I remember writing in my journal in November 1994 that I thought I would never live to see conservative principles rewarded with victory on a nationwide basis in a non-Presidential election year, but as the spirit of the Contract with America swept the Gingrich-led revolution to Republican control of the House and Senate that year, one had the feeling that the 73 House freshmen who came to Washington in January 1995 would form the leadership core to sustain a long-term transformation of guiding principles—viva la revolution! Well, it lasted twelve years, or at least it hung on for that long, since the cracks have been in evidence for quite some time. Now, in the immediate aftermath of this election, one wonders whether the Republicans have completely undermined the revolution or if this is a one-time blip induced by mismanagement of a controversial war. I think it is a lot of the latter, but could also be much of the former, and the answer to the question of whether or not the spirit of ’94 can be restored will depend on how quickly the party can regain its soul and its Reagan roots. There is considerable evidence in the voting patterns that the country hasn’t abandoned its essential conservatism, but the Republican leadership certainly has. As Dick Armey has often said, “when we act like us, we win; when we act like them, we lose.”
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