“No one remembered being disappointed by a Republican majority.”—Dick Army, founder of Freedomworks and majority leader of the House during the Republican Revolution, on the difference between 1994 and 2010.
I recently talked to two lions of the 1994 Republican Revolution. Newt Gingrich was a Georgia Republican in the minority who cut his political teeth during the Reagan years of the 1980s and spearheaded the 1994 Contract with America. Dick Armey was another key player in initiating the Contract. Both of these men were academics, but they were different than the academics found in the Obama administration. They were “free-market” academics.
With talk of a new Republican Revolution in 2010, it is time to take a look at then and now. Dick Armey never really left activism after he left the Congress and is currently the chairman of Freedomworks, a political organization with the motto “lower taxes, less government, more freedom.” Freedomworks helped organize the 9/12 March on Washington in 2009 in opposition to Obamacare and has been very involved in the Tea Party movement.
I asked him what was different about 1994 Republican Revolution and what we need to do today. He said, “It has the potential to be the kind of takeover we had in 1994 if Republicans can convince the independent voters.” This year, independent voters are in favor of small government, lower taxes and more freedom and are in tune with the Tea Party movement. With an estimated 18% of voters identifying themselves as “Tea Party” people, that is enough, if motivated to vote, to sway an election.
“Democrats were bad in 1994, but not as bad as this group. No one remembered being disappointed by a Republican majority [in 1994],” Armey said. “It doesn’t do us any good to have a guy who is with us on the issues but is lazy. We are not enamored with lazy office holders.”
Freedomworks has gotten involved in a handful of elections for 2010. They are supporting Tom Graves in Georgia for the 9th District House Special Election to fill the seat vacated by Rep. Nathan Deal to run for governor. In addition, they have supported Marco Rubio in his bid to become Florida’s new U.S. senator and a few others.
Newt Gingrich has a new book out, To Save America. He outlines the path away from the secular Socialist regime of Obama. Some say he’s too harsh on the new President, but he doesn’t see it that way. He’s also entertaining running for President in 2012. But that decision will have to wait as all the focus is on 2010 and winning those elections.
He points out that while the economy wasn’t that great in 1994, there is no comparison to the economic problems we are facing now. The fear of a weak recovery with no depth lays the ground work for a double-dip recession worse than we have seen up until now.
“Europe is going to make it harder for us to rebound,” Gingrich said on Tuesday. He contends we are in a false recovery based on several trillion dollars of borrowed money. Gingrich likens it to taking a performance-enhancing drug. It works great in the beginning but you have to take more and more to get the desired result and when you stop taking it, you are worse off than you were before.
As we look to 2010, Gingrich says we need a new approach and “these guys are not the answer.” We have to have a platform, a new contract, if you will, of lower spending, cutting taxes and American energy policy that creates American jobs. However, this inefficient government has to understand it is imperative government does well the things government should do. Gingrich points to controlling the border and the current crisis in the Gulf as two examples of failures in what government should do.
“We are not controlling the border,” Gingrich said. On the Gulf oil spill, Gingrich believes the government has been doubly incompetent. “It’s been 41 years since Santa Barbara oil spill and the Coast Guard and others have no better tactics in place today,” Gingrich said. “This administration is more derelict than the Bush Administration was. Louisiana has been treated worse than any other state.”
According to Gingrich, this is the “high-water” mark of the New Left. The left is so arrogant, beginning at the top, that when the Town Hall meetings on healthcare got too hot last August, they stopped having them. They lost a referendum on Obamacare in Massachusetts with the election of Scott Brown but they rammed the legislation through anyway. The disaster of Obamacare is real. According to Gingrich there will be cost overruns, too much complexity and it will make unemployment worse. More and more Americans want to repeal the bill, but how do they do it with a Congress that doesn’t believe in the average American or American exceptionalism. We are the “little people” and they (the Congress) think they know what’s best for us.
Gingrich believes 2010 could shape up to be the kind of victory Republicans had in 1994, but he believes, as Armey does, the stakes are much higher.
Gingrich says we’ve got to learn the language of the new Left so we can understand what is wrong with the other side. Then, there has to be conversation among the American people and we need to get the message out that this is a “secular Socialist machine.”
“The clearer the country is about it, the less likely it is to survive,” Gingrich pointed out, “This machine is not an accident.”
He said something that might be considered shocking in Republican circles, but we’ve come to expect that from Gingrich. He said we have to elect and run candidates, but also, we have to understand that in races where Republicans can’t compete, we have to be willing to run candidates in the Democratic primaries. We have to look at every seat as a possible win and engage the American people in dialog.
I liken it to a religious testimony. In the South and in other parts of the country, you might have someone come up and say, “Let me tell you about Jesus.” In this battle for the soul of our nation, we need to use the same tactic saying, “Let me tell you about America and our founding principles and conservatism.”
It is just that kind of battle, whether it is 1994 or 2010; it is a battle for the soul of our nation. Are you ready for the Fall?