In Frank Capra’s oft-watched movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” the character George Bailey is given a chance to see what his hometown would be like had he never lived. He quickly learns it’s an ugly place.
Lucky for Bailey, the transformation of his fictional town was just a trick played on him by an angel.
Conservatives cannot count on a similar twist in this year’s elections, which will take place in the real world. If they succumb to the temptation to write off the Republican Congress, sitting on their hands this November, forsaking the opportunity to contribute to and work for Republican campaigns, or neglecting to go out and vote on election day, they could come out of their stupor next year to discover that Capitol Hill, without a Republican majority, has become a land of nightmares.
For starters, the wildly left-wing Rep. John Conyers (D.-Mich.) would replace the solidly conservative Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R.-Wis.) as chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. Sensenbrenner deserves credit for his diligent work to protect our homeland. Not only did he secure renewal of the Patriot Act over Democratic objections and a howling liberal press, but he also won passage of a tough border security and immigration enforcement bill that would crack down on scofflaw employers of illegal aliens while building 700 miles of wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
It is not Sensenbrenner’s fault, or the fault of House Republicans who rallied behind him, that President Bush and leading members of the Republican Senate—including presidential hopeful John McCain (R.-Ariz.) and Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter (R.-Pa.)—won’t agree to the Republican House’s border-security measures unless they get an illegal-alien amnesty, too.
But if conservatives turn their back on the Republican Congress over immigration, the hottest debates next January won’t be over how to secure our border, they will be over how far Judiciary Chairman Conyers can get with his impeachment inquiry. Conyers has already introduced a resolution calling for such an inquiry and his staff has already published a bogus report about Bush’s “impeachable” offenses.
Look in any direction on Capitol Hill, and you will see that House Republicans have made real efforts to advance a conservative agenda, and that any chance of actually achieving that agenda will vanish if Democrats take over.
As Human Events has frequently noted, one egregious failure of Republican government during the Bush years has been massive increases in spending. But last year, House conservatives in the Republican Study Committee led by Human Events Man of the Year Mike Pence (Ind.), began to turn the tide. After Bush promised to spend the moon and the stars on Hurricane Katrina relief, Pence and the RSC conservatives forced the congressional leadership and the President to accept spending cuts—including cuts in entitlement spending—to offset some of the new spending. If Republicans retain their majority, the RSC conservatives are on a political trajectory to become the new leaders of the legislative branch. But not if Democrats take over.
Besides, President Bush’s worst spending bills—the No Child Left Behind Act and the Medicare Prescription drug bill—were enacted only after Bush fought for them against congressional conservatives. In his final two years, a lame-duck Bush will not have the power to push around a Republican majority in which conservatives are ascendant. But a Democratic majority may win all sorts of new spending measures from a weakened President who never vetoed a bill even at the height of his power.
As a Democratic majority is enacting those new spending measures, it would also raise the income taxes of every American who pays taxes. They would not even have to vote for a tax increase. All they would need to do is let the Bush tax cuts expire as they are scheduled to do under law.
The Republican House, by contrast, has done a great job on taxes. Not only did it enact the Bush tax cuts in the first place, but it has voted in this Congress to finally kill the death tax. If the Republican House majority gets the chance, it will make all the Bush tax cuts permanent.
The House majority has also done excellent work advancing cultural and social issues and respecting the original meaning of the Constitution. The Republican House twice voted to ban all human cloning. Although the House does not have a say in the confirmation of judges, the Constitution does give Congress the authority to restrict the appellate jurisdiction of the federal courts, and the Republican House tried to use that power by passing bills to prevent federal courts from hearing cases challenging the constitutionality of the Pledge of Allegiance and the Defense of Marriage Act. Again, it was the Senate that failed to ban cloning and failed to restrict the federal courts where they should have been restricted.
The Republican House is not perfect. But it is a far better House than the one the Democrats ran for much of the last century. If it can get a more conservative Senate and White House to work with, history could look back on this House majority as the one that finally set the stage for a true conservative counter-revolution in U.S. government.
Conservatives can work for that in 2008 and beyond—as long as they don’t throw it away in 2006.