Must things get worse in order to get better?

Posted: Oct 16, 2006 12:01 AM

A survey just released by the Pew Center shows that 51 percent of Democrats are enthusiastic about voting in 2006 as opposed to 33 percent of Republicans. This is almost a mirror image of what the picture looked like in 1994.

A Pew Center poll also shows a precipitous drop in support for Republicans and the Bush Administration among white evangelicals. It's now a little over 50 percent, whereas in 2004 it was closer seventy-five a percent.

Given the realities staring us in the face, none of this is a surprise. I know that these polls reflect the facts accurately just from reading my mail.

Republicans and conservatives are fed up with their party and their representatives. But can it be that anything is better than what we now have?

I've gotten letters telling me that I've sold out because I've written that we should not abandon the Republican Party because at least there is a chance of fixing it. What do we gain by allowing Democrats, who are wrong on everything, to regain power, just to express anger at wayward Republicans?

I'm as mad as everyone else. In fact, I think I've been madder _ and mad longer _ than everyone else.

I've been arguing for years that although the current administration pays lip service to traditional values, it has missed the central point that limited government is the other side of the same coin as traditional values.

Big government and a moral, traditional, and genuinely free society simply cannot go together. It's worth remembering the observation of British historian Lord Acton that "power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely."

The correlation between the amount of power that we put in the hands of politicians, and the tendency of those politicians to become corrupt, is a human reality, not a partisan one. We can expect it from Republicans as well as Democrats.

Given the failure of the current Republican regime to limit government, and to actually find reasons to grow it, what we're seeing today should come as no surprise.

Nevertheless, I still will argue that we shouldn't take our eye off the ball. Conservatives need to stay focused on what we, and all Americans, need _ traditional values and limited government _ and continue to push positively toward this end. Despair is no answer and will only make things work.

With all the comparisons to 1994, it shouldn't be forgotten that Republicans ran in 1994 on a positive agenda _ the Contract with America. Americans voted for something in '94.

I'm adding nothing new to point out that there is no Democratic agenda in 2006. There are only Democrats looking for power and trying to grab it by taking advantage of Republican incompetence. Unfortunately, not a challenge.

We ought to think back further than 1994 and go back to 1976 when Jimmy Carter was elected president. There are a lot of similarities between what is happening now and the picture then.

The country was still traumatized by the aftermath of the Vietnam War, by having a president resign as result of the Watergate scandal, and what was then called the "energy crisis."

Carter was elected to bring fresh air to Washington. He sold himself as a man of the people who would bring decency back to Washington. Fed up Americans voted for him in hope that he would indeed bring back the fresh air that they wanted to breathe.

Unfortunately, like all so-called populists, what Carter really believed in was government and not people. To deal with our energy problems, he created a new Department of Energy. To deal with our education problems, he created a new Department of Education.

Four years later, we had double digit inflation, twenty percent interest rates, a doubling of energy prices, and Americans held hostage in Iran.

The country had to go through even greater trauma than it was in in 1976 in order to open the door for the Reagan era four years later.

Do we have to go through this again? Is the only path to electing Republicans who really believe in traditional values and limited government to throw out the current rascals, lock, stock, and barrel, and elect Democrats who will show us how bad things really can get?

There is no question that current Republican leadership has lowered the bar. But let's not forgot just how free this country is. We ultimately get the leadership that we want and are willing to tolerate.

I think conservatives let our elected Republican officials off too easy these past years by tolerating an excessive growth of government that itself was symptomatic that there was a problem.

The answer is to get refocused, clarify our principles, and fix the party.

The question is if we'll have to do it sitting on the sidelines while the Democrats turn what is bad into what is worse.