We all know what message the American people sent to the federal government last November. The major news media, President Clinton and his cheering section, and others of the left are reluctant to concede it. Some even went so far as to liken the vote to a two-year-old’s temper tantrum. But even they know that the American people are becoming fed up with government that oversteps the bounds set for it in our Constitution. Americans are beginning to understand the damage already done by big government; and to fear the prospects for their children and grandchildren if present trends continue.
Because most Americans identify the Democratic Party with the kind of intrusive government that they no longer want, they naturally turned to Republicans as the antidote in November. How Republicans respond to this opportunity will not only determine the future of the party, but also influence that of the country itself.
There are several different roles that the Republican Party could play as we close out the 1900s. The party might take seriously the mandate given it by the people. If it does, Republicans could lead America into a free and prosperous twenty first century.
On the other hand, the party might merely fine-tune the socialism that afflicts our nation, without cutting the government down to a Constitutional size and reach. In that case, Republicans may preside over the final descent of America into a world-wide socialist tyranny, perhaps at a somewhat slower pace than would occur under Democratic leadership. Or the party could become irrelevant as the Democrats fight it out with some new Constitutionalist party. The pressures to continue the socialist trend are great; and the signs that the Republican congressional leaders have caved in are numerous. Rank and file Republicans need to fight this tendency every step of the way.
There are many sources of pressure pushing members of Congress to continue down the socialist path. I would boil them all down to three basics: misplaced loyalty to party leaders, fear of the “extremist” label, and fear that Americans’ dependence on government is irreversible. In Part 1, we will discuss the misplaced loyalty factor.
How does a person get to the top of a party’s congressional leadership? He does it by being, above all, an effective politician. All too often that means being adept at dealing in favors, rewarding and punishing supporters and opponents, and arranging to be on the winning side without regard to whether it is the right side. It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a man of principle to become the leader of a party’s congressional delegation.
Party loyalty does have a legitimate place. But it should be based on commitment to the principles of the party, not to the people who lead the party. I like to think that the basic principle of the Republican Party is loyalty to the Constitution. Where party leaders have other loyalties, Republicans in Congress should do what is right, not what they are told to do by the leadership. If necessary, they should replace the offending leader with someone who can lead without deviating from the party’s principles.
What kinds of deviations am I talking about here? Look at the congressional leaders’ anti-terrorism bill. It authorizes the executive branch of the federal government, including even the military, to involve itself in all kinds of law enforcement that are rightfully under the jurisdiction of the states. How about their crime bill? It continues and even expands the federal takeover of law enforcement that Clinton’s crime bill took to such extremes. Their line item veto hands unprecedented power to a president whose unpopular, socialist ideas brought many of those Republicans into office.
Do you think that Newt Gingrich is committed to the Constitution? Perhaps his greatest obsession is the “Third Wave” sophistries of Alvin Toffler. Gingrich claims that it is our “failure to apply the Toffler Third Wave model” that “has kept our politics trapped in frustration, negativism, cynicism, and despair.” What does this model have to say about the Constitution? The latest Toffler book, Creating a New Civilization, says that “the Constitution of the United States needs to be reconsidered and altered,” and that “the system that served us so well for so long…now must, in its turn, die and be replaced.”
Is it any surprise that this man is leading congressional Republicans down a path that leads away from a constitutionally limited government? Loyalty to Republican leaders like this is misplaced loyalty, and is a factor in the disappointing performance of the new Republican majority.
Republicans in Congress need to elect new House and Senate leaders who take seriously their oath to support the Constitution. The voters need to hold all members of Congress responsible for that oath as well.