A Washington Post story details the challenges that face the Republican party as it struggles to define a clear national message for the 2006 elections. The article presents a few issues that the party is split on, including immigration, out of control spending, and things like that. Of greater interest to me, though, is the viewpoint put forth in this quote:
Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) said the root of the problem is a failure of Washington Republicans to stick to principles, saying that his party risks losing power because it has done “a pretty poor job” of executing its small-government philosophy. “Republicans just need to take stock, go back and realize that the American people elected them because of their principles, and when you do not adhere to those principles, the American people are just as likely to turn you out and choose someone else.”
I would contend that Perry’s assertion that “Americans elected” Republicans “because of their principles” is not altogether true. Thinking back to the 2004 elections, Republicans touted primarily their foreign policy and defense principles, not their domestic or fiscal management principles. It had become pretty clear by that point that deficits weren’t going to be seriously addressed by this administration. So I think the problem, for Republicans, sprung to an extent from the continuing difficulty in Iraq coupled with a sense that they have dropped the ball on securing our borders and ports. These were the issues that they ran on, and the people are not pleased. To claim that the voters embraced the entire GOP agenda is simply not accurate, as the Social Security fiasco demonstrated.
In light of that, I was amused by this herculean spin effort on the part of Ken Mehlman:
“If you are someone who favors small government,” Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman said, “you’re going to have a clear choice between someone who has cut taxes every year in office, who believes you ought to own your own health care . . . and who plans to cut the deficit over five years versus people who have consistently supported more spending, have opposed tax cuts and who oppose patients owning their own health care. The question is, who’s on your side for reducing the size of government?”
Only one of those choices involves a coherent strategy, and it is the Democratic one. It doesn’t make sense to cut taxes and claim that will cut the deficit. Democrats, meanwhile, oppose reducing government revenue and support using the revenue to help the citizens. Americans don’t want a reduced government, and that is not what they voted Republicans into office to do. They voted them into office so that the Republicans would save them from the terrorists. Apparently, America thinks they aren’t getting it done.