Atmore becomes Scarborough Country

Published 2:43 am Monday, May 22, 2006

By By Tray Smith
This past Tuesday, I had the privilege of being introduced to Joe Scarborough by United Bank President Mr. Bob Jones. If you have never seen Scarborough Country, Scarborough is a former Republican congressman who is currently the host of his own cable news program on MSNBC. He was first elected to the United States House of Representatives as part of the Republican take-over of 1994 and he resigned his post in May 2001.
Mr. Scarborough was in Atmore for a reception at the United Bank preceding a speech at the Rotary Academic All-Stars Banquet. His speech was motivational, but perhaps the most motivation came from Mr. Scarborough's own life.
Joe Scarborough did not make straight A's, did not come from a rich family, and did not attend an Ivy League University (he actually attended the University of Alabama and the University of Florida.) However, at a young age he beat a sixteen year incumbent for his seat in the United States House of Representatives and became the first Republican to ever represent the 1st district of Florida (which includes Pensacola, where Joe Scarborough lives and films his show). He was one of several Republican candidates to win in a sweeping midterm election that gave control of Congress to the Republican Party for the first time in forty years. (The Republicans remain in control today.) His personal story is a testament to the American Dream, and a clear symbol of our nation's endless opportunity.
After his election, he became one of an increasingly rare number of politicians who followed strictly by the ideas he campaigned on. In the face of plummeting poll numbers, the Republican Party has come under scrutiny lately for abandoning its principals of small government, low spending, and a balanced budget. The disregard for these policies is the most concrete explanation for the GOP's current political woes.
However, the special thing about Joe Scarborough is that he never forgot those principals. Despite the prevailing wisdom of the day, despite the polls of the day, and despite the political rhetoric of the day, Scarborough always stood out for a conservative fiscal and economic program and fought against unnecessary government waste. He was part of a group of conservatives that demanded Congress hold the line on appropriations in spite of the positions held by their Congressional and party leaders. Their work lead to the realization of a balanced budget in the 1998-2001 fiscal years.
Unfortunately, most of Scarborough's allies have already left Congress, and no one is left to resist the temptation of bloated appropriations. That is why we have gone from a record surplus to a record deficit. I refer to our current problems as the "Scarborough Gap" because there is a clear shortage of politicians willing to make substantial progress on the many challenging issues of our day. And the lack of real action on behalf of America's current majority party is going to cause major problems for Republicans in the upcoming midterm elections, as they may loose control of one or both houses of our national legislature.
To speak out against the direction of his own party, Mr. Scarborough published a book titled "Rome Wasn't Burnt in a Day." In his writings, he takes own big spenders, career politicians, elitist, and political hacks. In my personal conversation with Mr. Scarborough, he said that the upcoming elections were shaping up to be a Democratic sweep. While it is still too early to tell, he said it could be "like 1994." Except, this time, it will be the Democrats taking power. He also expressed a vague interest in running for office in the future, possibly one of Florida's U.S. senate seats.
Joe Scarborough has been at the forefront of leading the conservative movement. He is a true leader, and a genuine public servant. It is unfortunate that we do not have many people like him serving in Congress today.
That is the bottom line.
Tray Smith is a freshman at Escambia Academy. He may be reached for contact at His column appears weekly.

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