Republicans were cast into the wilderness beginning in 2006 because they abandoned a basic set of principles – not just their own principles, but those of the nation they were entrusted to lead.
Rather than standing up for American freedoms and free markets, the GOP instead became the party of big government and corruption – enabling Democrats to sweep into power promising to “drain the swamp” and usher in an era of “hope and change.”
Obviously lurking beneath these rhetorical flourishes was a radical socialist agenda – one that has exploded our debt, derailed our economy and eroded our individual liberties. Not only was the swamp never drained, but the cost of Washington’s corrupt, deficit-driven “dependency culture” has never been steeper.
In a sweeping repudiation of this socialist agenda, taxpayers have taken action on a grand scale.
First, they reclaimed a significant chunk of the Republican Party for the fiscal values it so recently abandoned – a most welcome ideological shift. Second, they sent representatives of this recalibrated Republican Party to Congress in numbers not seen since the depths of the Great Depression.
Armed with this mandate Republicans must now begin the hard work of leading our nation out of its current fiscal and economic malaise. That process will clearly take more than one election cycle, but it begins with the selection of GOP committee chairmen. As these critical decisions are made, it is imperative for Republicans to choose leaders who can be trusted to advance the agenda that they were elected to implement.
One GOP lawmaker hoping to secure a powerful committee chairmanship is Michigan Rep. Fred Upton. Not only is Upton greasing numerous legislative palms with contributions from his political action committee, but various media reports are touting this twelve-term Congressman’s “conservative track record.”
Like other old guard Republicans in Washington, however, Upton’s true track record is anything but “conservative.”
In 2005, for example, Upton was one of only three Republicans to vote against extending the Bush tax cuts on capital gains and dividends. Last year, he was one of only nine Republicans to vote against an amendment that would have replaced Barack Obama’s bureaucratic bailout with $787 billion worth of tax cuts. He has also previously supported legislation that would have required a super-majority of 60 votes in the U.S. Senate to pass future tax cuts.
On spending Upton’s record isn’t much better. For example, he voted in favor of the Democrats’ $409 billion Omnibus Appropriations Act last year – a bill that gave Obama $19 billion more than he requested. Additionally, this spending resolution contained $7.7 billion in earmarks, increased the Congressional budget by 11 percent and sent $545 million overseas to help pay for abortions.
So loaded down with pork was this monstrosity that twenty Democrats voted against it.
In addition to supporting Democratic budget resolutions, Upton also refused to support Republicans who were working to block the most egregious components of the Obama-Nancy Pelosi spending spree. Whether it was a vote to eliminate $355 billion out of the Democrats’ wasteful “stimulus,” or numerous votes to return agency funding back to pre-bailout levels,Congressman Upton repeatedly turned his back on taxpayers and voted with the majority party.
Not surprisingly, Upton’s bid for a plum committee chairmanship has encountered virtually no Democratic opposition.
“I don't think Democrats would have any great issue with him,” liberal talking head Eleanor Clift said recently. “They would probably applaud his chairmanship.”
Of course Democrats are applauding Upton – after all, he’s been supporting them for years.
If Republicans hope to restore this nation’s fiscal and economic footing, then they must choose leaders who embody the core principles of the movement that has propelled their party back into political relevance. Specifically, newly-elected U.S. Congressmen should think long and hard about whether they want to give a promotion to a career politician who helped create our current predicament in the first place.
William Wilson is the President of Americans for Limited Government. He has spent his career working in political strategy and public affairs for various causes and organizations.