Congressman Steve Pearce of New Mexico is ready to take his brand of conservative leadership to the US Senate in his quest to take the mantle from Pete Domenici who announced his retirement from the Senate last year. In an election season where “conservatism” is being declared DOA by both sides of the political aisle Pearce’s candidacy reminds us of Mark Twain’s witticism “reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.” He presents a refreshingly unapologetic conservative approach to the challenges ahead.
In a time when many conservatives feel anchorless and adrift in a Washington power struggle (and when some fear that a McCain presidency will ignore them), consolation can be found in the hands of a few good men and women running for the House and Senate. Steve Pearce is a powerful reminder that we still have a place at the table, we still have a voice.
Q: You have been to Iraq four times in the last few years. What are your impressions?
A: One of the most consistent things I have heard from the men and women in Iraq is “How come my parents don’t see the good things that I am doing here?” This is a valid question and concern. The surge is having a positive effect. Good things are happening. Unfortunately, bad news sells. Much of the media, and indeed the left in this country, is biased against the war and seem to be making a calculated effort to turn the country against the war, much as they did during Vietnam. There is a pervasive prejudice against the concept of American Exceptionalism. These folks want us to turn our back on the concept that we are an exceptional and inspirational nation, and would prefer to relegate us to just another vote in the United Nations. I do not concur with that view of the United States. I think we are an exceptional nation and it is imperative that we continue to protect our way of life and our important position in the international community.
Q: What do you say to those who are hailing the death of conservatism?
A: I am excited about conservative values and I believe they are just as important and critical today as any point in the movement. The real issue that we face is not the death of conservatism but the feeling that there is a lack of truth in our political process. We certainly talk about it. In economic terms we talk of transparency. In religious terms we talk of the importance of honesty.
The American people, regardless of their political affiliations, are hungry for truth. They are hungry for transparency and honest dialogue even if it is uncomfortable. If Social Security is broken, which it is, then I think the American people want to know that. They want to know what they options are, they do not simply want empty platitudes and a short-term feel good moment. They know that our bureaucracy is broken. They know that our government’s ability to tackle challenges lags far behind the business world. We, as a government, need to be responsive and modern. We need to approach our challenges with the same sense of ownership and accountability that successful corporate leaders are expected to produce by their shareholders.
I have done countless town halls and radio shows where I have invited constituents to ask any question they want. I take every question straight up and answer it. I do not want to placate the voters with easy answers that they know ring hollow. I have too much respect and confidence in the American people for that. Sometimes the truth is hard and uncomfortable. Sometimes if forces us to confront the hard choices that we will have to make. But at least with the truth, we know that we can mover forward and thrive. At the end of all of these venues, be it town hall or radio show, callers consistently tell me how much they appreciate that I did not dodge one single question. It is not always politically expedinte to be the bearer of bad news, but I owe the truth to the American people and I am confident that that is what they want.
Q: And to conservatives looking for things to engage them in the coming months leading up to the 2008 elections?
A: I think that Senator McCain has to address the conservative base. We should all be cognizant that conservatives are volunteer voters. Democrats are professional voters, they actively seek a piece of the pie with their votes, conservatives seek to affect the timber and tone of the political debate.
Conservatives can look to many important races throughout the country to be excited about. They have many opportunities to make sure that their voice is heard in Washington and that their beliefs are being championed. I took the tax pledge when I first came to Congress and I have met that promise 100% of the time. I vowed to vote pro-life and have done so 100% of the time. The Club for growth has given me a 82% rating, my opponent Heather Wilson and scored 10% respectively. Conservatives who want to see their issues championed need to make sure that we do not lose more footing in the House or Senate. These races matter. Can you imagine a Senate with a 60 Democratic majority?
That is something many conservatives would rather not imagine.