Don’t look now, but November 7th is approaching fast. For Democrats it can’t come soon enough; they’ve got the lead and merely want to run out the clock before clinching victory. For Republicans it’s more complicated; they’re behind and need to engineer a dramatic comeback in order to save one or both houses of Congress. How did we get here? Well, barely two years removed from earning a mandate from voters in 2004, the Republican Party has squandered its political capital by overseeing record (and reckless) levels of federal spending, by engaging in—or being associated with—unethical behavior, and by failing to achieve a signature legislative victory, such as overhauling Social Security. This veritable witch’s brew of mishaps and failures got us to the point where, in late October, we’re fighting an uphill battle to maintain Republican majorities.
Earlier this year I tried to sound the alarm on this crisis in my book Getting America Right. Indeed, my co-author Ed Feulner and I urged congressional Republicans to get their act together by adopting a culture of responsibility that properly provided for our security and prosperity. We both gave speeches around the country asking the conservative base to sound the alarm as well—and you all responded with vigor. I’m confident that our criticisms and calls to action will ultimately help Republicans return to their conservative roots.
But the time for intra-party criticism has passed. Now it’s time to close ranks and work hard for the next few weeks to do all that we can to retain control of both houses of Congress. Unfortunately there are many Republican voters who fail to see the merits of such a decision. Instead, they think like a friend of mine—a long time GOP leader who served in the Nixon White House—who says he hopes the Republicans lose both the House and the Senate. Why? “To teach them a lesson,” he says.
Republicans need to learn some lessons—I agree. But let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water. We must set aside our anger and frustration and support Republican candidates across our nation. Why the switch from critic to supporter? Because the alternative is much worse. For example, Nancy Pelosi, the would-be Democrat majority leader, is no friend of the taxpayer. In fact, she has voted 19 times against eliminating the death tax. She also voted against the historic welfare reform bill of 1996; against protecting the right to say “one nation under God,” in the Pledge of Allegiance; against banning partial-birth abortions; and against requiring voter identification at polling stations so that we can ensure that only legal citizens cast votes.
Is this the kind of leader you want in Congress just so Republicans will “learn a lesson”? It’s almost like sending your child to his room for two years because he didn’t eat his vegetables. In parenting, like politics, the goal should always be to punish—and teach—but not to ruin. And when you think about some of the progress we’ve made as a country since 1994—well, let’s just say we can’t afford to ruin it.
So here’s my challenge to you: Get active. Get involved. As citizens we must choose to be involved, even if we aren’t entirely happy with the way things are in Washington. And being involved is a lot more than reading articles on Townhall or talking about your ideas with friends. Being involved is giving your time to reach the people who might be on the fence or just need a nudge to make a difference. No matter your position, an army of volunteers from all walks of life will win elections.
Consider this: A friend of mine who runs a large political action committee (PAC) in California was comparing how his PAC works with how another Republican PAC in the same county operates. My friend’s PAC is made up of mostly middle class Americans who give small amounts of money but believe passionately in their ideas. The other PAC is composed of rich executives who are content to merely write checks. My friend believes that the passion and commitment of his middle-class supporters far outweighs the impact of a handful of fat cats writing checks.
There are many ways to help. For example, I’m planning to work a phone bank. If you have not done this, give it a try. It’s simple: call your local party office (which you can find with a simple Google search) and ask them how you can help get out the vote. They will gladly plug you into very needed help.
Tim Russert, from Meet the Press, said that the winner in this November election will not be the group with the most money but the group with the most volunteers. We learned this lesson in 2004, as an army of Bush-Cheney volunteers outperformed the mostly paid staff of the Kerry-Edwards campaign and led the GOP to victory. We need to show the same enthusiasm during these final days of the 2006 campaign. So please, set aside your just grievances for a bit and take two actions – volunteer and vote. If you don’t, we might all live to experience what it’s like to be sent to our room for two years with no way out.