you can’t blame newt for these republicans

read the first part of the contract that started the gingrich revolution:

As Republican Members of the House of Representatives and as citizens seeking to join that body we propose not just to change its policies, but even more important, to restore the bonds of trust between the people and their elected representatives.

That is why, in this era of official evasion and posturing, we offer instead a detailed agenda for national renewal, a written commitment with no fine print.

This year’s election offers the chance, after four decades of one-party control, to bring to the House a new majority that will transform the way Congress works. That historic change would be the end of government that is too big, too intrusive, and too easy with the public’s money. It can be the beginning of a Congress that respects the values and shares the faith of the American family.

Like Lincoln, our first Republican president, we intend to act “with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right.” To restore accountability to Congress. To end its cycle of scandal and disgrace. To make us all proud again of the way free people govern themselves.

On the first day of the 104th Congress, the new Republican majority will immediately pass the following major reforms, aimed at restoring the faith and trust of the American people in their government:

it then goes on to list specific policy initiatives, designed to check spending, restore accountability to congress, and to reduce big government. that’s what the american people voted for then, and this is what they still want to see. this is what republicans said they stood for in 1994, and they put it in writing in the contract with america(full text here).

i suppose it’s easy to forget something that was written over ten years ago. we can argue about the effectiveness of the policy proposals here, but the contract for america set an agenda and made specific suggestions to address problems. it took the republicans quite some time to figure out what changes to suggest, and how to sell it to the voters. like the british labour party, they needed to re-package themselves and make their agenda marketable to the average person. the contract was part of the marketing strategy, and it worked pretty well.

what does the republican party stand for now? what can they point to as achievements during their time in power? do they even deserve to hold on to their majority? you know that the party is in trouble when the criticism leveled at them by the former leader of the revolution is quoted by democrats. i was flipping past c-span and i saw a virtually empty room with democrats talking to themselves, holding up clever posterboards with gingrich quotes and the ugly deficit numbers, and generally preaching to the very small choir that was assembled there. i’m not sure exactly what the purpose of the meeting was, but it sure was entertaining to watch. in any case, newt was right then, and he is right now. the republicans have fallen off the wagon. maybe it’s time for some tough love for them administered by the voters of this country.

i don’t really want to see the republicans lose congress. i still think they are a better alternative than the democrats. i will do all i can to help defeat the current democrat in my congressional district, because we need a change there. i’m just saying that a good hard slap in the face and defeat in ’06 wouldn’t be the worst thing to happen to the republican party. it might even produce the radical reforms needed to bring the party back to its small-government roots.

i guess i should say something about tom delay here. he did the right thing. the political fallout or non-fallout i will leave for pundits to determine.

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