Saturday, January 27, 2007

Verdin on Republicans

Sen. Danny Verdin, a founding member of the Wm Wallace Caucus, sent a letter to the Greenville News:

Voters rejected Republicans, not Republican values By Danny Verdin

The 2006 elections certainly sent a message to Republicans across America. Voters undeniably said, "We don't like what you are dong." The key to the message, however, is the definition of "what."

Contrary to popular opinion, previously Republican voters are neither frustrated nor fed up with Republicans fulfilling the promises they previously made. Instead, they are fed up with the abandonment of those conservative principles Republicans once embraced.

The following few facts illustrate the unfortunate disregard with which elected Republicans treated their promises of merely a decade ago. Federal spending has increased 69 percent since 1994 and 49 percent since 2001 alone. Federal spending sat at 23 percent of national income in 1993, just before the Republican takeover. It fell consistently through the 1990s, but it rose again until it reached 23 percent again last year, the year of the Democrat takeover.

Individual earmarks, i.e. pork projects, in the federal budget have increased eightfold since 1994. The rudest example of such waste is the infamous "Bridge to Nowhere" in Alaska, which would cost $223 million to link a town of 14,500 people to a town of 50; yes, that's one more than 49. Such spending surely belies Republicans in control -- but they were.

Congressional Republicans also imploded on the ethics front. Tom Delay, former majority leader, resigned in the wake of indictments for bribery. Randy Cunningham, member of the House Appropriations defense subcommittee, accepted millions of dollars in bribes to secure defense contracts for his benefactors. He even kept a price list for his favors.

While uber-lobbyist Jack Abramoff had plenty of connections on both sides of the aisle, he also served as chairman of the Republican College National Committee on his way to the top. His misadventures led directly to the resignation of Ohio Rep. Bob Ney. Don Sherwood of Pennsylvania actually taped a television commercial to admit he had an extramarital affair but never choked his lover as had been alleged.

Finally, of course, we suffered Mark Foley and his sexually explicit text messages to congressional pages. Delay, Cunningham, Ney and Foley all signed the Contract with America. When they broke it, supporters terminated their services.

Finally, Republicans simply abandoned the principle of limited government too many times. The prescription drug bill will cost taxpayers $1.2 trillion over the next decade, not $400 billion as originally promised, and it was passed by a House leadership that held open a vote for six hours and promised campaign contributions to recalcitrant Republican members. The campaign finance reform legislation clearly abrogated the first amendment right to free speech and moved us one step closer to government control of elections.

The No Child Left Behind Act injected the federal government into local education systems to a frightening degree, and it was passed by the same party that less than a decade before promised to eliminate the federal education bureaucracy.

This election turned not on the voters' embrace of ideas offered by Democrats but the voters' rejection of Republicans who abandoned them. Examples appeared across the country. The Virginia marriage amendment received 1.3 million votes, and the initiative to expand property tax relief received 1.4 million votes. Republican George Allen received 1.1 million votes and lost by less than 10,000. Montana, in 2004, passed its marriage amendment by a 2-to-1 margin with 294,000 yes votes. In 2006, Montanans ousted Republican Conrad Burns, tainted by close ties to Jack Abramoff, when merely 194,000 voters stuck with him. Conservatives voted for their issues and their candidates. Without a choice, they simply passed.

The evidence clearly proves that conservative issues and candidates win. Mark Sanford, for instance, not only talked like a conservative but ran on his inarguable record as one, and he won by 11 percentage points. Elsewhere, Arizona voted to make English the official state language by a 3-to-1 margin. Colorado rejected the legalization of marijuana by a 60-40 margin. Michigan voted to restrict affirmative action by a 58-42 margin. Ohio rejected its Republican incumbent senator by 12 percentage points and simultaneously rejected the legalization of slot machines by 13 percentage points.

When Republican officeholders, the ones who survived, return to their desks in Washington, D.C., or Columbia, S.C., in the coming days, they reject the message of their constituency at their own peril. Limited government, individual freedom and less spending, far less, remain the foundational principles that Republican voters expect action upon. Further failure by elected Republicans not only jeopardizes their careers but also the future of us all.