October 13, 2007

CLC 07: John Shadegg

John Shadegg addresses the CLC after an introduction by Rep. Dean Heller (R-NV), who sat on yesterday's 2008 prognostication panel with me. Heller calls Shadegg a "true exception" to the stereotype of politicians who lose their way once they get to Washington. I met with Rep. Shadegg earlier this morning, and I found him very approachable, humble, and gracious, so that description seems particularly apt.

Shadegg starts off by returning the compliment, asking the audience to keep sending Congress more Dean Hellers. He says we need more Western conservatives, more independent thinkers. He also complimented the CLC organizers for sticking to their guns and holding the conference this far outside of DC.

Republicans win when they run as the party of ideas. Two basic concepts of government are in conflict. One believes that people are not bright enough to make their own decisions, take responsibility for their own lives, and therefore government has to run their lives. Shaddeg calls this a form of slavery. Republicans, when they run on the basic conflict, have a different concept of the individual, one that was demonstrated correct in the welfare-reform effort that removed millions of people from the dole and made them productive citizens.

The 1994 revolution had the greatest percentage of first-time office holders at any level. That freed them from the thought that government should provide all solutions to everyday ills. For two years, the Republicans managed to keep government growth flat -- but unfortunately, the momentum for freezing or reducing government halted, and government began growing again. The government shutdown proved to be Waterloo.

When they reached DC in 1994, people warned that the Beltway would change them, and not the other way around. Shadegg says they were proven right; they became the party of Jack Abramoff and earmarks. The culture of corruption eroded their credibility and their efficacy. Freshman Republicans were told to spend 98% of their time raising money, and to load up on earmarks for their home districts.

"There is no amount of money in the world that will elect a party without principles." By 2006, the Republicans became the Washington they intended to defeat in 1994.

That doesn't mean that the American public has suddenly turned leftward. Americans didn't want massive tax increases, nor do they want massive new spending. They want an end to politicians acting for themselves rather than for their constituents. The Republicans had made it clear that the current set of officeholders had failed in that, and it made all the difference.

The freshman Democrats are not Leftists, and that will be undoing of Democratic leadership. Shadegg says that Pelosi and her leadership represent the far Left of her party -- and that's the opportunity Republicans have. Unfortunately, that message has not sunk into the psyche of the GOP leadership. It will take loud demands from CLC and other conservatives to get them to wake up to that opportunity to win control of Congress again.

We still have to clean our own house first. Republicans need to exemplify a standard of conduct that will allow them to regain the trust of the electorate. That means abandoning incumbents who act unethically. It means real reform, real transparency, and a thorough house-cleaning that will set an example the Democrats simply won't meet.

Shadegg hits Democrats especially hard on earmark reform. They have championed a process that will only make earmarks transparent after they spend the money. Without transparency, earmarks and their corrosive effects cannot be stopped. They will still have the ability to manipulate the voters and Congress through the exploitation of taxpayers funds.

Shadegg spent a long time talking about the expansion of S-CHIP. He talks about the fact that the $30 billion expansion will wind up paying for millions of adults. In Arizona, they have 110,000 adults on S-CHIP, 85,000 of which were childless. Shadegg says that the program is a "fraud", a term he used on the floor of the House. It's not exclusively for children, it's not exclusive to the poor or near-poor, and it seeks to cover many who already have insurance, which will undermine the private industry coverage they already have.

Instead, Shadegg supports the tax-credit plan that Republicans proposed as an alternative. He says that supports freedom, instead of top-down government control. It allows people to work as individuals to act in their own interest, since they understand that need better than anyone else. The Republicans can capture the votes of Americans who believe they can act in their own interest more effectively than government-compulsion programs preferred by Hillary Clinton and the Democrats.

Shadegg is a very effective speaker, and he has everyone's attention. I haven't heard him speak in person before, and I'm very impressed. Sean Hackbarth called the speech "further confirmation that the Republicans chose the wrong leadership," and although I think John Boehner has done a good job, it's hard not to draw that conclusion.


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Comments (7)

Posted by onlineanalyst | October 13, 2007 3:46 PM

Captain Ed,
It must be energizing to hear so many terrific conservative thinkers in one venue. You have provided an invaluable service in relaying the messages of these speakers so well.

Posted by starfleet_dude | October 13, 2007 3:55 PM

I wonder if Shadegg had anything to do with this:

Bipartisanship on SCHIP!*

I'd ask how much lower Republicans can go, but what's the point?

Posted by patrick neid | October 13, 2007 4:00 PM

...."chose the wrong leadership" !!!

What leadership? While repubs may be doing some of the right things inside the beltway the public perception of them is non existent. Trent Lott?

Every day Pelosi and crew pontificate with "howlers" and there are no effective counter punches from repubs. As a party the leadership is embarrassing. Name me one well spoken Senator or Congressman who shows up on a daily or weekly basis to counterman the constant dribble that spews from dems. Meanwhile Bush tells every one how wonderful the dems really are despite their mistaken goals--akin to the reasoning when he says Islam is a religion of peace. Jeez.

Rudy gets my vote if for no other reason than his counter punching.

Posted by La Mano | October 13, 2007 5:30 PM

I know John a bit and he is a terrific guy. You can count on him to be a consistent, effective leader.

Posted by the tapper | October 13, 2007 6:11 PM

patrick,,,you are spot on......The current administration has been desimated by the constant yelling and baying of the democratic party. Bush listened and fired them all except for CondiThey haven't started on her yet. Mistakes were made,but my god..When is someone going to fight back with B-lls. When is someone on the hill going to call a spade a spade. On of the Generals who served in Iraq, Sanchez I believe,in a recent speech, told where the bear s--it in the woods. Although it was not reported in the media, he laid them out in lavender....putting the ball where it belonged in their court...although I did not read the whole speech, I hear he also said they has no long range plan, or something to that effect. I seriously doubt if the pentagon did not have multiple contingency plans so I don't know the context here....nough said,,,,I ramble....good post, Capt

Posted by Anon | October 13, 2007 6:35 PM

The repubs lost their way - no doubt about it. However, when the dems won congress they started off even worse and declined from there. Yet the message that seems to be reaching the voters is that repubs are evil and anyone who would vote for them is obviously subhuman and stupid (and hates babies. You don't hate babies...do you?) If the repubs can't come up with an effective communications strategy to inform voters what is going on wrt repubs vs dems, they may as well grab as many earmarks for themselves as they can. Most voters seem to have short memories. They will eventually vote the repubs back into power not because they spent their years in the minority fighting for freedom, small gov't, fiscal responsibility, etc. but because they can't stand the dems anymore.

Posted by Joshin | October 13, 2007 8:48 PM

I hope that Shaddegg decides to run for McCain's seat in the Senate. No, I'm not privy to any insider info, but I know I'd vote for him. :)

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