One post-election question still unanswered for Illinois Republicans is “why would Republicans at the national level want to imitate the failed strategy of our Illlinois GOP leaders?”
“You can never stop teaching,” Rush Limbaugh said last week Wednesday. It seems the politicians on our side of the aisle still have much to learn.
As noted on these pages in recent days, since the early 1990s Illinoisans have increasingly supported Democrats because Republicans stopped advancing an agenda. Many of those Republicans still in office here have “Democrat Envy.” If you fed them truth serum you’d find that in their hearts they believe the Republican Party’s work will be done when it has made all the social radicals happy and big government work.
Those two missions are impossible, by the way, since those who seek to radically change culture are motivated by psychological issues that won’t be assuaged by success and big government can’t be made to work.
The veto session begins today in Springfield and Republican legislators are showing signs that they are as confused as ever about which policies work and the role of political leadership itself. They see what happened at the national level and in Illinois on Election Day as a confirmation that they should move even further left.
Since Illinois Republicans stopped advancing anything “conservative” long ago the view that losing seven seats in the General Assembly had something to do with being too conservative defies logic.
The day before last week’s election the Weekly Standard’s Fred Barnes commented that when the national Dems brought up Iraq, the Republicans had no countervailing issues. In Illinois we sure know what that’s like.
Nationally, the consensus is that “Republicanism” lost, not conservatism. Below are a few quotes from commentators saying as much – though we realize that most Illinois Republican legislators won’t be swayed by most of these voices. To be open to such analysis you have to believe that limited government and traditional values are the best platform and can win the day.
The only quote below they might consider is the first – that of the Chicago Tribune editorial board. (It’s embarrassing to watch Illinois Republican politicians seek the Trib’s approval exactly like many junior high kids seek the approval of the in-crowd.)
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Chicago Tribune editorial, November 12, 2006:
A retrospective about the Democratic Party’s capture of Congress could begin with these three sentences:
Millions of Americans who decry rampant federal spending and Capitol Hill corruption welcome the demotion of congressional Republicans who once championed conservative causes–but lost their way in Washington.
Angry voters, many of whom had trusted the GOP to be the party of cleaner, leaner government, dethroned House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) by awarding 20-some Republican seats to a relatively moderate-to-conservative class of incoming Democrats.
The Guardian of London described the more iconoclastic
members of the class in a Friday dispatch from the States: “Pro-gun, anti-abortion and fiscally conservative–Meet the neo-Dems.”
…Particularly in the last two years, cautious GOP leaders in Congress squandered one opportunity after another to resolve problems.
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George Will, November 9, 2006:
[Republicans] were punished not for pursuing but for forgetting conservatism
Second, they admire market rationality, and the political market has worked.
Third, on various important fronts, conservatism continued its advance Tuesday…
The country remains receptive to conservatism. That doctrine — were it to become constraining on, rather than merely avowed by, congressional Republicans — can be their bridge back from the wilderness.
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Republican Congressman Jeff Flake in the Wall Street Journal, November 10, 2006:
I was rummaging through my closet the other day when I came across an old T-shirt. Stamped across the front were the words “SCRAP THE CODE: The Armey-Tauzin Tax Reform Debates.” On the back was a list of 25 cities on the “National Tax Reform Tour.”
What a difference a few years makes. During this election season, Republican congressional leaders awarded members with a bronze bust of Ronald Reagan if they could prove they’d hosted town halls to explain to seniors how to sign up for the newly created Medicare Part D, which created a huge new prescription-drug entitlement in an already huge entitlement program.
And we wonder why we were beaten like a rented mule on Tuesday?
The contest between the parties has come, for now, to a decisive close. But as Republicans, we have a choice to make, and we need to make it soon. The factions of the party must decide: Are we going to re-emerge as the party of ideas — or be content as assistant hirelings of big government?
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Rush Limbaugh November 8, 2006:
There hasn’t been in the ideology in the Republican Party, any conservatism for at least two to maybe four years. You could argue Bush was more of an ideologue in the presidential campaign of ’04, but in looking at what happened yesterday, it wasn’t conservatism that lost. Conservatism won when it ran as a Democrat. It won in a number of places. Republicanism lost. RINO Republicans, country club blue-blood Republicans, this nonpartisan Republican identity, that’s what went down in flames.
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Newt Gingrich, November 13, 2006:
Republicans, in two short years, gave up the advantages on taxes, balancing the budget and controlling spending that they had spent three generations earning…
The problem has been with Republican leaders who forgot who elected them and what values their supporters expected to see implemented in Washington.
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©2006 John Francis Biver