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Does GOP need a new Contract with America?

Well, duh.

Reviewing poll numbers which show that even as Republicans leads in generic matchups against Democrats, the GOP has still failed to regain the positive image it enjoyed frequently in the mid-1990s and occasionally in the early 2000s, I realize that our party still has not recovered to the damage the “brand” suffered in the concluding years of the Bush Administration.

At the same time, polls have shown that the ideas which undergirded the Reagan Revolution have gained greater favor among the American people.

In other words, people like the basic Republican ideas, but don’t yet trust the GOP to promote them and enact legislation consistent with them once in office.  It’s why I believe my party needs a new Contract with America, not the same as that successful document from 1994 — one that helped the GOP regain (after a 40-year hiatus) a congressional majority and whose planks the Democratic President of the United States cited as his accomplishments when he accepted his party’s nomination in 1996.

In a renewed contract, Republicans could acknowledge its failures in recent years and say something like “We understand that you [the American people] held us to the ideas behind that Contract and when we abandoned them, you voted us out.  We know that should we again stray from the small-government policies, you can — and likely will — do the same.”

Just such a Contract would go a long way to showing that Republicans recognize that they made errors in the past and could help improve their standing with the American people.



  1. If the Republicans take over again, we’re doomed.

    Comment by steve — August 29, 2010 @ 10:45 am - August 29, 2010

  2. If the Republicans take over again, we’re doomed.

    Awesome, because we’re royally f–ked right now. Doomed would be an improvement I could live with.

    Comment by ThatGayConservative — August 29, 2010 @ 11:03 am - August 29, 2010

  3. There are still too many of the buffoonish Big Government types in positions of authority of the GOP to regain trust. Even so, on fiscal issues they are still the lesser of two evils. If they have to function within a divided government they are likely remain truer to the notion of limited government. But come 2013 only a strongly committed limited-government President could protect them from their worst instincts of patronage and the incessant need to think that they have to “do something” about everything. If we get another Big Government GOP President I would agree that we will be doomed.

    Comment by Banzel — August 29, 2010 @ 11:26 am - August 29, 2010

  4. A new Contract With America is not going to hammered out in the style of the Constitutional Convention. It would be little more than the usual platform boilerplate.

    However, in the spirit of optimism, perhaps readers could contribute ideas of what would be on such a contract.

    Comment by heliotrope — August 29, 2010 @ 12:00 pm - August 29, 2010

  5. The big-government, totalitarian, “good-of-the-collective” social conservative types still have no clue, and they’d still be horrible. But they’re being left in the cold.

    The energy and passion — not to mention the popular support — is now behind the Palin/Beck Tea Party axis. All Leftist attempts to spin these people as “social conservatives” oversimplifies them. They are not big-government busybodies.

    I could see these folks coming forth with a contract with America. It is the sort of hopeful, ambitious thing they might do.

    Comment by Lori Heine — August 29, 2010 @ 12:02 pm - August 29, 2010

  6. #1 did steve mean “we’re” as in leftist, socialist Democrats?
    If so I agree with him totally.

    Comment by Gene in Pennsylvania — August 29, 2010 @ 1:14 pm - August 29, 2010

  7. The MSM and nutty left wing cable networks have so alienated the tea party goers and regular Americans, that Glenn Beck can get 300,000-600,000 folks to hang out in DC for a back to basics rally.
    And the nutty left calls these folks who gathered, out of the main stream. Chris Matthews on friday nite was foaming at the mouth, shouting for Republicans to kick out Nazi poster waving people from the rally. How wrong and nutty is he? I think the tidal wave Nov 2 may be larger than anyone imagined. I’m donating to a few of the tight races. Fiorino CA, Johnson WI, Angle NV. Anything to help in a 10-12 seat pickup in the Senate. It seems like a 60 seat change in the House is guaranteed.
    What a rout. And Obama doesn’t hide his dissappointment well. Picture his excuses on Nov 3rd. hehe

    Comment by Gene in Pennsylvania — August 29, 2010 @ 1:21 pm - August 29, 2010

  8. our party still has not recovered to the damage the “brand” suffered in the concluding years of the Bush Administration.

    Sadly, yes. As I just got done saying in the “stimulus” thread a couple of posts away: while Obama is clearly the problem right now, Bush also engaged in “stimulus” in the spring of 2008 and proposed the Wall Street bailouts (which Obama then signed and delivered). The Republicans have some apologizing to do.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — August 29, 2010 @ 1:25 pm - August 29, 2010

  9. (My “stimulus” comments start here:

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — August 29, 2010 @ 1:26 pm - August 29, 2010

  10. ILC,

    I am a lifelong Republican. I have nowhere else to go to cast my vote for fiscal conservatism. I loathe the prescriptions for seniors and TARP boondoggles Bush unleashed on America.

