America loves a great comeback. Stories of redemption and second chances serve as metaphors for the tenacity of the American spirit. The 1980 “Miracle on Ice,” the 2004 victory of the Boston Red Sox in the World Series, the 1997 return of founder Steve Jobs to Apple, and the recent resurgence of 88-year-old actress Betty White’s career; these are uniquely American triumphs that make this country great. There is another comeback story unfolding as we speak: in 2010, the Republican Party has emerged from the wilderness, ready to lead and ready to advance the will of the American people.
The 2006 loss of the Republican majorities in both the House and Senate was a message from the electorate: Republicans in Congress had strayed from their principles and forgotten they were chosen to serve the people. As a candidate for Congress in 2006, I distanced myself from a party that had become synonymous with high-profile ethical lapses and an inability to rein in government spending. I ran on a passion for service to my neighbors and our country, and a promise that I would help change Washington with real world solutions. After suffering further election losses in 2008, the media wrote the obituary for the GOP. Time Magazine asked, “Is the Party Over?” Forbes forecasted “The Dismal Future of the GOP.”
To plagiarize a sentiment from Mark Twain, reports of the party’s death have been greatly exaggerated. In the face of the big government agenda advocated by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President Barack Obama, Republicans rededicated ourselves to the conservative principles that we had once upheld. I think the exact moment we got our mojo back was when we presented a united front against Obama’s failed $862 billion stimulus plan. This was truly a turning point that energized millions of Americans.
Something happened across America: people awoke to a changing America they did not recognize and began to demand accountability from those elected to represent them in government. They wanted a government that was limited in its reach and effective in its operation, a description the current federal bureaucracy didn’t even begin to resemble. People began to read the Constitution and realized that the current Democratic leadership in Washington had strayed very far from the intent of our country’s founders.
Despite this growing sentiment, Speaker Pelosi and President Obama worked furiously to make the liberal establishment’s dreams of the last 40 years become a reality. After the stimulus package passed, Pelosi twisted the arms of her more moderate Democratic House Members in order to pass a cap-and-trade energy bill that was ultimately dubbed “too toxic” for the Senate to even touch. Echoing the cries of the American public, Republican Leader John Boehner took to the floor in opposition to the bill, giving a resounding “Hell no!” that went viral on the internet and earned cheers from people across the country. Not heeding the warning given by their constituents over the cap-and-trade energy bill, the Democrats embarked on the most ambitious part of their agenda yet: a massive government takeover of health care.
At this point, it was becoming obvious to me that Americans were in the mood for a change, and then it really hit: in August of 2009, during Congress’ district work period, Americans were standing up at townhalls with their Members of Congress and pleading with them not to support the health care bill.
At the same time, I was traveling to help find the next crop of GOP leaders to run for Congress in 2010.
What I discovered was amazing. All across the country, in the more than 50 districts I have visited that August and over the past year, people are eager to make a change in Washington. These include individuals who had previously had little interest in running for Congress, but felt compelled to consider it because of the extreme agenda being advanced by the Democrats in Washington. State representatives like Cory Gardner, community leaders like Martha Roby and concerned farmers like Stephen Fincher all told me they had watched this country change in ways they had never dreamed, and they were determined to step up and fight against the status quo in Washington.
The Republican victories in Virginia, New Jersey and Massachusetts rattled the Democrats and emboldened Republicans further. The American people had sent a clear message that the era of big government was over, and the Republican Party had demonstrated that we were committed to listening. Republican members of Congress were fighting the expansion of government at every turn and voting according to our principles, even when it was not the politically expedient thing to do. Many of our members were influential in developing Republican alternatives to the Obama agenda, defying the Democrat’s charge that we are the party of “no.”
While Democrats have actively ignored the cries of their constituents, Republican Members have been listening and crafting smarter government policies that, like the voices of the American people, are disregarded by the Democratic majority in Washington. As we've heard over and over from countless Americans, enough is enough. As a result, Republicans have unveiled "A Pledge to America" - a formal agenda of items that Congress should consider now. This agenda reflects our ideals and the continuing conversation we are having with the American people about restoring government to its Constitutional foundation.
This fall, we will witness a comeback; not just of the Republican Party, but of the principles Americans hold so dear. No longer will government exist merely to perpetuate itself or to use the American people as pawns in a nonstop political game. We can stop the out of control spending, enable businesses to create jobs, turn the state of the economy around and have a government that is accountable to the public. With the help of the American people, Republicans are ready to lead again, and this time, we will not let America down.