The elections of 2004 will certainly be important for conservatives considering that President Bush (whose policies are not always thought of as the most conservative – see the Farm Bill and the Education Bill) will be up against a liberal Democrat in the battle for the White House. The winner of the election will certainly set the direction of the country over the ensuing four years.
What makes the 2004 election even more significant is that in order for a conservative agenda to begin to be accomplished, the country needs more than just a conservative President. There must also be a conservative Congress – and the fight for the control of the legislature will likely be a bloody one.
If the past year has taught the Right anything, it is that the ability to lead effectively in Congress requires a significant majority of lawmakers willing to follow a conservative leader. For Republicans, that means electing more Republicans. (Of course, if they’re not going to vote like conservatives – think Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R.I.) – then the majority doesn’t mean a whole lot.)
The GOP’s slim majority in the Senate makes the importance of 2004 evident.
Consider just a few examples:
- Democratic Filibuster: The Class Action Fairness Act (S 1751) – A bill that will “create a consumer bill of rights that mandates better information about the rights of class members and impose stricter scrutiny of proposed settlements” and will “correct a loophole in the federal diversity jurisdiction rules to ensure that federal courts, rather than state courts, hear lawsuits that are truly national or interstate in scope.” (Source: Senate Republican Policy Committee “Legislative Notice”)
- Democratic Filibuster: The Energy Policy Act (S 14) – The filibuster kept the GOP from implementing some of the energy priorities of the Bush White House and led to the substitution of the Republican bill with the Democrats’ energy bill that passed last year.
- Democratic Filibuster: The Patients First Act (S 11) – The bill which would have limited non-economic damages in order to help hold back medical liability premium increases was left on its deathbed.
- Democratic Filibuster: Nomination of Miguel Estrada to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals – He eventually had had enough and asked that his nomination be withdrawn.
- Democratic Filibuster: Nomination of Priscilla Owen to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals
- Democratic Filibuster: Nomination of William Pryor to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals
- Likely Democratic Filibuster: Nomination of Charles Pickering to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals
- Likely Democratic Filibuster: Nomination of Carolyn Kuhl to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals
- Likely Democratic Filibuster: Nomination of Janice Rogers Brown to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals
- Likely Democratic Filibuster: Nomination of Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt to be the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency
How can the many Democratic filibusters be broken?
Here are two important steps that must be taken: 1) Republican Senators must have the courage to make the Democrats actually filibuster – come to the Senate floor and debate; 2) More conservatives must be elected who are willing to enact the conservative parts of the GOP agenda and confirm the important nominations of President Bush.