Last week hyper-partisan Senator Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) told reporters that “we’re about at the tail end of the Ronald Reagan era, where his ideas — fresh and, even as a Democrat, I’d say, many of them needed at the time — have just lost steam, lost resonance.” We beg to differ. And so do the members of the new “Reagan21” caucus. The idea behind Reagan21 is to invigorate the Republican Party by restoring “integrity and optimism” and “ignite a 21st century Reagan revolution.”
HUMAN EVENTS spoke with Sens. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), as well as Congressmen Tom Price (R-Ga.) , Jeb Hensarling (R-Tex) and John Campbell (R-Calif.) about the anticipated details of the newly unveiled and promising bicameral caucus — Reagan21.
Perhaps the most pressing issue and the one that Reagan21 aims to tackle first is the earmark battle that continues to destroy Americans’ confidence in Congress. “We wanted to start Reagan21 recruitment as we went into the end of the year, and we really wanted to raise the temperature of the earmark fight as these big omnibuses come out,” said Sen. DeMint “and we are going to keep embarrassing members until they recognize this is why we don’t have any credibility as a congress.”
Reagan21 is calling itself a “new conservative governing philosophy" and a membership requirement for the caucus is that officials not offer or request anymore earmarks.
“For years both parties have been saying one thing and doing another and the integrity idea in Reagan21 is that we are not just going to say we are going to do it — we are going to sign a commitment that says if we don’t it — we are going to get thrown out of Reagan21,” said DeMint.
But what makes Reagan21 different than the Republican Study or Steering Committees? Should Republicans be careful not pull their focus in to many directions? Reagan21’s most unique difference is that it’s bicameral — members from both houses of Congress — and the caucus also hopes to extend it’s reach outside of the beltway to grassroots action as well.
“It is different because the Republican Study Committee is only made up of only members of the House. The vision of Reagan21 is that this it’s going to belong to America — we hope that this will be a grassroots, citizen action oriented group that will have a component of it composed of House and Senate members,” Study Committee chairman Jeb Hensarling told HUMAN EVENTS. “My hope is that as time goes by every member of the RSC and the Steering Committee would want to be a part of this effort.”
Sen. DeMint reminded that you can join the RSC or come to the Steering lunch and not commit to anything.
Regarding possible Congressional attention deficit disorders — “I think there are so many different armies in the battle if you will, that need to be signed up. This is just another front. This is not to supplant anything or take away from anything. As a member of the RSC there is certainly room in the Republican horizon for both and the more people we can invigorant to appreciate that the goals and ideas of integrity are alive and well — well then that’s all for the good,” said Rep.Campbell.
Founding members of Reagan21 all expressed their concern that Republicans had given up on their party’s message. “As people look in across the country they really can’t see what we stand for we frankly want to create a little peer pressure and push people into making a stronger commitment to the principals that guide good policy and focus on the concepts of freedom for everyone,” said DeMint.
“One of the things that everyone remembers fondly about Ronald Reagan — even people that didn’t agree with his policies — was that the guy believed in American spirit and the American dream and so much of what we are hearing today in political discourse is negative and that’s from both sides. We can’t deal with health care, spending, etc. We look at all these things opportunities rather than problems,” Rep. Price told HUMAN EVENTS.
“This is a message that resonates whether you’re a liberal or a conservative, Democrat or Republican people want us to get back to what the government should be doing and not running for the next election,” said Sen. Tom Coburn.
HUMAN EVENTS is foursquare behind Reagan21 group’s goals and will continue to follow their progress toward them. One step that’s necessary is a good website. “The website is up but it’s not real functional yet,” Sen. Coburn told HUMAN EVENTS “but the principals are up and next week the background papers for our positions will be on there,” (www.Reagan21.org.) “In couple weeks you can sign up and get regular emails from the site about what’s happening in congress, why we are doing it and who the members are.”
Republicans want their brand back — Reagan Republicanism is alive and well Sen. Schumer and the Reagan21 caucus will prove it. “This caucus is a rare caucus — if you don’t go with us — youre no longer a member of the caucus. We aren’t playing a game … we really believe in the principals we set out and we really intend to grow Reagan 21 and we will,” said Coburn.