If it were not for the intense animosity Democratic congressional leaders (and prospective committee chairs) harbored for the President of the United States, I would not be so concerned about a Democratic takeover of Congress. While there have been signs of improvement in the Republican caucus in recent days, it still has not fully embraced the Reaganite agenda of The Contract with America, the series of policy proposals which helped the GOP win a majority in Congress in 1994.
Perhaps, a term in the minority might remind them of the limited government principles which animated the Gipper’s policies, still define much Republican rhetoric and inspired rank-and-file Republicans for over a quarter-century. But, given the Bush-hatred which animates the Democrats, it seems clear they would use their majority not to govern, but to obstruct.
Indeed, this past week has provided much evidence that if the Democrats took control of Congress this fall, they would have a hard time uniting around any legislative priorities. On Friday, House Democrats failed to unite in opposition to a resolution opposing setting a date for “withdrawal or redeployment” of our troops in Iraq. Today, Senate Democrats showed a similar division. While Democrats did present their “New Directions” agenda, even liberal Washington Post columnist David Broder found it to be “as meager as it was unimaginative“
While House Republicans in 1994 offered a comprehensive proposal with draft legislation, the Democrat’s “New Direction for America” is nothing more than a campaign flyer offering broad policy goals rather than specific means to accomplish those goals. A full half (one-page of a two-page document (available here)) is devoted to attacks on President Bush. That animosity seems to be what’s really animating congressional Democrats.
Unable to unite on a policy agenda, majority Democrats would likely turn their energy into unleashing endless investigations of the Chief Executive they revile. As the MSM would delight in such investigations, these investigations could make it increasingly difficult for the president to exercise his constitutional responsibilities as Commander-in-Chief, which right now involves securing the nation against terrorist threats and completing the victory in Iraq.
Such extremism could expose the divisions in the Democratic caucus, particularly given that, in the unfortunate event that they win majorities this fall, most of the new members will be from marginal or GOP-leaning districts. Facing re-election in a presidential election year, these freshmen representatives would want to pursue a more moderate course.
As I’ve said before, twelve years ago, the impetus for reform came from a majority of the minority caucus in Congress. With the Democrats’ “unimaginative” agenda for 2006, we see that there is not much impetus for reform within the minority caucus today. The impetus for reform comes from an increasingly vocal minority within the majority caucus, putting forward proposals in the spirit of Ronald Reagan and The Contract with America. If only the House Republican leadership would listen.
-Dan (AKA GayPatriotWest): GayPatriotWest@aol.com