In a Free Society, Campaigns Matter: The GOP Must Give Voters a Clear Choice
The elite media are giddy with anti-Republican euphoria. Their coverage has not been this biased against Republicans in three decades.
The Democrats are excited and convinced they will win a big victory.
Republicans are worried, demoralized and confused. I have been in eight states recently and the mood is similar everywhere.
Yet, an election is a choice between two futures. By simply comparing the positions of each party based upon historic facts, the choice of the desired future will become clear to the majority of the American people. And that choice is neither one in which Democrats celebrate nor Republicans concede.
Here is the choice for 2006.
A Vital Moment for America: Who Is Historically Right, and Who Is Historically Wrong?
Republicans should enter these closing weeks of the election with clarity, conviction and confidence. The GOP owes it to the American people to give them an inspiring choice. When you are right, you have confidence.
The theme is simple: We can’t go back to the failed policies of the past.
- Republicans are right on defeating terrorism, and the left is wrong in wanting to run and hide from danger and take up the disastrous policies of appeasement and weakness that defined the Carter Administration. Americans should never again face a 444-day hostage crisis in Iran or an energy policy which leads to gasoline rationing. If every American understood the consequences of losing to the terrorists, the Democrats would lose seats this November.
- Republicans are right on cutting taxes and growing a better economy, and the left is wrong in their desire to raise taxes, enlarge command-and-control bureaucracies and return to their failed economic policies, which during the Carter Administration pushed America into the deepest recession since the Great Depression. It was a Democrat Congress and a Democrat administration that presided over interest rates of 22 percent and inflation at 13 percent, and it was a Democrat President who gave a speech in which he lectured the American people to expect less and to lower their standards. If every American knew that Congressman Charlie Rangel (N.Y.), the Democrat choice to head the Ways and Means Committee, had promised to raise their taxes, the Democrats would lose seats this fall.
- Republicans are right to favor traditional American conservative social values, and the left is completely wrong to put San Francisco left-wing values third in line to be President by electing Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) to speaker of the House. If every American knew the Pelosi voting record, the Democrats would lose seats this fall.
Republicans can turn this around, but they must make the case.
That is what campaigns are for.
In an Election, Three Weeks Is a Long Time
I learned this lesson in 1978 in my third campaign for Congress. In mid-September, my Democrat opponent was ahead 51 to 37. Like most liberals, in the district she pretended she was a conservative, but two key votes in Congress gave her away. One on welfare reform and the other on taxes, in each case she voted her values as a liberal.
We believed we could win the campaign based on one big truth — she was a liberal — versus one big lie — her pretending she was a conservative.
Every element of our campaign kept coming back to this simple theme: “She knows her record, she hopes you don’t.” This was our consistent way of saying: “She knows she is a liberal, and she is afraid to tell the truth about it, because she knows you will vote against her if you learn the truth.”
We won 54 to 46. That meant that in five weeks of campaigning we had moved from a 14-point deficit to an eight-point majority. I gained 17 percentage points and my liberal opponent, once exposed, lost 5 percentage points.
The Democrat, Left-Wing Activist, News Media, Big Lie Campaign
When Republicans tell the truth, Republicans win. When Republicans allow the left to hide their record, fudge their values and distort the facts, Republicans lose. When Republicans passively accept smearing, Republicans lose. When Republicans can’t explain or define the choice, Republicans lose.
This year’s campaign has been one-sidedly defined by the best-financed left-wing activist system in history. From George Soros on, the amount of money spent attacking Republicans dwarfs anything ever tried before.
The Democrats have spent their time in a disciplined assault on Republicans while hiding everything they stand for.
The elite media now sense a chance to beat Republicans and are shamelessly one-sided in their effort to defame and defeat the GOP.
If they are allowed to get away with this one-sided campaign, they will win.
If that happens, Republicans will deserve the left-wing Congress that will then try to impose its post-election liberal values.
The Big Truth as a Disciplined Answer to the Big Lie
When you are a conservative, you have to assume the news media will be against you. That is a given. The question is how you design a campaign to win despite that fact.
The answer is straightforward.
You have to find facts that are so powerful they cut through the media clutter and your opponent’s distortions and ring true with the American people.
These facts have to matter personally, historically and politically.
They have to be “big truths” that clear away the ‘big smear” and defeat the “big lie.”
Slowing Down the Campaign
When you are behind and you face a combined onslaught of Democrats, left-wing activists and elite news media, every instinct is to speed up, do something harsh and try to answer every attack.
This reactionary instinct is exactly wrong.
The key to winning the kind of campaign Republicans are in is to slow down, focus on a few very big truths and then insist on bringing everything in the campaign back to these core truths and the choice between the Republican future and the Democrat future.
In 1978, if I had not stayed very tightly focused on two issues — welfare reform and taxes — which proved my opponent was a liberal — I would have lost the election.
