Republicans are still painting in pastels instead of bold colors.
Even the profoundly dangerous and oxymoronically named "Respect for Marriage Act" has failed to draw concerted GOP opposition. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has been playing coy, saying he needs to see the final draft. Really? Haven't the Democrats, including Joe Manchin, already rolled him enough?
The Elephant Party seems to be counting on President Biden's awful performance and a reeling economy to generate a congressional reset.
Maybe. But experience has taught us that you can't beat something with nothing, even if that something is flat-out horrific, like Mr. Biden's "Mein Kampf" moment in Philadelphia.
In 1994, New Gingrich engineered the Contract with America, nationalizing the election midway through Bill Clinton's first term. The GOP gained 54 House seats and eight in the Senate, giving them control over Congress for the first time in 40 years. Democrats had held the House for 58 of the preceding 62 years and the Senate for 34 of 40 years before 1994.
Consisting of 10 promised bills that the new Congress would pass (all did except term limits), the Contract was key to the political upheaval. But there were other powerful factors.
Like Joe Biden, Mr. Clinton had campaigned as a moderate. And like Mr. Biden, he lurched to the left upon taking office. He and the Democrat Congress rammed through a tax increase, an assault weapons ban and forced the armed forces to accept homosexuals. A poll in the Wall Street Journal after the election indicated that the most powerful issue working against Democrats was putting "gays in the military," a finding now absent from most accounts.
There was also Hillary Care, which was Mrs. Clinton's scheme to impose socialized medicine. I still think the most effective opposition message was from Family Research Council. The full-page ad featured Dr. Joycelyn Elders, Bill Clinton's inexplicable pick for surgeon general. Her photo was surrounded by her bizarre statements with the message: "Bill Clinton chose this doctor. Now he wants to choose yours."
Sixteen years later, pushing Obamacare, President Obama resorted to his famous lie, "if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor."
The Contract with America was signed by more than 300 Republican candidates and unveiled six weeks before the election. Tax cuts, crime, welfare reform and a balanced budget amendment were highlights.
After the dust settled, the GOP not only had Congress but added 12 governors and regained control of 20 state legislatures.
I've been noodling with a number of conservatives about what might make a compelling Contract with America in the upcoming election. We are seven weeks out, so perhaps the GOP will have unveiled something by now. In any case, here are 12 ideas.
- Secure the border and build the wall. Even Democrats are fearful of this issue as millions of illegal immigrants pour over the border and are shipped all over America.
- Defund the 87,000 new IRS agents. How many Americans want the IRS to become even more powerful?
- Restore American energy independence. Mr. Biden's attack on fossil fuels is costing everyone dearly and putting America at the mercy of hostile regimes.
- Repeal the student loan giveaway. Forcing working Americans to bail out students in "woke" universities that teach them to hate America is not popular except to lucky recipients.
- Cut spending and taxes. The Democrats' multi-trillion-dollar spending has caused ruinous inflation and destroyed thousands of small businesses. Families suffering from ridiculous prices need relief, not higher taxes.
- Reign in the FBI; stop politically motivated searches. From the Mar-a-Lago raid to goon squads seizing phones and abusing Trump supporters, we are fast losing our self-governing republic.
- Legislate more religious liberty and speech protection. In the face of Big Tech censorship, LGBTQ activists and fake "rights" groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center, the First Amendment is hanging by a thread.
- Stop all COVID mandates; investigate Dr. Fauci, the CDC and FDA. This is not just about bad health practices that almost certainly cost lives. The Wuhan pandemic is a trial run for a totalitarian future fashioned by those who know "what's best for us."
- Halt all federal coercion involving transgender and CRT agendas. Not only don't they "follow the science" or honest history but they spread insanity and racial animus to children.
- Defund Planned Parenthood. This one is long overdue. Taxpayers should not be forced to be complicit in ending innocent human lives.
- Repeal unconstitutional laws abridging the right to bear arms. Democrats are serious about their incremental war on gun ownership.
- Require proof of U.S. citizenship to vote in national elections. Also, enact other election integrity reforms, such as voter ID and fining jurisdictions that won't clean up their registration rolls.
Other items could be educational tax credits, a brutal crackdown on fentanyl dealers (and their sources), and ending "woke" policies in the military.
If someone at the Republican brain trust has already come up with something more effective than this brief list, good on them.
Otherwise, I hope it will at least be grounds for discussion. Thanks to all who offered ideas.
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