I’ll be the first to admit it: The Republican Party took a beating this election cycle. However, the initial news accounts and analysis of this election got it all wrong.
By and large the pundits have portrayed this as a “repudiation” or “rejection” of Republican and conservative principles. On the contrary, this election reflected the American public’s thirst for the very tenets that brought Republicans to the majority for the first time in 40 years.
All across the country, Republicans and Democrats alike campaigned — and won — by focusing on voters’ desire for smaller, more accountable government; fiscal responsibility; and strong national security. In order to win, Democrat candidates had to run away from the weak, big government, tax-and-spend policies of the liberal Democrat establishment.
Our defeated members know this better than anyone. After discussing the election with many of them and hearing their thoughts on where to go next, I’m more convinced than ever that we need to start by rebuilding the Republican brand.
To regain our majority in 2008, House Republicans need to get back to our core principles and rededicate ourselves to the reform mindset that put us in the majority 12 years ago. We must rebuild the Republican coalition by focusing on reform ideas because they will not only win broad-based support among House members, but among the American people. As Republican leader, I pledge to help make that happen.
It’s something you’ve heard me say time and time again: Good policy equals good politics. As Republican leader, I will manage policy development to contrast our philosophy of limited government and personal responsibility with that of the big-spending, tax-raising House Democrats.
In 1994, we had a full arsenal of compelling legislative ideas on a wide range of issues to rebut a liberal Democrat agenda. That arsenal needs replenishment. Together, we’ll produce a next generation of great Republican ideas while always adhering to our core principles: a smaller, smarter, less-intrusive federal government. We’ll draw on the talents of every member, and look to the outside for solutions that will capture the nation’s attention.
As we did in 2006, we will win the debate on the floor. And while we’ll lose more votes than we win, we will endeavor each and every day to win the news.
We’ll aggressively sell these solutions inside and outside the Beltway, using traditional and new media, and our network of friends and allies throughout the country. This will be hard work — no one leader can do this — but working together as a team, we can get it done.
The Republican leader also must fight for fairness for all Republican members, in committee assignments, resources and process.
The leader must look in every corner of every Democrat-held district to help recruit candidates to win back the majority, and to ensure our candidates have the resources they’ll need to compete and win.
My collective experiences in the House — as a minority backbencher; as a coauthor of the Contract with America; as House Republican Conference chairman; as chairman of a committee; and as House majority leader — have given me the perspective and experience our Conference needs to lead this effort.
Let me tell you: I’ve been in the minority before. I have no interest in staying in the minority, and I want to lead our efforts to earn our way back to the majority. I’ve promised reform in the past and I’ve helped deliver results. I know what it takes to win and I’m committed to making it happen again. If House Republicans honor me with their vote, I will help lead the way.
First appeared in The Hill.