Needed: a new breed

By Jim H. Hill Jr.
web posted November 1998

Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, is to be commended for doing the honorable thing and resigning from his position of leadership. The Republicans suffered a rude awakening during the last election. Voters said in a few hours what many conservatives have been trying to tell Republicans for months. "If you want to win our hearts and minds, you have to stand for something." For the past few years Republicans have lost sight of who they are and have stopped doing the things that got their conservative core excited in the first place.

Take a look at some of the issues on which the Republicans campaigned. The Republican congressional candidate in my district (who lost) and my Republican senator campaigning for reelection (who also lost) campaigned with near identical positions on issues relating to Social Security, Education, and Taxes. The issues weren't the problem. The problem was the positions they
were taking.

Take the first issue, Social Security. "Save Social Security" was one of the mantras. Stop and think about this. Is this something a conservative really wants to do? Rephrase this slogan to its true meaning. "Continue the unconstitutional practice of using the strong arm of big government to force workers to enter into and continue in a retirement pyramid scheme." No one would dare campaign using this phraseology, but can anyone tell me the difference between this and the slogan the GOP candidates used? The fact is, Social Security is a product of big government politicians who chose to ignore the Constitution and devise a way for constituents to feed each other via the public trough. Republicans need to do what is right and proudly proclaim the truth of the matter. Unfortunately, the Libertarians have beaten us to the punch and have provided the optimal solution: Phase out Social Security. Sell unconstitutional government assets (some estimates place them as high as $12 trillion) and buy annuities to honor commitments made to those currently in the program and who choose to stay. Free everyone else from it completely.

However, until Republicans hear public opinion polls tell them that is the direction to go, it will never happen. There's a Catch-22 to this. Until Republicans start talking about it and stirring up the issue, public opinion polls will never be taken on it -- which is just one of the many problems of governing by polls. The GOP must start the process as a matter of principle and stop trying to offer a better version of the Democrats' agenda, which they have done not only with Social Security but with health care, Medicaid, Medicare, and many other government programs that were meant to be solutions to problems which were largely government-created.

The Education issue is the mother of all government-created problems. Every year, the educational establishment graduates millions of new liberal voters who have been programmed to look to the government to supply their needs. Care to guess how they vote? Why in the world do Republicans keep falling for phony educational issues such as smaller class sizes, more teachers, and block grants to states? Pick up a copy of the Constitution and look for the word "education" or "school." You won't find either. Why? The Founders, in their wisdom, knew that a government that had any controls whatsoever over the educational process of children was a government that could eventually enslave its citizens. The federal government should, therefore, in keeping with its Constitutional mandate, have no role at all in education. None. And no GOP candidate running for a federal office has any business advocating "better schools" which implies a continued federal involvement. Let the states decide
how to handle education. Until Republicans learn and "sell" this concept, we will continue to force ourselves to fund and aid our opposition with tax dollars -- all in the name of trying to appear as though we "care."

Which brings us to tax reform. In the early part of this election season, Republicans were chanting, "Abolish the IRS!" This by itself was phony enough -- as long as you have an income tax, you're going to have an IRS of some type. If we were serious, our motto would have been, "Abolish the income tax." Later in the campaign the buzz phrase evolved into, "Reform the IRS!"
Another version of it went something like, "End the IRS," but added the condition, "as we know it." What's wrong with this picture? First, it's disingenuous. We knew from the beginning that we couldn't abolish the IRS for reasons just stated. Also, we're talking about a congress that couldn't even end the National Endowment for the Arts, in spite of many campaign promises to the contrary. This same congress heard testimony after testimony of the many abuses of power the IRS has perpetrated on citizens, yet, approved the largest funding ever for this agency which included several hundred thousand dollars for the acquisition of additional handguns, shotguns, and submachine guns. Does this sound like "abolishing" or even "reforming" the IRS? I have to hand it to them, it DOES sound like ending the IRS "As we know it!"

There are many other issues that resonate well, not only with the GOP's core constituents, but most Americans. If we would only capitalize on them and apply the Constitutionality test to our solutions, we would find ourselves taking the moral high ground more often than not and the American people would see our opposition fighting against the Constitution instead of some "mean-
spirited Republicans."

So, what's the answer? Obviously, what is needed is not merely a change in drivers -- what is needed is a change in direction. For too long the GOP has embraced big government socialism. All we've had in recent elections was a choice between conservative socialism from the Republicans and liberal socialism from the Democrats. No wonder 3rd, 4th, and 5th parties are forming all over the nation. What we saw happen in Minnesota with Jesse "The Body/The Mind" Ventura may not be a fluke, but a new trend as a result of voter frustration.

What is needed in the Republican Party is a new breed, yet something that is not so new after all. In fact, what is needed is the old breed. The "Spirit of '76" version that will boldly campaign, fight for, and stay committed to sound ideology that is backed by the Constitution -- the document to which newly elected officials will swear an oath to defend their first day on the job, but will never read and obey. Some will say that defending the truth is an extremist position that will cost Republicans future elections. I, on the other hand, find it to be a far superior position than losing elections through compromise.

Pat Buchanan told us in 1992 that the GOP was in a cultural war, struggling for its own soul. Today, six years later, the war rages on and casualties are mounting. If the GOP continues this politics-by-polls, touchy-feely style of campaigning and governing, we can expect continued defection of our base supporters to the Reform, Libertarian, and Taxpayer parties. We can also kiss the White House good-bye in 2000. The 1998 elections, and corresponding Speaker resignation, will either be just another crack in that ever crumbling foundation or the wake up call needed to invigorate a slumbering giant. The choice is with the GOP.

Jim Hill can be reached at

Current Issue

Archive Main | 1998

E-mail ESR




1996-2020, Enter Stage Right and/or its creators. All rights reserved.