Thursday, November 09, 2006

Coming Back to Life

Hi everyone!

Sorry I haven't posted for a week, but things have been pretty busy. I did my volunteer work at the polls (in a lot of rain). I had more volunteers than my Dem counterparts, and Frank Wolf (R-VA-10) won in my precinct and his re-election. The Virginia Marriage Amendment passed got the biggest vote in my precinct and won statewide, 57 - 43%. George Allen lost (narrowly) in my precinct and his re-election, apparently. The basic upshot is that I've been busy, followed by being tired, followed by being depressed.

So anyway, I've been piecing together what happened. It's not like I am as "learned" as those paid pundits, but still, I got to get this out of my system just like everyone else. So what do we have?
  1. The six-year curse. It hits everyone (except Bill Clinton, right?)
  2. The scandals. Yes, Abramoff didn't do anyone any favors, and neither did Mark Foley or Randy "Duke" Cunningham. From some of the trends I was reading, the President and the Republicans were rising in public approval before the Foley scandal hit. The GOP never really recovered, or whatever happened was too little too late (even with John Kerry's gaffe).
  3. The war. Yeah, people are weary. A lot of debate is going on about how right or wrong outgoing Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has been. We will have to look back in another ten years to decide. However, this is one area in which I put some blame on the press. Our troops and supporting civilians have done heroic work over in Iraq and have gotten precious little recognition from the mainstream media. You have to be insane political junkies like us just to know where to look. Well, we saw the results, didn't we?

Today's Wall Street Journal had an interesting opinion piece by former Congressman Dick Armey (now chairman of Freedomworks). He talked about how the GOP had lost its purpose from when it was elected in 1994. Here is a great passage:

Eventually, the policy innovators and the "Spirit of '94" were largely replaced by political bureaucrats driven by a narrow vision. Their question became: How do we hold onto political power? The aberrant behavior and scandals that ended up defining the Republican majority in 2006 were a direct consequence of this shift in choice criteria from policy to political power.

Nowhere was this turn more evident than in the complete collapse of fiscal discipline in the budgeting process. For most Republican candidates, fiscal responsibility is our political bread and butter. No matter how voters view other, more divisive issues from abortion to stem-cell research, Republicans have traditionally enjoyed a clear advantage with a majority of Americans on basic pocketbook issues. "We will spend your money carefully and we will keep your taxes low." That was our commitment. This year, no incumbent Republican (even those who fought for restraint) could credibly make that claim. The national vision--less government and lower taxes--was replaced with what Jack Abramoff infamously called his "favor factory." One Republican leader actually defended a questionable appropriation of taxpayer dollars, saying it was a reasonable price to pay for holding a Republican seat. What was most remarkable was not even the admission itself, but that it was acknowledged so openly. Wasn't that the attitude we were fighting against in 1994?

I would take what he said another step: Growing government does not endear anyone, not even the beneficiaries, to Republicans. All the Republicans have managed to do is enrich bureaucrats, grantees, and contractors, who in turn lean Democratic. Republicans need to shrink government not only to reduce taxes, cut unnecessary regulations, and to boost the economy, but also to cut off the left financially.

When will we ever learn? Let's hope we don't have to wait 40 years to get another chance!