But it is more than the newly elected freshmen who are on the line. Who can have gone through 2010 and watched the defeats of Rep. Mike Castle, Gov. Charlie Crist, Sen. Bob Bennett, Secretary of State Trey Grayson and so may other Republican luminaries without understanding that the wrath of the reformers and the torments of the tea party activists will be visited upon anyone who fails to live up to the promise of reform.
Even long-term incumbents in the House and Senate face the serious threat of primary challenges if there is no ban on earmarking this year. The issue is important enough and memories long enough that a wrong vote could be a primary-triggering offense.
These political facts of life make it even worse that the votes are secret in the Republican Senate Caucus. I plan to write each Republican senator and ask how he or she voted on the earmark ban. I will publish the results in this space and will encourage others such as NewsMax, Town Hall and the tea party to send the answers to their readers.
Those who voted for the ban will be able to bask in the credit. Those who have the courage to admit that they did not will face the consequences. And those who lack the courage to reply will justifiably face the skepticism of their voters. Why, they will be asked, are we not permitted to know how you -- who we elected -- voted?