Planning to keep the minority?

A couple of events last week have me worried that the minority leadership in Washington is not interested in becoming the majority party.  First, the Republican leadership went along with the Democrats sham of an ethics reform package.  The Republicans refused to score political points by exposing this bill for what it was and not explaining to the public how Democrats are maintaining, if not increasing, the so-called “culture of corruption”.  Instead, we can only guess the minority leadership is happy to go along with Democrat earmarking as long as Republicans get their pet projects funded too.

Then Republicans got the gift of the number 3 House Democrat saying that success in Iraq could become a problem for the Democrats.  How is success for America bad for anyone but America’s enemies?  Yet this is the view of the number 3 House Democrat, not some obscure Move.Org backbencher.  The Republican minority leadership’s response was, well, we’re waiting…

So is anyone really surprised that the Democrats thought they could overrule democracy and ignore a House vote last Friday night that turned out unfavorable to them?  To be fair, it might have been an honest mistake by the Democrats, but whether it was or was not, I doubt they expected the Republican minority leadership to do much about it.

The Republican leadership needs to get their confidence back and understand what wins over voters.  They win when they campaign on limited government and a strong national defense.  But they lose when they govern as Democrats.  If the minority leadership does not learn this fast, there will be a train wreck in 2008?

Bill Clinton went from being considered a disaster in 1994 to a hero in 1996.  He did this by picking fights with the Republicans (usually over trivial matters) and convincing the Democrat party to stand united.

Arizona has two Democrat controlled House seats that the Republicans can actually win back.  But that requires a willingness among leadership to fight for it.  The general election voter needs to feel there is a difference between the parties other than one is less corrupt than the other.  With Congressional approval ratings at 14%, Republicans have an opportunity.

Does the minority leadership have aspirations to become the majority?


  1. George of the Desert says

    It’s not my job to defend anyone in Congress, but having once worked for a Member, I know how some of these things work.

    It would be political suicide to vote against that ethics package, even though it was a sham. Why? Anyone who votes against it will eventually have TV, radio and mailer ads run against him (or her) screaming that “Congressman Sixpack voted AGAINST an ethics reform bill” and then make it seem like that Member is the slimiest person since Caligula. The GOP can scream bloody murder about the weaknesses of the Dem ethics bill, and they would be right. But the average voter would not spend time to listen to that argument. Campaigns are won and lost on general themes, not a parsing of the inticracies of any one bill. It’s called demagoguing, and it’s how campaigns operate.

    The other two issues brought up would be more easily explained, and in the case of the stolen vote, John Shadegg, Roy Blunt and John Boehner made as much noise as they could about it. But again, it’s inside baseball, and most people don’t care (even though they should).

    Finally, the biggest problem is one of size. Clinton was a p.r. genius (sadly, “W” is not) and as president, he had the command of the bully pulpit to get his message across. Whereas in Congress you have hundreds of different people (you could fairly describe it as 535 senior class presidents in one place) and each of those people has an agenda. Even when you narrow that down to the GOP or Dem contingents, you aren’t likely to get a united message. Heck, Hary Reid has his agenda, Pelosi has hers… You get the idea.

    Add to this way in which the mainstream media ignores the GOP except to damage it, you aren’t going to win the p.r. war – yet. Sites like this one help, but we need more than political junkies to care about this stuff.

  2. While I agree in some sense with what George has said, I also think that Chad is right. Let’s face it, the Republicans in Congress are suffering Post Traumatic Stress from the ’06 elections. Those who survived the massacre are focused on their own survival, not regaining the majority. As such, there is a fundamental unwillingness outside the most conservative in Congress to engage the Democrats and push forward a message to take back the majority. Most Republicans in the House believe that the majority cannot be won back in ’08, so therefore it’s hard to get the rank and file to take positions that they believe (wrongly I would argue) will jeopardize their own reelection chances. Sad as it might sound, the prevailing attitude within the Republican Conference is every man for themselves.

  3. Our leadership on the state level is lacking as well. How can such a clear shot against Harry Mitchell as his involvement in the late night vote stealing fiasco not even get a mention from the state party? Shadegg was on the radio on Saturday and rightfully took the R leadership to task for accepting a “study” of the events surrounding the vote. Yet, he wouldn’t finger Mitchell as one of the D vote switchers.

    George, you are right, they had to vote for the ethics package. But, they should have said it didn’t go far enough and immediately filed new legislation to make the necessary changes (even though it wouldn’t go anywhere). They could claim the vote and the high ground.

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