    I could not care less if Bush apologizes. I want all the McConnell / Hatch / Hutchinson type professional politicians to wake up or get out of the way. No Democrat I can think of is worth the powder to blow him up.

    My hope is that the TEA Party keeps giving the Republicans the cattle prod and that more people like Laura Ingraham on the O’Reilly Factor face Eric Cantor and other politicians and force them to cut the spin and doublespeak.

    Until the smooth talkers like Gingrich, Graham, Steele, McCain, and most of the rest feel the heat, they will continue to tap dance and treat us like they are the best we can hope for.

    There is nothing complicated about a 30% across the board budget cut. It is not impossible. It would not destroy America. It would not create hopeless hardship and homelessness. It would merely cause the government to do what every one of us has done many times in our lives in order to keep our heads above water.

    One thing I know for certain is that I would not turn to any elected politician to straighten out my problems. What is the essential difference between Bernie Madoff and Social Security, Medicare, Freddie/Fannie and the California Retirement Fund or the UAW? Well, of all of those, only Bernie Madoff has been exposed by all the geniuses at the nanny state bunker.

    Comment by heliotrope — August 29, 2010 @ 1:57 pm - August 29, 2010

  11. Its debatable about the effect of the Contract had on the Election, there are polls out there that showed most people didn’t even know the contract or most of what was in it.

    Comment by darkeyedresolve — August 29, 2010 @ 2:18 pm - August 29, 2010

  12. My hope is that the TEA Party keeps giving the Republicans the cattle prod

    We agree! 🙂

    There is nothing complicated about a 30% across the board budget cut.

    Indeed: since government workers on average make over 30% more than private ones today, and since most of every government dollar spent goes to worker pay and benefits, we could reduce spending by several hundred billion just by cutting all government worker salaries and benefits 30%. (I’d be willing to exempt active-duty military.)

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — August 29, 2010 @ 2:47 pm - August 29, 2010

  13. But then who would pay Levi and his fellow government workers to watch porn all day, ILC?

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — August 29, 2010 @ 3:53 pm - August 29, 2010

  14. Definitely YES! They need to resurrect portions of the 1994 Contract, and mean it. In the preamble the goal was to change the Washington works. (Didn´t Obama say the same thing, but with a different meanting) It acknowledged that government was too big and too easy with ¨the public¨s money.¨ As I had mentioned in previous comments on the subject, Newt really failed to deliver; as per an op-ed, piece in a 1998 edition of Fortune Magazine, by Doug Bandow of the Cato Institute True some agencies were eliminated and a few other merged. He points out that among the survivors are 342 federal programs devoted to economic development, 163 to job training, and 131 to helping juveniles in various ways. Two of the biggest sponges for tax payer dollars are the Department of Energy and FDR´s Rural Utility Service. As for fiscal responsibility, in 1998 discretionary spending went up 23 billion obn top of a 34% increase in domestic spending. I would hope that every conservative candidate has read, and I recommend everybody should read, FREE TO CHOOSE by Milton and Rose Friedman. Of particular interest are chapters six through eight, which shows how government multiplies agencies.

    Item 10, should be part of new contract and those who sign it should mean it. Term limits. Some of those who signed in 1994 lived up to the contract, a few others extended a term in good faith believing they still had unfinished business, but a good number enjoyed the perks and the feeling of power and thought they would enjoy a forty year reign as did the Democrats they ousted in 1994.

    Comment by Roberto — August 29, 2010 @ 4:03 pm - August 29, 2010

  15. I like the idea of a written contract or road map for where the Republicans would differ from the leftists.
    I also agree that I’ve not a lot of confidence in the Republican establishment to accomplish that. Give me Ryan, Cantor, Rubio, Christie, Palin, Jindal, Pence, Toomey and you can have McConnell, Beihner, and the entrenced Republican elites. New ideas, new tactics as well are needed.

    Comment by Gene in Pennsylvania — August 29, 2010 @ 4:50 pm - August 29, 2010

  16. We know that should we again stray from the small-government policies, you can — and likely will — do the same.”

    Its groundhog day all over again.

