There's a lot of talk these days about Democrats regaining control of Congress in the upcoming elections. Polls are showing as much dissatisfaction with Republicans as they showed toward the Democrats when Republicans gained control in 1994.
But there's a big difference between today's reality and the reality of 1994. And Republicans should note this.
The Contract With America that Republicans ran on in 1994 was more than a slick election gimmick. It set forth a clear vision about where the country needed to go and said that the Republican Party was prepared to be defined by this vision.
I remember those days well because it marked the beginning of my getting active on the national scene as a consultant on welfare reform. I understood the problems with welfare because I was inside this world and I knew that the Republican revolutionaries of 1994 were on target that government was the problem, not the solution.
The massive and growing welfare rolls, and the broken families and human beings that went along with this, were a clear problem that reflected a vision of the world that saw government as an answer to poverty. Republicans put up a clear alternative vision to relocate responsibility from government to individuals.
The whole Contract With America was defined by these principles.
When Americans went to the polls in November 1994 they weren't just voting out incumbents. They were casting a vote for a clear alternative vision for how the country should be governed.
There was also leadership. Newt Gingrich was an aggressive and bold spokesman for the Republican alternative.
Although polls today may be showing strong voter dissatisfaction with the Republican-controlled Congress, I see little that reminds me of 1994.
Not only are Democrats not offering an alternative, I don't think they have any prospect of doing so.
Agendas are not gimmicks. They reflect underlying reality.
The clear underlying reality is that America's future demands that we continue in the direction of restoring traditional values in our communities and continue to limit the role of government. This isn't about ideology; it's about facts.
Unless Democrats are prepared to totally re-tool and out Republican the Republicans, I think Washington will remain a Republican town as long as the GOP can reconnect clearly with its natural agenda and articulate it with Gingrich-like clarity.
What's the agenda for 2006?
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