Take heed, Republicans - The alarms have been sounded!
By Paul M. Weyrich
John Gizzi, veteran Political Editor of the conservative weekly Human Events, normally is an optimist. Over the years I have watched him find the one possible thread to explain the rationale for the election of a conservative Republican. John knows more about politics than any ten political junkies combined have forgotten. If there is a way to see a possibility for a Republican victory Gizzi makes the case. And that is as it should be inasmuch as he is writing to give conservatives hope. He and his paper's message are always the same: "Shoulder on."
You can imagine my shock and surprise when Gizzi, writing in the current week's edition, makes the case that Democrats just might win enough swing seats in the House and could topple enough Senators to regain control of the Congress for the first time since 1994.
I can tell you, if the e-mail and snail-mail traffic I receive is any indication, lots and lots of people are telling me they do not intend to vote in the 2006 election. Others are saying they will vote for third-party candidates. I hear that every election. Little comes of it. But staying at home is a huge problem for Republicans. To say that the grassroots are discouraged is an understatement. It is not difficult to understand why. Our movement is comprised of hard working men and women who find it tough to make ends meet and who labor at raising a family. When they don't have enough money to buy what they want they largely go without. Then they look at the government. It spends and spends and spends.
Not doing without at the federal level is unheard of. No veto of an over-the-budget spending bill. In my earliest years being a part of the grassroots I well recall how demoralized Republicans were following the election defeat of 1958. Then President Dwight D. Eisenhower began to veto bills - one after the other after the other. All but one of the dozens upon dozens of Eisenhower vetoes were sustained. That so boosted the morale of grassroots Republicans that Vice President Richard M. Nixon nearly won (and probably actually did win) the 1960 election. The same for President Gerald R. Ford. Had President Ford not vetoed all of those over-the-budget spending bills Ronald W. Reagan would have been the GOP nominee in 1976. Again those vetoes almost enabled Ford to be elected that year despite an inept campaign and an equally inept candidate.
Where are the vetoes of 2006? The President has said he doesn't want to argue with a Republican Congress. Why not? I am sure JFK, LBJ, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton didn't want to argue with Democratic-controlled Congresses. But they vetoed measures. If President George W. Bush were to veto every appropriations bill which exceeded his budget for 2006 the grassroots again well might become energized and enthused.
And there is the matter of immigration. Conservatives are deeply split on the issue. Heck, the new Majority Leader, Representative John A. Boehner (R-OH), has a radically different approach from Majority Whip, Roy Blunt (R-MO). One view as to which conservatives absolutely are united is the securing of our borders. Representative J.D. Hayworth (R-AZ) says we don't have any real clue who is coming across our Southern border night after night. The President is insisting upon a link between securing the borders and having some sort of guest-worker program. In theory he may be correct. But conservatives want none of it until we have a handle on illegal immigration.
Bush ought just to drop until after the mid-term elections any demand for his guest-worker deal. He says it is not amnesty. In politics perception is reality. That part of his program is perceived by the voting public as amnesty. If you don't want to see a Democratic Congress, Mr. President, put it aside for now.
And the war. The President and the Vice President insist we are winning. Perhaps we are. Again, perception is reality. The perception is that the situation is way out of control. Not only are our brave men and women maimed and killed by roadside bombs day after day but not a day goes by without suicide bombers blowing up hundreds of innocent Iraqis. Rational people are asking, "How is this governable?" Yes, we have elections and yes, voter participation has increased each time elections have been held. Yes, there now is some sort of government, if it can be sorted out. Americans are, fortunately and unfortunately, an impatient people (as opposed to the Chinese, for example, who think in terms of centuries rather than the next quarter hour).
When are Americans coming home? I surely do not wish to do anything which will further endanger our troops. However, if the perception is that their role is reduced, if Iraqi soldiers truly are taking their place, in other words, if there is a light at the end of the tunnel, Americans may modify their feelings that the Iraqi War was a major mistake. If so, Republicans may do a bit better than expected. If in the autumn we continue to hear the same new we are hearing now displeasure will be exercised at the polls.
I nearly had come to the conclusion that there were few reasons I could offer to anyone who asked why conservatives should be supported. Now that I have had an opportunity to reflect upon that question, which I regularly am asked, at this point it boils down to two reasons. First, there is the Federal Judiciary. Justice Clarence Thomas told me at the White House swearing in of Justice Samuel J. Alito, Jr., "He [Alito] never would have made it through a Judiciary Committee controlled by liberals." He is absolutely correct.
President Bush continues to appoint high caliber judges to the Courts of Appeal. Just this past week the President nominated for the Fifth Circuit Pickering seat Michael B. Wallace, who is brilliant, solid as a rock and a pillar of integrity. Some, despite the Gang of Fourteen, yet may be filibustered. A Senate with conservative leadership and a sufficient number of objective Senators can change the rules and get these folks confirmed by a simple majority, up-or-down vote, as the procedure historically has been, and should continue to be.
The second reason can be reduced to a single word. Impeachment. Right now leftist Members of the House are meeting regularly with outside groups such as Moveon.org and are preparing for impeachment. It looked bizarre, too, when Father Robert F. Drinan (D-MA) and a handful of others, such as John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI), in 1972 similarly were planning for the impeachment of President Nixon. When the moment of truth came they were ready.
I am here to tell you that if Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is Speaker of the House come next year George W. Bush will be impeached. It just takes a majority. There still is residual anger over the impeachment of President Clinton. I may have differences with President Bush (it is difficult to forgive his having signed McCain-Feingold, which is causing so many problems relating to free speech) but still I do not want to see the country, especially during a time of war, go through impeachment. It would tear America apart and give aid and comfort to our enemies.
Perhaps you haven't heard it before. Well, you have now. Impeachment. Coming your way if there are changes in who controls the House eight months from now. If the President and Congress get their act together, and with the possibility of another Supreme Court appointment in the background, and impeachment on the horizon, maybe, just maybe, conservatives would not stay at home after all. John Gizzi would not mind one bit having sounded the alarm.
Paul M. Weyrich is the Chairman and CEO of the Free Congress Foundation.
Get weekly updates about new issues of ESR!