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Warning to Republican Officeholders

This article first appeared on Feb 6, 2010.

It is one of SwamiDave’s undenialble truths: "Perspective is closely linked to Proximity; Things are rarely as good or as bad as they seem!"  That reality has not been more evident than events over the past 12-18 months.  Seemingly 12 months ago, the political punditry were busily delivering eulogies for Conservatism while many Conservatives were behaving as if they were friendless hermits drudging through a lonely, miserable existence.  With recent electoral events, many of those same talking heads are declaring an inevitable Conservative tsunami in the upcoming 2010 midterms while Democrats and Liberals seem fated to again visit the governing wilderness. 
In both cases, the reality was and is more so one-sided.  Democrats, assuming a political advantage (see: White House Rahm Emanuel’s famous quote about advancing liberal policies by "….never letting a good crisis go to waste"), over-reached to such a grand scale that it will almost certainly lead to elective losses in November if not an all-together loss of majority control.  The recent win of Senator Scott Brown (R-MA) has emboldened some to weigh the possibilities that Republicans could regain control of both the House and the Senate. 
The note of warning is for those who hold to any illusion it will be easy!  These campaigns will be a test of will.  With their apparent air of invincibility discredited, the real battle begins.  Anyone who thinks Democrats will surrender the power that they worked so hard to earn is sadly mistaken.  To take it away, Republicans will have to develop the will to do so.
Interestingly, there are already rumblings.  This week, John Boehner (R-OH) announced that the Republican caucus would hold to committments made during the original Contract With America (circa 1994) as it relates to term limits for committee chairmanships and membership on key committees.  Not surprisingly, many among his caucus are grousing since that rule would serve to disqualify some who, after their years of service and tenure, would be in seniority position if Republicans indeed take control. 

  1. (Politico – Link)

  3. (Politico – Link 2)

According to the story, many among the caucus are upset that time spent in the minority would count against their term limits.  Likewise, Boehner’s office has stated that they would continue to grant exceptions on a case-by-case basis.
Make no mistake about it.  Republicans should honor that committment and, frankly, should avoid offering exceptions to the rule altogether.  During this election cycle, a major storyline for Republican campaigns will be that Democrats (who many times ran in conservative districts or states) campaigned as "centrists" or "moderates" only to provide dependable support and votes for the fringe liberal policies and legislation put forth by their leadership.  Trustworthiness and Delivering-On-Promises is going to be a big issue during this election; reneging on a committment made in an earlier election (when it is politically-challenging) will not be well-received.  Anyone who doesn’t think that Democrats and their willing accomplices in the media will not latch onto this as an example of "Republican hypocrisy" is either clueless  or ignorant of reality.  
And to that matter, if Republicans cave to pressure within their caucus to break this committment, they deserve the firestorm and derision that they will undoubtedly get.  When your opponent has so glaring a weakness, you do not take actions that open yourself to the very same attack.  
Republicans have a clear opportunity to win and win big in November.  One of the biggest hurdles that they have to overcome is their failures in recent years to follow through on committments to their core principles of smaller government, lower taxes, and promotion of freedom, growth, and opportunity for American citizens.  Stepping forward and publicly following through on a committment made over 15 years ago will be an important step in exhibiting that resolve to say-what-you-mean and mean-what-you-say! 
America is watching!