These are not easy times in which to be a Republican; it’s impossible not to be disheartened by a lot of what’s coming out of Washington.
Just this past week:
- Republicans in the House of Representatives failed to vote on a budget because Jerry Lewis and other Republicans on the Appropriations Committee objected to measures that would have controlled spending.
- All but 18 House Republicans voted against the First Amendment and in support of a bill to regulate 527s (themselves a creature of the free speech-unfriendly McCain-Feingold campaign finance law).
- Republicans in the Senate were unable to vote on an immigration bill, after a much-touted "bipartisan compromise" contained virtually no meaningful measures for securing the border.
- Because of a personal feud with House Ways and Means Chairman Bill Thomas, Senator Charles Grassley has reportedly refused to sign off on a compromise that would have extended tax relief on dividends and capital gains.
- Bush judicial nominees languish.
- The mainstream media tried once again to create a scandal when it was reported that the President had authorized the dissemination of previously classified material in order to rebut Joe Wilson’s lies about the reasons America went to war in Iraq.
Now, polls increasingly indicate that the Republican congressional majority may well be at risk come November. It’s not because the Democrats have done anything too well — they haven’t. They’ve no plan for victory in Iraq; their recently issued "national security strategy" consists in the long-standing and completely unoriginal proposition that the United States should "get bin Laden." They’re clearly unserious about protecting the country.
No, the Republican majority is at risk largely because of the inaction of Republicans themselves. If the Democrats win, it will be because Republicans have succeeded in disgusting their own adherents into staying home.
Some suggest that it will be sufficient to frighten the base by alluding to the possibility of a Speaker Pelosi, a Majority Leader Reid and the specter of impeachment issuing from the House of Representatives. And although it’s necessary to remind Americans of what a Democratic Congress would both look and act like, it’s certainly not sufficient.
Republicans need to get it together, and show that they remember why they were sent to Washington:
- Continue to support the President on the war — and vote on measures that highlight Democratic weakness on national defense.
- Pass immigration reform that emphasizes security — and links normalization of illegals living here to reductions in the number of new illegals entering the country.
- Move President Bush’s judicial nominees through the Senate Judiciary Committee and onto the floor.
- Demonstrate seriousness about reducing the size, scope and prerogatives of government, through voting for spending reductions.
- Emphasize the ideological differences between the parties by pushing more of the tax cuts that are responsible for the strong economy.
Whatever they do, Republicans need to show that they are more than pampered creatures who have been seduced by Beltway entitlements. Even if they are not entirely successful in passing an agenda consistent with their constituents’ wishes, that effort would count for something. Heaven knows what they’re doing at present counts for absolutely nothing.
The bright side is that Beltway Republicans have seven months to prove to Americans that they deserve to keep their jobs. The way things look now, they’ll need every minute.
This article first appeared at theOneRepublic.com.