With recent polls showing that Republican opposition to the “stimulus” hasÂ helped make the party more competitive, the GOP has a chance to repeat the gains it made in the 1994 mid-term elections, quite possibly winning back the House and with an outside (okay, very outside) chance of recapturing the Senate.
But, if Republicans want to win, they have to do more than just run against the spendthrift policies of the Obama-Reid-Pelosi Democrats, they also, like their forebears in Clinton’s first term, need to run on a reform platform. To that end, they would be wise to put together an updated version of the Contract with America.
In this Contract, however, unlike the 1994 version, they must acknowledge that they made mistakes while in the majority. Back then, almost no one could remember when Republicans had controlled two consecutive Congresses. Now, many can. So, Republicans must make clear that they have learned from their mistakes in the majority.
This time, just as they did fifteen years ago, they can run against a Democratic leadership determined to centralize power, making it difficult for the minority to contribute. At the start of the current Congress, Nancy Pelosi’s Democrats rewrote House Rules, reversing Republican reforms and returning to old runs which made it all but impossible for the minority to offer alternative legislation or amendments to bills.
Republicans can once again campaign on being the party of open government, borrowing a page from Barack Obama’s successful presidential campaign. As he is reneging on his commitment to transparency, the Republicans can promise to hold his feet to the fire.
The first plank in a new Contract with America would be to do something with all legislation that Democrats promised (& failed) to do with the “stimulus”–post it online for a full 48 hours before voting.