While I, like many conservatives, am disappointed by the GOP House Leadership elections, I am at least heartened that current Majority Leader — and future Minority Leader — John Boehner recognizes that the GOP needs “to get back to our core principles and rededicate ourselves to the reform mindset that put us in the majority 12 years ago.“
In her column on the elections, the columnist I’ve called “my Athena,” agrees, saying Republicans “must develop a conservatism that speaks for and to the times. And stop being pigs–i.e., earmarking careerists who started with belief and wound up with hunger.” And Boehner has been anything but an “earmarking careerist,” having kept a promise he made in his 1990 bid for Congress not to bring back pork to his district.
And despite his distaste for pork, he easily won that election as well as his eight subsequent reelections — in presidential years, always running ahead of our party’s nominee for Chief Executive. A sign that if one represents his constituents well, he doesn’t need bring back the bacon to keep his seat.
While I would have preferred Boehner’s rival, Indiana conservative Mike Pence, I note with some comfort that, in his first term in Congress, Boehner worked with then-Minority Whip Newt Gingrich to develop a strategy to help the GOP become the nation’s majority party. They did so by committing the party to the small-government ideas of Ronald Reagan. Let us hope that, as Minority Leader, Boehner returns to those ideas — and to the lessons he learned in the early 1990s.
Today’s election may seem a setback to conservatives, but it need not be. If Boehner recalls the energy and idealism of his first years in Congress, he should succeed. That he has held to his initial campaign promise not to bring pork back to his district is a good sign of a man committed to principle. Now, if he could only extend that practice to the rest of his colleagues, the GOP could become more principled and responsible in the minority than it was in its most recent years in the majority.
I found Boehner to be impressive when we spoke, and he seems like a natural leader. The fact that he mid-wifed the horrific No Child Left Behind monstrosity isn’t a mark in his favor, but the voters definitely gave the Republican Party a “come to Jesus” moment last week and I think Boehner got the message. At least I hope he did.
Now that I’ve whet you appetite, just read the whole thing!