    Comment by JS — August 29, 2010 @ 5:48 pm - August 29, 2010

  17. I do hope that the Republican brand can become more popular. I do think though that there might be certain characteristics of conservatives to view the Republican party negatively or cynically even as they reliably vote for it. Conservatives, especially small-government conservatives, are by nature not enthused with government playing a role in our lives. For the most part, our ideal elected representative is someone who goes to Washington to get other elected representatives to leave us alone. Democrats, on the other hand, generally like the idea of an elected representative going to Washington to increase the power and scope of government. It’s harder for us to be excited by someone in government because we aren’t fans of government in the way liberals are. Also, I don’t think loyal Republican voters are anywhere near as likely to view being a Republican as part of who they are as Democratic voters are likely to associate themselves with the Democratic party. For many Democrats, because of what ethnic group or union or other subgroup they are in, they embrace the Democratic party. Republicans, I think, are much more likely to keep their party at arm’s length. As a result of these characteristics, I think Republicans are more likely to have a fickle view of their party.

    This is not to say there aren’t many reasons for us to be disappointed with our party as a whole and individuals within the party. The GOP ignores public dissatisfaction with it at its own peril. Even so, I do think it’s possible to make too much of Dem vs. GOP popularity. I think we on the Republican side just have a lot more people who are chronically dissatisfied with both parties, not just because the Republican party is flawed but because I think a lot of conservatives are just predisposed to not be fans of politicians. If this were not so, I don’t see how we win so many elections.

    Comment by chad — August 29, 2010 @ 6:03 pm - August 29, 2010

  18. One thing I would say regarding Eric Cantor, Laura Ingraham, and Obamacare—I do think some people, like Laura Ingraham (of whom I am a fan) are a little too quick to jump on other conservatives (in this case, Eric Cantor) over differences that are, I think, much smaller than imagined. If I were an elected Republican, would I be in favor of repealing Obamacare? Absolutely. No Republicans ultimately voted for Obamacare’s final passage. But I do think Republicans should be allowed to have some strategic disagreements over the best way to go about things. Obama will still be president in 2011 and 2012. Might there be a political benefit to trying to repeal Obamacare, even if it isn’t successful while Obama is still in office? Sure. Is there anything wrong or cynical about trying to repeal it before a repeal can be successfully accomplished? No. However, I think it’s important to consider not just what can be done symbolically but what can actually be achieved. Defunding much of Obamacare and challenging Obamacare in court can be accomplished while Obama is still in office. Actually repealing Obamacare will require either a Republican to take back the White House or 2/3 of both houses to override a veto. Neither of these things can really happen until after 2012. Sure, the public can put even more pressure on Obama and Democrats to repeal Obamacare, but they’ve already proven they don’t care what the public thinks. I’m all for passion, but I’m also for being straightforward about political realities. The GOP should have a bold vision, but that vision should also be realistic.

    Comment by chad — August 29, 2010 @ 6:28 pm - August 29, 2010

  19. Listening to this back and forth I recall the media type that when watching Barry Goldwater’s acceptance speech for the Rep nomination for President in 64 said, “Oh my God. He’s going to run AS Barry Goldwater.” I would submit that if the republicans run as republicans that truly believe in LIMITED government and restoration of the balance between the government and the people that is ALL the contract needs to be.

    Comment by Delusional Bill — August 29, 2010 @ 6:55 pm - August 29, 2010

  20. One other thing though Republicans shouldn’t forget the rotten corruption of this latest crop of liberal Democrats.
    DRUDGE is breaking another Democrat is going to be charged.
    Her defense….”I’m not a crook, I’m ignorant…”

    Comment by Gene in Pennsylvania — August 29, 2010 @ 7:51 pm - August 29, 2010

  21. Like helio, the GOP is the only place I have to go… but, pessimist that I am, I don’t hold out a lot of hope.

    An item on Drudge the other day reported on the number of investigations the GOP was ready to unleash on the White House. Well, crap.

    If there’s criminal malfeasance then, fine, let the FBI do its job (and get rid of Holder if need be).

    But for crying out loud – we are in trouble. The last thing an increasingly stressed citizenry needs to see is more score-settling, congressional grandstanding, and show trials that look exactly like what the Dems do.

    Another load of the same-old-poop may well seal our doom.

    Comment by SoCalRobert — August 29, 2010 @ 7:57 pm - August 29, 2010

  22. Gene, it worked for Sebelius.

    Comment by ThatGayConservative — August 29, 2010 @ 7:59 pm - August 29, 2010

  23. I’m certainly for a “Contract With America Redux”, but I think it should be even more sharp and heavy handed, and should be used as a 24/7 litmus test for every Republican elected, for every vote cast. No one strays off of the reservation. No one claiming to support “limited government” votes for pork in their own State, or else they face national shame and a guaranteed primary challenge next time around.

