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Just before boarding my flight, I had a chance to participate in a blog conference call with Rep. Jack Kingston about the effects of the midterm loss. Kingston, who came to Congress in 1992, is one of the few Republicans to have operated in the minority. Here are my unedited notes from the call, which I had to leave early.
He appreciates what’s going on in the blogs. He thinks that we have learned a lesson which we shouldn’t have had to do the hard way. You have to deliver on the name brand, which is clean government, competence, and fiscal responsibility. In 1994, we got elected on the Contract with America, and showed the American people that we would follow up on those promises.
We got a little too used to holding the gavel. We started using spending to shore up weak districts, and that horse-trading led to even more spending. The failure of self-discipline started with the leadership. It also led to the scandals; we lost six seats from self-imposed problems. A number of retirements created a twelve-seat lead to the Democrats.
This left the GOP vulnerable on Iraq. The GOP lost the trust of the American people on the small and not-so-small stuff, and so they failed to trust Republicans on the bigger issues.
He doesn’t see how the Democrats can hold majorities on major issues. Too many conservative Democrats got elected.
He sees the next Congress as kicking many cans down the road. There’s no Democratic mandate, and there’s no mandate for fiscal conservatism either (Shays returns, Ryun, Gutknecht et all exit). He thinks it will be very difficult for the Democrats to pass appropriations, as they will have a lot of IOUs to pay off.
Kingston has no preferences on new leadership. The GOP has to recover from the shell-shock, and then the calls will start. He believes that new leadership will arise from the loss. He’s not willing to endorse anyone at this point; he wants to see what shakes out. Kingston wants to have a conversation about what happened first before they can start working on picking leaders. He thinks Republicans will be split on whether they spent too much or too little.
Will there be a new central plan, a la Contract with America? Not sure. The climate was different then. There aren’t a lot of obvious issues. Newer members will not comprehend the magnitude to the loss, and they need to learn what it means to be part of the minority. He sees their role as activists.
He sees the blogging community as a rallying point for that activism. Put simply, the Republicans will not be as relevant in the Beltway as they were before. They will have to go outside the Beltway in order to organize effectively.Sphere It View blog reactions
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» The Fat Lady Has Sung from Conservative Musings
Sooo much has taken place from yesterday through today that it's taken me all day just to catch my breath. And to make sense of it all. So many folks have talked, wrote, and otherwise discussed the whipping conservatives took [Read More]
Tracked on November 8, 2006 8:24 PM
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