Yesterday, I mentioned the Republican Party's 1994 Contract with America and how the Republican Party, of which I am a member, has gradually moved away from the beliefs and goals of this statement.
So often we see people running for office, and they have strong convictions, and we vote for them, and we hope against hope that these are people who will actually do what they say and remain true to their campaign statements.
And time after time, we are disappointed. Once in office, candidates too often forget and abandon the principles and promises that got them elected because it is so much easier to go along than to stand up and remain faithful to the people who elected them.
Sadly, elected officials often know what is going on around them, but they prefer to look the other way---perfect examples on the national level are the Mark Foley (Republican) scandal and the Sandy Berger (Democrat) scandal.
And there are plenty of examples on the local level [see my posts (I-IV) of June 25] where officials know what is going on, but they will not authorize an investigation or even ask a question.
I will have much more on the local situation in future posts--because Hamblen County is rapidly moving toward a huge tax increase due to fiscal mismanagement, cover-ups, and waste.
But I digress. Back to the Contract with America. To me, the framework of the Contract with America is a stated plan--and a good one-- for an open and accountable government. And these conservative principles are good general guidelines on the state and local level as well.
FIRST, require all laws that apply to the rest of the country also apply equally to the Congress;
SECOND, select a major, independent auditing firm to conduct a comprehensive audit of Congress for waste, fraud or abuse;
THIRD, cut the number of House committees, and cut committee staff by one-third;
FOURTH, limit the terms of all committee chairs;
FIFTH, ban the casting of proxy votes in committee;
SIXTH, require committee meetings to be open to the public;
SEVENTH, require a three-fifths majority vote to pass a tax increase;
EIGHTH, guarantee an honest accounting of our Federal Budget by implementing zero base-
In looking back at the 2006 election, the Republican problem was one of forgetting conservative principles and wandering in a political wilderness, worrying about the next election instead of worrying about the country.
Republicans were punished not for their conservative principles, but because they abandoned their conservative principles and instead became tied to pork-barrel spending, personal scandals, no-bid contracts, political lobbying scandals, huge budget deficits, and an overall lack of accountability.
Basic conservative principles, the eight guiding principles of the Contract with America, were forgotten.
But with every cloud, there is a silver lining.
Republicans can return to the values, commitment, and passion that are embodied in the conservative cause or they can continue to wander aimlessly and wonder what happened.
And, no, the conservative cause is not the sole possession of Republicans. Democrats and Independents who believe that open, honest, and accountable government is best can, and do, advance conservatism.
Republicans don't "own" conservatism by any means, but over the years more Republicans than Democrats (especially at the leadership level) have been identified as conservatives.
In the final analysis, probably no one belongs totally and completely in a conservative or liberal box.
Many of the Democrats who won on November 7 tended to be more moderate and far less "liberal" than the Democrat leadership as exemplified by Nancy Pelosi, Ted Kennedy, Howard Dean, and others.
The 2006 election, on the national level, may be signaling a shift in the parties and in people. Liberals are becoming more moderate, and some of these moderates even show certain conservative tendencies at times, such as when they come out in favor of 2nd amendment rights and fiscal restraint.
Time will tell whether the newly-elected moderate Democrats are able to effect change in the liberal Democrat leadership or whether the Democrat leadership whips the new Representatives and Senators into the liberal mold.
Time will also tell whether the Republicans, after somber reflection, decide to return to their conservative roots and once again stand as a party of principle or whether the Contract with America was just so much fluff.
My prediction and my hope is that all Republicans will again stand on principle. And I salute those who never abandoned their principles.
I want to know where the parties really stand. And I want to see actions that match the words.