Republican foolishness harmful
By By Tray Smith
Last week, I predicted that the GOP would retain its majorities in both houses of Congress after the 2005 mid-term elections. However, that does not mean that I think the nation will be better off because of their continuous grip on power. Though I am a Republican, I find myself increasingly disenfranchised with my own party (on the national level) and I can only console myself with the fact that the GOP is much better than the alternative.
I recently heard a Republican strategist comment that the GOP is not America's Conservative Party, the Republican Party is a "big-tent" party that welcomes differences of opinion on a number of issues. Tell me about it. If the GOP was America's Conservative Party, it would not have idled by in the majority of both Houses of Congress for four years and watched as a record budget surplus became a record budget deficit. Our porous border welcomed millions of illegal immigrants and our national petroleum supply remained off limits despite record-high gasoline prices. All of this, and we also have a Republican in the White House!
The truth is, being a big tent party is not a good thing. Political Parties were formed so that people who agreed ideologically could join together to govern the nation based on their principles. When a party is expanded so as to include people with no consistent set of beliefs, that party fails to be an effective organization. While no group of people can be expected to agree on every issue, there are certain things Republicans believe in (or at least, they believed in them when Reagan and Gingrich were around.) Republicans believe in preserving traditional values. Republicans believe in a small government. Republicans believe in a strong national security policy based around a strong military. And if you do not generally agree with Republican theory in at least two out of three of those areas, then you are probably not a Republican.
But, for the sake of appealing to voters and preserving their House and Senate majorities, Republican leaders have sold the soul of their party. They have accommodated and supported liberal Republicans at every turn. They have allowed their entire caucus to be held hostage by a handful of "moderate" GOP lawmakers. They have balked at certain reforms in fear of angering the elderly, the African Americans, the Hispanics, the religious right, the poor, and women. This strategy has been successful in filling Congress up with votes for a Republican Speaker of the House and Senate Majority Leader, but it has not been successful for anything else. Despite almost unbelievable electoral successes in the 2002 and 2004 Congressional elections, all the Republicans have been able to do is elect Dennis Hassert to serve as Speaker of the House. And that's not saying much, considering King Louis XVI had better leadership skills than Hassert does.
Last week's Senate primary in Rhode Island is a perfect example of Republican foolhardiness. In hopes of retaining its Senate Majority, the National Republican Party bent over backwards to help ensure that incumbent Rhode Island Senator, Lincoln Chafee, remained its party's nominee on the November ballot. While Chafee was running even with his conservative opponent Steve Laffey in pre-election polls, the Republican Party helped Chafee ensure a victory because it felt Laffey was too conservative to defeat his Democratic challenger in the general election.
Lincoln Chafee is a Republican in name only. He is pro-choice, he voted against the Bush tax cuts, and was the sole Republican Senator to vote against invading Iraq, a war that he continues to oppose. He became a Republican simply because he thought that was what rich white men who have never worked a day in their lives are supposed to do. The fact that the RNC went overboard to support a liberal candidate in a party primary proves that the GOP is intent on maintaining power, not enacting a conservative agenda.
I would rather be stuck in the doldrums of the Congressional minority for ever than have a majority party that is ineffective and made up of people like Chafee. Unfortunately, this is not the first time the Republican Party has shot itself in the foot by pursuing such an idiotic strategy. In 2004, President Bush supported Arlen Specter over his conservative challenger Pat Toomey in the Pennsylvania Republican Primary. Since being re-elected, the pro-choice Specter has caused considerable problems for the President by being less-than-supportive of the NSA wiretapping program and President Bush's judicial nominees.
Some have speculated that it would be a disaster for President Bush if Democrats took control of Congress this November. I do not know why. Despite having a majority in both houses of Congress, Republicans have not been able to pass the Presidents immigration proposal into law, they shot down his signature Social Security reform plan, and they have continued to stonewall efforts to make the Bush tax cuts permanent. The President's judicial appointments continue to get shelved. Billions of barrels of oil are sitting off limits in Alaska, and now Senate Republicans are refusing to even let Bush's proposal for the treatment of terrorist suspects become law. President Bush is a visionary leader. Republicans in Congress are not. They have been bad for the country, bad for President Bush, and bad for the world.
That is the bottom line.
(Please note: Congressman Bonner is an exception. He has served our district well and definitely deserves to be re-elected).
Tray Smith is a freshman at ECHS. He writes a weekly political column for the Atmore Advance. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.