It appears that predictions of a new and long lasting Republican governing majority may have been premature and, in fact, if they don’t start acting like a majority party pretty soon on a range of issues, they won’t be one for very long! Of course, in any evaluation of policy priorities, there are big issues and small issues, issues that are transformational and those that are transactional. And it is the transformational issues that require principled leadership, significant expenditures of political capital, and, in many cases, absolute party discipline; here are some examples:
- The Bolton nomination to the UN—To lose a nomination such as this would send the message that aggressive reform initiatives on behalf of a conservative President and outspoken critique of the liberal international order represented by a corrupt and incompetent institution in dire need of serious reform are out of line and detrimental to one’s career.
- Social Security reform—There is a limited window of opportunity to completely change the seventy-year old social contract mindset from one of entitlement to one of ownership and move the national retirement system from an antiquated one based on defined benefit to a defined contribution system more aligned with the aspirations of ownership and inheritability. Personal accounts are transformational, salvaging the current system isn’t; let’s get on with it.
- Judicial appointment confirmations—Capitulation here will serve to perpetuate the perversion of the constitutional principle of advise and consent, enshrine a super-majority precedent for judicial nominees, send the message that elections have only limited consequences, and condone and accelerate the trend toward judicial supremacy in matters involving core moral and social issues.
- Permanent tax cuts—In the face of all the accumulated evidence of its success, it is amazing that we are still debating the wisdom of supply side economics as a primary driver of economic growth, and continue to subject ourselves to the intimidation and demagoguery of the various “fairness” arguments.
- Life and death issues—It is time to put to rest the questions of the creation of embryos for cloning and stem cell research and move forward on the implementation of the recommendations of the President’s Bioethics Council before the rapid advances of our science present us with a fait accompli and a perversion of what it means to be human.
- Tom Delay—His defense may seem marginal as a transformational issue, but if one of history’s better enforcers of party discipline for the conservative cause can be eliminated from leadership because of indiscretions that, however unsavory, are fairly typical and of minor consequence, it will have a chilling impact on like-minded legislative leaders who as a result might be less inclined to confront or ignore the liberal media elite and their fellow travelers for many years to come.
All of these have a price, and some say a few of them exact a price too high in terms of “comity” and political fallout, but my response is that the bigger price will be paid for failure to aggressively pursue the wedge issues that are critical to the base of the majority as well as the welfare of the country.