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"And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." - John 8:32
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Author:  Mike Bates
Bio: Mike Bates
Date:  November 2, 2006
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Republicans Had Their Chance and Blew It

If the polls are right, next week U.S. voters will place Democrats in control of the House of Representatives.

If the polls are right, next week U.S. voters will place Democrats in control of the House of Representatives.

The switch requires the turnover of only 15 congressional seats. Monday, one pollster predicted on national television that the Democratic sweep will be at least 25 seats and possibly 30 or more.

I doubt it. Public opinion surveys arenít always dependable. Back in 1980, experts were virtually unanimous in declaring the presidential election of incumbent Jimmy Carter and challenger Ronald Reagan ďtoo close to call.Ē

Gov. Reagan won by a margin of nearly ten percent of the popular vote. His Electoral College victory was even more decisive. Winning all but six states and D.C., he beat President Carter 10-to-1 in electoral votes.

Despite this yearís predictions, I cling to a belief Ė maybe itís more of a hope - that there wonít be a Democratic avalanche. Itís realistic, though, to anticipate theyíll secure enough victories to take control of the House.

That isnít good news, at least for this conservative whoís pulled the lever for only two Democrats in more than 30 years of voting. That wasnít because thereís something magic about the GOP. It was just that, almost without exception, Republicans field more conservative candidates than Democrats do.

Moreover, the Democratic leadership isnít merely liberal, but archliberal. Whether the issue is taxes, defense policy, abortion or terrorism, the folks holding key positions within the party are on the fringe.

A Democratic majority will be disastrous. Weíre going to pay a huge price for it, and not just fiscally.

Still, itís difficult to conclude that Republicans earned the right to stay in power. Many conservative voters, the ones who elected them, feel let down.

When the GOP took the House majority in 1995, after 40 years of minority status, hopes were bright. Finally, there were people in Washington prepared to slap a leash on the government behemoth.

They enjoyed initial success. With the exception of term limits, the entire Contract with America was passed. Sweeping welfare reform was eventually enacted despite Clintonís vetoes. (Of course, he later took credit for it.)

Then, in 1998, the seemingly impossible happened. The federal budget was, for the first time in almost 30 years, balanced.

It looked as though more achievements were inevitable if there were greater cooperation from the White House. So as George W. Bush assumed the presidency in 2001, there was an optimism.

Many conservatives have been disappointed. A major reason is that the GOP, once unarguably the party of fiscal prudence and limited government, appears to have adopted the squandering ways of their opponents. Last year, a Cato Institute analysis concluded that President George W. Bush, in terms of discretionary spending, has been an even bigger spender than Lyndon B. Johnson.

Congressional Republicans have been complicit in this ignominy. Theyíve shown that they are every bit as avaricious when it comes to pork as the legislators they replaced.

Another cause of discontent has been Congress doing precious little about illegal immigration. It doesnít matter how itís disguised, amnesty isnít acceptable to conservatives. A nation that canít control its borders canít control its future, yet it appears as though a significant number of Republicans are so fearful of losing Hispanic voters that theyíll stand by and do nothing.

Then there are the ethical problems. One Republican congressman was carted off to the hoosegow earlier this year for taking bribes. Another one will soon join him. Lobbyist Jack Abramhoff, it turned out, was a Democratic problem as well as one for the GOP, but that doesnít improve the situation.

Conservatives thought that Republicans would abide by a higher standard of ethical conduct. Corruption is expected from the likes of Jim Wright, Dan Rostenkowski, William Jefferson, the Clintons and other Democrats. That a few Republicans have stooped to the same level is a reminder of Lord Actonís famous dictum that absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Some conservatives are sitting this election out in disgust. Iím not. As bad as Republicans might be, theyíre still far superior to what Democrats have to offer.

The capability to truthfully assert that our guys arenít as bad as their guys doesnít engender enthusiasm among my brethren. Perhaps a couple of years of Nancy Pelosi and her leftwing associates will be enough to get the GOP to shape up and revitalize the revolution once advanced by Ronald Reagan.

Mike Bates

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Notes:  This appeared in the November 2, 2006 Reporter Newspapers.

Biography - Mike Bates

Mike Bates wrote a weekly column of opinion - or nonsense, depending on your viewpoint - for over 20 years. Additionally, his articles have appeared in the Congressional Record, the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Mensa Journal. He has been a guest on Milt Rosenberg's program on WGN Radio Chicago, the Bruce Elliott show on Baltimore's WBAL, the Jim Sumpter show on the USA Radio Network and the New Media Journal's Blog Radio. As a lad, Mike distributed Goldwater campaign literature and since then has steadily moved further to the Right. He is the author of "Right Angles and Other Obstinate Truths." In 2007, he won an Illinois Press Association award for Original Column


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