In 1980, if President Reagan had not focused on defining the Carter failures and drawing an accurate picture of his own beliefs, he too would have lost.
In 1994, if Republicans had not focused on the positive message of the Contract with America, Republicans would have gained seats but would not have won the majority.
If Republicans are to win, they need to take a deep breath, slow down and focus on winning the handful of arguments which matter personally, historically and politically to the American people.
Republicans Have Three Big Truths for the Closing Weeks of the 2006 Campaign
I believe there are three big truths on which the Republicans could win the 2006 campaign, despite every effort of the news media and the left.
I believe these three truths resonate with people in their personal lives and fit into their sense of America’s historic context and within their political views.
I believe that by driving each of these three truths home, Republicans can win the argument if they insist on slowing down and focusing in order to build a resonating echo effect across the country.
Three Big Thematic Truths
- Promoting a proven economic prosperity agenda of lower taxes and pro-growth policies vs. the failed policies of higher taxes, more regulation and bloated bureaucratic structures of the past.
- Left-wing San Francisco radical ideas vs. the values held by the rest of America
- Defeating terrorism and the dictatorships who threaten America vs. appeasing and being defeated by them
If Republicans calmly and clearly communicate these choice and their consequences and, in particular, are able to win the argument on the three big truths, Republicans will have a much better election day than people expect.
Let me explain each one.
The First Big Truth: America Can’t Go Back to Tax Increases, Big Bureaucracy, Slow Economy, Rising Unemployment and Liberal Policies
It should be easy for Republicans to make the case that your wallet, your job and your country’s economy are at stake in this election.
If you think you have too much money in your family budget, then you have a party to vote for, because Democrats will gladly raise your taxes shifting your money from your family to Washington bureaucrats.
On the other hand, if you think you can spend your own money better than a Washington bureaucrat, then you, too, have a party to vote for, because Republicans will stop Nancy Pelosi and Charlie Rangel from raising your taxes.
The future with a Speaker Pelosi based upon the historic record…
The Democrats’ record is clear.
Nancy Pelosi voted against every Republican tax cut. She voted for the largest tax increase in history.
Nancy Pelosi voted 19 times against eliminating the death tax.
Nancy Pelosi voted five times for raising gasoline taxes.
Nancy Pelosi is so pro-high taxes she was one of only 27 members to vote against tax relief for poor neighborhoods in the inner city (presumably including her constituents in San Francisco).
The Future with Charlie Rangel as chairman of Ways and Means based upon the historic record…
Charlie Rangel is the perfect Ways and Means chairman for a Nancy-Pelosi-San-Francisco-values majority. Rangel recently said he “cannot think of one” of President George W. Bush’s first-term tax cuts that deserve to be continued.
As the Washington Times noted: “Mr. Rangel, of course, voted against the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, he voted against the 2006 measure that extended the 2003 cuts from the end of 2008 to the end of 2010, and he has vociferously opposed making the 2001 and 2003 cuts permanent.”
Failure to sustain the tax cuts would have real impact on people’s lives. As the Heritage Foundation reported, the Rangel position would have the following results:
- Tax rates will rise substantially in each tax bracket, some by 450 basis points;
- Low-income taxpayers will see the 10-percent tax bracket disappear, and they will have to pay taxes at the 15-percent rate;
- Married taxpayers will see the marriage penalty return;
- Taxpayers with children will lose 50 percent of their child tax credits;
- Taxes on dividends will increase beginning on Jan. 1, 2009;
- Taxes on capital gains will increase, also beginning on Jan. 1, 2009; and
- Federal death taxes will come back to life in 2011, after fading down to nothing in 2010.
Heritage estimated that these tax increases would lead to the loss of “more than one million lost jobs each year between 2011 and 2014; more than $100 billion less in economic output per year; slower wage and salary growth; and slower savings growth.”
So Which Future Will It Be?
The choice presented by the first big truth is very clear and very simple:
If you want to go back to high taxes, high interest rates, high inflation, slower economic growth, more unemployment, fewer savings, shorter vacations and more bureaucracy, then you have a party in the Democrats — because the Democrat record proves that Democratic policies will produce these results.
On the other hand if you want more take-home pay, more jobs, more economic growth, more time with your family and more savings with lower taxes and smaller bureaucracy, then you have a party in the Republicans.
It really is that simple and direct. Republicans just have to focus on, make the case for, and then win the argument with the historic record.
The Second Big Truth: San Francisco, Left-wing Values are Rejected by Most Americans and Should Not be Third in Line to be President
Any conservative who is considering staying home this fall has to consider the consequence of their not voting.
The Democrats are set to put as third in line to be President the most liberal leader they have ever had.
