath of the bill’s passage, was not as resolutely hostile to the Republicans as it was to the Democrats, it was because Pelosi and her minions wanted vengeance, sought it, and got it.
Even when the Tea-Party Movement had emerged, the Republicans were not quick to realize what was in the offing. On 2 May 2009, some six months after the election, Jeb Bush emerged from a meeting with Mitt Romney and House Republican Whip Eric Cantor to announce that it was time for the Republicans to give up “nostalgia about the past” and to leave Ronald Reagan and all that he stood for behind. “You can’t beat something with nothing,” he observed, “and the other side has something. I don’t like it, but they have it, and we have to be respectful and mindful of that.”
Jeb Bush, Mitt Romney, and Eric Cantor may have been slow to grasp what was going on, but it would be a mistake to assume that they are dopes. It was not until early August in that year that I was willing to admit to myself that a political realignment in the Republicans’ favor was a serious possibility; and, as I noted in a piece posted in the aftermath of the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association in early September, I was even then almost entirely alone. At that convention, I had attended a panel on Barack Obama’s first year as President at which not one of the distinguished students of American politics on the panel had in their prepared remarks even mentioned the Tea-Party Movement. And when I asked a question about it, I received a perfunctory answer. It was odd, my interlocutor remarked, that such a movement had emerged in the absence of institutional support. It was, I thought, very odd, very odd, indeed.
Now, thanks to Barack Obama, Rahm Emanuel, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid, the Republicans appear to be on the verge of an historic victory.
I would not be surprised in the slightest if they were to gain more than seventy seats in the House of Representatives and to retake the Senate as well. But, as I intimated in a recent post entitled John Boehner’s Testing Time, nothing is certain, not even now, and Jeb Bush was certainly right about one thing. You cannot beat something with nothing, and in recent years the Republicans have stood for next to nothing. If they are to effect a lasting political realignment — a possibility for which I have argued repeatedly in the last twelve months (first here in August 2009, then in posts linked here and archived here, here, and here) – they must give the American people reason to put their faith in them.
In an earlier post, entitled Patronage, Principles, and Political Parties, I explored the history of American political parties, their propensity to oscillate between being parties of patronage and parties of principle, and the manner in which the American constitution with its separation of powers both requires and subverts parties of principle. In John Boehner’s Testing Time, I drew on this earlier post and suggested that Boehner, Mitch McConnell, and their associates would be well-advised to draft a new Contract with American designed to nationalize the midterm elections and to transform the Republican Party – which has in recent years tended to be a party of patronage oriented towards the needs of particular, local constituencies – into a party of principle capable, at least for the time being, of genuinely governing these United States.
This end, I contended, can be achieved only if the Republicans appropriate for their own use a claim falsely but effectively advanced by Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1936 which – thanks to our current President, his Chief of Staff, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and the Majority Leader in the United States Senate — now rings all too true: that today the American republic is threatened by a conspiracy, that “a small group” of individuals, lead by Obama, Emanuel, Pelosi, and Reid, is intent on concentrating “into their own hands an almost complete control over other people’s property, other people’s money, other people’s labor — other people’s lives.” If they wish to effect a realignment, I argued, all that the Republicans have to do is to complete the task of unmasking begun by Obama, Pelosi, Reid, and Emanuel and make it clear that they really do intend to repeal Obamacare, to balance the federal budget without enacting permanent tax increases, to roll back the scope and size of the administrative state, and to restore within these United States limited, constitutional government.
To this end, they not only need to spell out in some detail what they intend to do; they need, as I argued in that earlier post, to justify their proposals in terms of constitutional principles. To grasp what this entails, they will need to specify what these principles are. Here is how this can be done.