Saturday, January 07, 2006

What happened to the Republicans of yesteryear?

Reagan, Gingrich, and a host of other "real conservatives" promised a future of smaller government and the closure of such nonsense as PBS, NPR, Dept. of Commerce, Dept. of Education, and the end of government subsidies, etc. The list was great to dream about but of course virtually none of it happened. Instead, all the promises (except tax cuts) were not only tossed in the trash, the budgets of those to be made extinct mushroomed beyond imagination. The party of small government has instead turned into just another form of big government, only for other issues than those of the left.

Instead of running on their pledge of smaller government, the drug of power seems to have taken over the Republican Party and it appears their pledged policies of yesteryear has truly become more a nightmare than a dream. As Peggy Noonen noted in her latest column, government is like a steamroller and it's simply not going to go away....ever. It seems we are destined to become more and more socialist and less and less free from big government intrusions into every aspect of our personal lives and businesses.

Federalization of crime, education, poverty,and health care are just a few examples of the growth of big government...even with the Republicans at the wheel. Why, even entertainment and sports are in the sights of the bureaucrats, soon to be regulated from Wash. D.C.

The WSJ stated our problems rather succinctly, addressing the Abramoff scandal:

This week's plea agreement by "super-lobbyist" Jack Abramoff has Republicans either rushing to return his campaign contributions in an act of cosmetic distancing, accuse Democrats of being equally corrupt, or embrace some new "lobbying reform" that would further insulate Members of Congress from political accountability.

Here's a better strategy: Banish the Abramoff crowd from polite Republican society, and start remembering why you were elected in the first place.

More broadly, however, the Abramoff scandal wouldn't resonate nearly as much with the public if it didn't fit a GOP pattern of becoming cozy with Beltway mores. The party that swept to power on term limits, spending restraint and reform has become the party of incumbency, 6,371 highway-bill "earmarks," and K Street. And it's no defense to say that Democrats would do the same. Of course Democrats would, but then they've always claimed to be the party of government. If that's what voters want, they'll choose the real thing.

One danger now is that, rather than change their own behavior, Republicans will think they can hide behind the political cover of "lobbying reform." While this has various guises, most proposals amount to putting further restrictions not on Congress but on "the right of the people . . . to petition the government," as the Constitution puts it explicitly.

Republicans won't escape voter anger by writing new rules but only by returning to their self-professed principles. Gradually since 1994 they've decided they want to reform and limit government less than they want to use government to entrench their own power, and in the case of the Abramoffs to get rich doing so. If Speaker Dennis Hastert, interim Majority Leader Roy Blunt and other GOP leaders are too insulated to realize this, then Republicans need new leaders, and right away.

Can I get an AMEN?

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