These positions are so unpopular that virtually any Republican candidate, even in a very moderate district, ought to be able to sharply draw the contrast.
If you go back to my newsletter of September 5 on the American Eleven, you will see the kind of solutions that are supported by the vast majority of the American people.
Contrast that newsletter with Nancy Pelosi’s voting record.
Nancy Pelosi legitimately represents the values of her liberal San Francisco district.
They are simply not values most Americans can support or feel comfortable with in the powerful position her party is willing to give her.
America vs. the Pelosi Record at Home
Consider the following votes (all opposed by the vast majority of Americans):
- On July 31, 1996, Pelosi voted against the historic Welfare Reform Bill and later voted against its reauthorization;
- On July 19, 2006, Pelosi voted against protecting the right to say “one nation under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance;
- On Sept. 20, 2006, Pelosi voted against requiring that voters be identified so we could ensure only legal citizens are voting;
- On July 13, 2006, Pelosi voted against requiring English on ballots;
- On June 30, 2005, Pelosi refused to side with homeowners against the Kelo decision that allows cities to seize private property for profitable ventures, even though 365 members voted to stop cities from taking private property.
- Pelosi has voted at least 12 times against the death penalty;
- Pelosi was one of only 67 House members to vote against the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA);
- Pelosi has voted at least eight times against banning partial-birth abortion, at least three times against the Unborn Victims of Violence Act (Laci’s law), and scored a perfect 100 percent rating from NARAL Pro-Choice America;
- Pelosi voted against a bill that would “[b]ar the transportation of a minor girl across state lines to obtain an abortion without the consent of a parent, guardian or judge;”
- Pelosi voted at least 31 times for using local or federal taxpayer dollars to fund abortions; and
- Pelosi received an “F” rating from the National Rifle Association.
The Third Big Truth: Terrorists and Dictators are a Real Threat to Our Lives, Our Country and Our Children, and We Need a Strategy for Securing and Winning. We Cannot Go Back to a Strategy for Appeasing the Losing.
The North Korean nuclear test was a powerful warning about how dangerous the world is becoming.
The United Nations’ speeches of Iran’s Ahmadinejad and Venezuela’s Chavez are reminders of how much they hate us and how much they are determined to defeat us.
The continuing brutality and violence in Iraq is more evidence that we have real enemies who want to kill us.
The London bombing plot to destroy 10 airliners included a husband and wife who the London Telegraph reports “allegedly planned to take their six-month-old baby on a mid-air suicide mission.” Imagine an enemy willing to kill their own six-month-old baby if that would help them kill us (the opposite of the story of King Solomon and the two mothers who argued over the baby and the real mother proved her love by being willing to give up the baby to save its life).
In the face of these dangers and this hatred, the Democrats would make the person third in line to be Commander-in-Chief an authentic representative of the policies of weakness and appeasement, which Ambassador Jeanne Kirkpatrick described in 1984 as “the San Francisco Democrats.” Ironically, this new potential Commander-in-Chief really is a San Francisco Democrat.
America vs. the Pelosi Record Abroad
Consider the following national security votes by a would-be Speaker Nancy Pelosi:
- On Sept. 14, 2006, Pelosi voted against building a fence on the border to protect America from terrorists;
- Before 9/11, Pelosi repeatedly voted to cut intelligence (in 1993 by $500 million) and after 9/11 she has still voted to cut intelligence (in 2004 she voted to withhold 25 percent of intelligence funds);
- When you ask why we were not more prepared for 9/11, remember that six months before Sept. 11, 2001, Pelosi voted to decrease proposed defense spending by $65 billion;
- The next time you think about North Korean nuclear tests and North Korean efforts to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile to reach the United States, remember that in 2002, Pelosi voted for an amendment to the FY 2003 Defense authorization that would block FY 2003 funding for space-based missile defense programs;
- Pelosi led a faction of 124 House Democrats who voted against final passage of the Patriot Act’s reauthorization;
- Pelosi voted against the $87-billion Iraq/Afghanistan supplemental that included extra money for body armor for our soldiers;
- Pelosi voted against creation of Homeland Security Department;
- Pelosi was one of only 33 members to vote against prohibiting U.S. citizens and companies from conducting any financial transaction with countries that have been identified by the State Department as active sponsors of terrorism; and
- In 2004, Pelosi voted against House passage of the intelligence overhaul bill, which reorganized 15 intelligence agencies under one Director of National Intelligence.
Pelosi also supports immediate troop withdrawal from Iraq, saying that “[I] myself support the course of action that Mr. Murtha has put forth.” And let’s be clear about exactly what Mr. Murtha is for: withdrawing from Iraq and leaving it to the terrorists.
