Principle and Power

Posted: Feb 21, 2014 12:01 AM
Principle and Power

According to recent polling, a majority of people who voted for Barack Obama in 2012 regret voting for him. That does not mean they wish, instead, that they had voted for Mitt Romney. They just regret voting for Barack Obama.

With Democrats convincing themselves the only way to win 2014 is to accuse Republicans of fostering domestic violence because of their opposition to Obamacare, the Republican Party looks set for another wave election year. From sea to sea, the GOP will probably pick up seats. The Democrats are largely resigned to having no chance to take the House of Representatives. The Senate remains in play, but only barely.

Republicans will, when November comes, most likely control both houses of Congress and will most likely keep their hold on the majority of states, too. All this raises a question -- what does the Republican Party stand for?

Those who say the Republicans stand for limited government should cast an eye toward the Ryan-Murray spending plan. Authored in bipartisan fashion, the plan broke the sequestration spending limits Congress had put in place and raised taxes. Cast another eye toward the recent vote to raise the debt ceiling.

Republicans in Washington gave President Obama a blank check to increase the nation's debt until March of 2015. Republicans in the Senate, led by Sens. Mitch McConnell and John Cornyn, shut down Sen. Ted Cruz's effort to block the debt ceiling increase.

For those who say the Republicans stand for local control and states' rights, cast your eye to Congressman Eric Cantor, the House Republican leader. He has given a series of speeches and suggested a number of policies premised on Washington helping the middle class. The whole of the Republican Party seems convinced that Washington, instead of leaving America alone, can rock us till we fall asleep, place bandaids on our scraped-up knees, and spoon feed us in high chairs.

In fact, the party of limited government, individual responsibility and traditional values listens more and more to billionaire and multimillionaire donors who are convinced what is good for Wall Street is good for Main Street. Consequently, the GOP's uniting principles seem to be that it can control the government leviathan better than the Democrats. Republicans have decided to settle for campaign claims of technocratic proficiency with subsidies for Wall Street.

Most Americans hold Washington in contempt. They do not want to vote for a party that believes the problem is not government itself, but just Democrats in charge of it. Americans want Washington to leave them alone. They are as tired of our black-robed judicial masters decreeing one-size-fits-all amorality as they are of elected officials finding new ways to reward their large donors with the middle-class tax dollars.

Americans also do not want to just be anti-Obama. Right now, the Republican Party, when not collaborating to grow the size and scope of the federal leviathan, runs on anti-Obama rhetoric. Conservatives like Mike Lee, the Republican Senator from Utah, have put forward tax reform packages and other legislation that favors the middle class. Republican leaders have ignored him, choosing to pound their chests about Barack Obama, the socialist, while giving him a blank check to increase the national debt.

Conservatism remains about limited government, taking responsibility for yourself and stabilizing values. Republicans in Washington and their talking-head friends in the media talk about these things. They talk about getting Washington out of our lives. But the Republican proposals pushed by the Republican leaders differ greatly from their rhetoric.

Is it any wonder Americans hate Washington and conservatives hate their own Republican Party? The Republicans look like they are on course to win big this November. But if they do not put to practice their conservative preaching, voters will again reject them. On the other hand, if Republican voters fight in primaries and replace the existing Republican faces in Washington with fresh faces and fresh ideas, perhaps they can reconcile their principles with the power of a party finally ready to lead again.