The following a letter Rep. John Boehner (R.-Ohio) sent to his Republican colleagues on Sunday, announcing his run for the job of House majority leader.
"I’m writing to seek your support for the opportunity to help lead our Conference as Majority Leader. I’m seeking your support because we need a Conference with the courage and confidence to tackle our nation’s problems.
"I want to start a conversation within our Conference — a conversation about renewal. Renewal in spirit, renewal in principles, renewal in commitment.
"We are inherently a party that believes far more in our constituents outside the Beltway than in the institutions within the Beltway. The vision that brought us to majority control of the House reflected that: a vision of smaller, more accountable government and of a society deeply rooted in principles of personal responsibility, faith in the future, and freedom. That’s the vision that inspired me to enter public life, and I think it’s pretty consistent with what motivates a vast majority of our Conference, and our party as well.
"But it’s a vision that requires faith and profound commitment, particularly when those who believe in it are in control of Congress. It’s easy to keep in your mind and heart when you’re in the minority. When I was a freshman serving in a Democrat-controlled Congress, it was relatively easy to expose corruption in the House bank; or as a sophomore, to help dismantle Hillary Clinton’s health care plan. Operating behind the enemy lines of the Beltway was easy, because the traditional forces driving Washington weren’t paying attention and we had no real chance for driving a legislative agenda.
"Governing in a manner consistent without our fundamental vision, on the other hand, is hard. It’s hard because Official Washington is driven by an innate suspicion of what a free American people can really achieve. And it’s hard because there’s a cynical refusal to acknowledge the seriousness of the problems we need to solve if our children are to enjoy the kind of bright, promising future we owe them. Moving forward with a vision that represents freedom and responsibility while the forces of Washington’s status quo push for control and denial isn’t just hard; it’s exhausting.
"So I think we need to engage in a bit of renewal, as a Conference. This isn’t easy, either. After I lost a leadership race in 1998, I had to renew myself — confirm whether the principles that led me to Congress were still relevant, whether the substantive goals I’d wanted to accomplish were still feasible, and — above all — whether I was willing to make the necessary commitment.
"And I did. I sought the counsel of my closest friends and allies, gathered my team, made my commitment, and immersed myself in the day-in, day-out work of my committees. I did what I could to help my colleagues and help the Conference. And two years later, the Republican Conference rewarded me with the chairman’s gavel of the Education & the Workforce Committee.
"As Chairman, I got a chance to apply some lessons and learn some more. I learned that without a clear and thoughtful strategy, the only consequence of hurling a lot of bodies at a difficult goal will be heavy casualties. I learned that we truly are strongest when we work as hard at being a team as we do reaching our policy goals. I learned that if your vision is bold and compelling, and you advance it with confidence, you’ll always win the fights that really count. Above all else, I learned leadership isn’t just about talking, it’s about listening, and then applying what you hear toward a common goal.
"These strike me as useful lessons for the present time. We’ve had a tough run recently, some of it of our own making. We’re concerned about the future of our majority. But I also believe that if we are able to renew our energy and our commitment to our basic principles, the best is yet to come.
"I’d like to help drive that renewal as your Majority Leader.
"Renewal does not mean neglecting short-term needs. We absolutely need to make sure we are in the best tactical position possible to win in November — that’s a given. But I would argue that this starts with agreeing on a common vision, identifying an agenda that reflects that vision, and working together in a concrete, confident manner to achieve it. If we show voters what we believe in and provide them with policies based on those beliefs, I’m convinced we’ll prevail.
"What else does renewal entail? Most importantly, it means acting and thinking with the confidence we owe our constituents and our country — a confidence to think boldly, to be candid about challenges we face, and to undertake all the work necessary to achieve our goals. If we work together, with candor, dedication, and imagination, there truly is no limit to what we can achieve.
"I look forward with talking with you personally in the next few days about this important subject. I hope that you share my optimism, and that you’ll support my candidacy."
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