Today’s featured article on OpinionJournal, while highlighting the Abramoff ugliness, shows why many conservatives, this one included, are relatively unhappy with the Republicans in Congress:
The party that swept to power on term limits, spending restraint and reform has become the party of incumbency, 6,371 highway-bill “earmarks,” and K Street. And it’s no defense to say that Democrats would do the same. Of course Democrats would, but then they’ve always claimed to be the party of government. If that’s what voters want, they’ll choose the real thing.
Republicans won’t escape voter anger by writing new rules but only by returning to their self-professed principles. Gradually since 1994 they’ve decided they want to reform and limit government less than they want to use government to entrench their own power, and in the case of the Abramoffs to get rich doing so. If Speaker Dennis Hastert, interim Majority Leader Roy Blunt and other GOP leaders are too insulated to realize this, then Republicans need new leaders, and right away.
What’s the adage, “Lead or get out of the way”? That’s what the Republican congressional leadership needs to do. Show some backbone and lead, or let a willing someone step up and take over. There should be no more talk of DeLay returning to the Majority Leader position. Even if Mr. DeLay is found to be completely innocent (and in the case of the Texas charges, I believe he is), he has been tainted by allowing himself to be put in that position in the first place. Mr. Blunt or another Republican congressman needs to be named the new Majority Leader, so the floundering of the party can be put to a stop.
The Republican Party, lead by Reagan, and then briefly from ’94-98 by Gingrich, was the party of smaller government. This message resonated with the American people, and this put and kept the Republicans in power so long as they abided by that message. If Republicans are so interested in remaining in power, as the OpinionJournal piece opines, perhaps they should look to their recent past.