The future with Alcee L. Hastings as chairman of the Intelligence Committee based upon the historic record…
If all of this were not extraordinary enough, Nancy Pelosi has made clear her intention, if the Democrats gain the majority, to force ranking Democrat Jane Harman (Calif.) to step down and replace her with Alcee L. Hastings of Florida as the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. Hastings is a former federal judge who was indicted in 1981 for influence peddling, then impeached by a vote of 413-3 in the House and removed from his judgeship by subsequent conviction in the Senate on eight articles of impeachment. Hastings’ conviction was only the sixth time that the Senate has removed a judge from office in an impeachment trial. It is not clear why Pelosi would place her trust in an impeached former judge to lead the oversight of our nation’s intelligence agencies.
Never in American history has a person with such consistent an anti-defense, anti-intelligence and anti-security record been allowed to be third in line to be Commander-in-Chief. Every Democrat running for Congress should be required to defend their decision to vote for a person who believes in such weakness, appeasement and withdrawal policies to run the House.
The Election’s Not Over Until It’s Over
The 2006 elections are a long way from over. Republicans can still make a compelling case for victory.
The San Francisco left is unacceptable to the American people. Their policies are too expensive for our wallets and our family budgets, and too weak to trust in a world of terrorists and dictators who want to kill us.
Republicans owe it to the country to make the next three weeks count. Republicans can win if they have the confidence to know what’s right and to say what’s right. Republicans owe it to the country to make the choice clear.
P.S. — The heart of the next two weeks for Republicans should be focusing on and making the case for the big three truths outlined above. Nonetheless, there will be two topics on which every conservative candidate will have to have an adequate answer. They are the Foley mess and the energy situation. Republicans have two clear answers.
The Foley Mess
Mark Foley resigned from Congress within two hours of a reporter’s showing him his sexually explicit instant messages to a former page.
He had no choice except to resign, because the Republican leadership would have expelled him.
What has amazed me is the one-sided anti-Republican news media smear and lynch mob which then ensued.
After a few days of the one-sided anti-Republican coverage, I began to speak out because I was witness to the last two Democratic efforts to deal with sex scandals in the House — the page scandal of 1983 and the Barney Frank male prostitute/parking ticket fixing scandal of 1990.
In both cases the Democrat Party wanted the mildest possible punishment.
In both cases the Republicans insisted on tougher penalties. The 1983 page case involved one Democrat and one Republican, so it was a bipartisan problem.
At that time, I insisted that the sanction on those congressmen be raised from reprimand (which had no impact on their careers) to censure (which blocked them from a committee or subcommittee chairmanship). I threatened to move expulsion if the penalty was not increased.
Against substantial Democratic opposition, the penalty was increased from reprimand to censure. The Republican was contrite and ashamed. The Democrat was militant and unapologetic.
Even though Gerry Studds (Mass.), the Democrat, was convicted by the Ethics Committee of having sex with one page over a long period of time (beginning when the page was 16) and making advances to two other pages, he received three rounds of applause from the Democratic side of the aisle when he adamantly defended his actions.
After his censure, Nancy Pelosi voted three times to make Gerry Studds chairman of a committee, even though he was convicted of sex with an under-age page. It makes her current promises to be tougher than Republicans dishonest and hypocritical.
The Barney Frank case involved fixing 33 parking tickets for a male prostitute who was running a prostitution ring out of Frank’s apartment (without the congressman’s knowledge, according to his testimony, even though he had fixed 33 tickets for him). The Democrats voted 252-2 against a motion to censure Frank for abusing his office by fixing the tickets for his prostitute roommate.
I offered that motion to censure, and Nancy Pelosi voted against it.
Republicans should be firm about setting a higher standard on protecting pages than the Democrats did. Republicans should be firm about insisting on a higher standard of enforcing the rules than the Democrats did.
Republicans should not passively allow themselves to be lectured by hypocritical Democrats or the news media about their record compared to the Democrats when they were in charge.
An Energy Strategy for National Security, the Economy and the Environment
The American people want a better strategy for energy security.
They understand instinctively that the current reliance on imported oil is bad for our national security, for our environment and for our economy.
Even though gasoline and natural gas prices have gone down dramatically, Americans have a deep sense that something needs to be fixed, and they want more long-term leadership on this issue than they are getting.
Republicans should advocate an energy strategy to include renewable fuels, bio-fuels, new approaches to clean coal, and safe nuclear energy consistent with scientifically sound conservation principles.
All of these approaches are doable in a time of dramatic scientific change. Iowa Congressman Jim Nussle’s IOWA Act (Independence from Oil With Agriculture) would dramatically expand the use of renewable fuels. The American people would rather support America’s farmers than pay dictators in Iran or Venezuela for their fuel.
By contrast, with a Republican desire to pass legislation to improve energy production, energy efficiency, and the use of renewable fuels, Nancy Pelosi voted against the Energy Act of 2005, which moved America in the right direction on these issues.