Well If That’s All You Can Come Up With….

In an article published on Election Day, Reason Magazine asked Congressman Jeff Flake, a member of the Republican class of 1994 2000 and of the Republican Liberty Caucus, what happened to the Republican revolution that started in 1994. His response, was, in a word, depressing:

Reason: Whatever happened to the class of ’94?

Flake: I think Republicans have by and large gone native. I don’t know how you can conclude otherwise. You look at any measure of spending—overall spending, mandatory, discretionary, non-defense discretionary, non-homeland security spending—whichever way you slice it, the record looks pretty bad. When you look at where we’re heading, with Medicare Part D, it just means that these programs run out of money a lot sooner than they were going to already.

Republicans have adopted the belief or the principle that you spend money to get elected. When I was elected in 2000 it was ingrained in us, and since then it’s been even more so: Here’s how you get reelected, bring home the bacon. You have the head of the National Republican Congressional Committee, whose job it is to reelect Republicans, saying in defense of his earmarks that it’s the job of Congress to create jobs.

In other words, they ended up becoming exactly the thing that they campaigned against in 1994 — an entrenched majority concerned primarily with maintaining and expanding their power than. Not every Republican Congressman was like this; there are always exceptions to every rule. By 2004, though, it was clear that, for many Republicans in Congress those ideas about small government and freedom that they had in their stump speeches really didn’t mean anything to them. At least they didn’t govern like they did, and Flake recognizes that:

Reason: Has the GOP given up on the ideals of small government?

Flake: Well, that’s the natural conclusion to draw. There are some—like [fellow Arizona Republican Rep.] John Shadegg and not many others—who still vote for limited government. Of course all of them still profess it, but when you look at their votes you have a hard time concluding that they really believe it. Staying in office, staying in power, has come to overwhelm everything.

And on November 7th, they paid the price for that.

As I noted earlier today, the small government ideas at the heart of the Reagan Revolution and the `94 election still resonate with the American people. They just don’t believe the Republicans anymore when they promise to cut spending and control the growth of government. If the GOP is to make a comeback from this setback, and they most certainly can, they need to find the men and women who believe in those idea and get them into office. Starting with the Presidency.

H/T: Outside The Beltway

Previous Posts:

Why The Republicans Lost
Why The Republicans Lost, Part II