    I fear all of the career GOP’ers will just pull a “McCain”–go hard right during the primaries and back to the RINO enclosure once they secure the nomination. I still get McCain’s spam emails, and I consider each one a well calculated lie. “Maverick”… Right of center when a Democrat is in the White House, veering leftward if a conservative holds the highest office.

    What we really need is a TRUE CONSERVATIVE on the White House. Not a Big-Tent-Big-Govmint-vote-buying centrist. Obama will crash and burn, but if all we get is a RINO/Dem-Lite centrist, it will all be for nothing. That’s my biggest fear–not that the GOP will win in 2012, but that it won’t actually matter.

    FWIW, I live in Illinois, so my vote is pretty much negated by the Chicago Democrat election apparatus, but I have to admit that I did NOT vote for McCain/Palin in 2008. I had to “throw away” my vote and cast it for Baldwin of the Constitution Party as a means to express my disgust for the party nominating a RINO. I don’t support 100% of it, but the bulk of ithe Constitution Party platform would make a great first draft of the “Contract With America II”. A heck of a lot closer to the mark than the party that brought us TARP.

    Comment by disfrontman — August 29, 2010 @ 9:25 pm - August 29, 2010

  24. EDIT: I should add that if I were in a State in play in 2008 (not Obama’s home State), I probably would have held my nose and voted McCain/Palin. The fact that my vote didn’t actually matter either way is what allowed me to vote for a candidate and platform far closer to my own convictions.

    Comment by disfrontman — August 29, 2010 @ 9:28 pm - August 29, 2010

  25. disfrontman,

    I live in Virginia and therefore, I held my nose and voted McCain. Then I had a session with Mr. Jack, not to celebrate, but to be a crying drunk.

    Comment by heliotrope — August 30, 2010 @ 8:39 am - August 30, 2010

  26. I believe it was Julie who posted “Vote for Palin/Cranky old guy 2008!”

    If the Republicans put together a contract with America 2.0 I think it needs to be an adult contract, that things are going to be tough, but we can’t build today on our children’s future. We’ve had a mess for 50 odd years and the bills are coming due *now*. We have to cut back now, so our children will have a future. Just like when you have an unexpected expence as a home owner, you have to compensate somewhere else.

    Comment by The_Livewire — August 30, 2010 @ 8:46 am - August 30, 2010

  27. Chad at #18 notes:

    I do think some people, like Laura Ingraham (of whom I am a fan) are a little too quick to jump on other conservatives (in this case, Eric Cantor) over differences that are, I think, much smaller than imagined.

    You are undoubtedly right.

    However, Laura pinned Cantor’s ears back and I hope a lot of the spin and skate crowd took notice. My point is that these guys need to be kept alert to who they work for and that the taffy pull is over.

    Unfortunately, when you are inside the Beltway, you party with the gods. When you leave, you steal airline food like Tom Foley.

    Comment by heliotrope — August 30, 2010 @ 1:47 pm - August 30, 2010

  28. Yet I don’t know why the Patriots insists that America makes another contract with the same party that broke their previous contract.

    It would be like buying another car from a dealer that sold you a lemon before.

    Doesn’t make sense.

    Comment by JS — August 31, 2010 @ 4:27 am - August 31, 2010

  29. Hmm, broken contract, or broken promises (most ethical congress evah) and broken country.

    Sounds like a good option to me.

    Comment by The_Livewire — August 31, 2010 @ 6:45 am - August 31, 2010

  30. JS, you know what this country needs? We need a Democrat Congress and a Democrat President that just vacation a lot and stop all the “this and that” foolishness on Capitol Hill. Look at all the time and bother it took to deem Obamacare as done. Send the Republicans home and lay stuff on the American people and the economy by fiat and whim.

    The President or a Disney automaton President will just appear and inform the little people what is coming their way next. No explanations needed or considered.

    Fundamental transformation does not need to be bogged down and gooped up with archaic representative democracy. Captain Social Justice will lead us to where he wants to leave us.

    Comment by heliotrope — August 31, 2010 @ 9:12 am - August 31, 2010

  31. heliotrope. let’s not forget that by JS’s logic that the Democrats want to drag us to Soviet Russia sicne they canvas with a socialist.

    Comment by The_Livewire — August 31, 2010 @ 9:46 am - August 31, 2010

  32. Haven’t any of you heard of the 2010 “Contract From America”?

    Call whomever is running in your area and push them to sign on to this thing before the election!

    Comment by Stephen R — August 31, 2010 @ 12:40 pm - August 31, 2010

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