Congratulations to Steele, but now it is time for the RNC to get to work to take back the majority from the idiots like Pelosi, Reid, Obama, and the fools in the US Senate (more than any other political body) who are FUBARing this country. While much has been made about technology being a major difference in these elections, it is one aspect out of many that needs to be addressed, and not the biggest. The biggest is to bring the ideas back, and ideas do not come from Washington DC.
Part of the reason of the 1994 victories was put in place before the Contract with America. It didn't start with Rush Limbaugh or talk radio. It didn't start with the internet, then dominated by the right and/or libertarians. It didn't start with Newt Gingrich, although he was one of the major people responsible for the comeback. It started with reforms in state governments. John Engler and Tommy Thompson with their welfare reforms started the changes. In 1993, Virginia and New Jersey flipped in their gubenatorial elections.
In 1994, The GOP picked up 12 gubenatorial seats, in addition to its congressional victories. These pickups were in the South and West as one would think, but also in the Northeast. New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Connecticutt of all place. They also held in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. They held all their seats in the Upper Midwest at the time as well. Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Iowa, and Illinois. Now a lot can be be said for reasons of the changes since then, not the least of which (In Ohio and Illinois) were crooks in state government like George Ryan (Chicagoland politics is even more corrupt than Detroit and New Orelans) and Bob Taft. In off year elections, governors usually lead the ticket. That's the case in Michigan as well, which will be an open seat as Granholm is (thankfully) termed out. Those lead the way.
One thing I was not doing when Howard Dean was elected DNC chair was laughing. Most of the GOP was laughing at his 50 state strategy. I wasn't. Many democrats were cringing and said that Dean was wasting his time. I was also cringing, for a different reason. The problem I saw was too many followers in the GOP, and that leads to trouble and complacency. When the main principles of the GOP are supposed to be less government and more freedom, and when Bush is leading a big spending spree, trouble is on the horizon, and peaked with this stupid bailout. Much of the base stayed home in 2008.
What Steele and the RNC need to do is a simple, but three-fold strategy.
1. Keep the base. By keeping the base, I do not mean exclude the others that aren't part of the base, but without the base united, nothing will happen. The GOP can not under any circumstances become democrat lite nationally. Now I understand that certain people can not win in some areas on some social issues (which mostly should be left to the states - let California be California, Alabama be Alabama, and Ohio be Ohio), but the big spending, bailouts, and trash like that needs to come to the end, especially on the federal level.
2. Don't concede a damn thing. Candidates should be run everywhere, and should be supported everywhere. What the hell have the democrats done for Detroit over the last fifty years? They destroyed it, and it started with the "white progressives" running it. On the same note, what efforts have the Republicans made in Detroit to compete? Jackshit. They ran against Detroit, without having a plan for reforming Detroit. This isn't limited to Detroit. The GOP concedes most fights against incumbents before it starts. This is especially true in the Senate. It should be easy to run against senators. They, more than anyone else, screwed up this country, and have been around forever. There's no way North Dakota should have two democrat senators. There's also no way that 1/2 of the seats should have been conceded before things even started in 2006. Arkansas (Still locally very democrat) had no Republican candidate. A first termer had a free ride. That's unacceptable.
3. Ideas win. Campaigns should not begin and end with "They suck." Yes, they do suck, but that's not enough of a reason for the middle to vote against somebody. It did not work in 2004 for the dems, and it did not work in 2008 for the GOP. In 1994, a vote on these issues was promised - and delivered (Votes on issues happened, some didn't pass)- if the Republicans took control.
Going back in time
On the first day of the 104th Congress, the new Republican majority will immediately pass the following major reforms, aimed at restoring the faith and trust of the American people in their government:
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-line budgeting.
Thereafter, within the first 100 days of the 104th Congress, we shall bring to the House Floor the following bills, each to be given full and open debate, each to be given a clear and fair vote and each to be immediately available this day for public inspection and scrutiny.
1. THE FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY ACT: A balanced budget/tax limitation amendment and a legislative line-item veto to restore fiscal responsibility to an out- of-control Congress, requiring them to live under the same budget constraints as families and businesses. (Bill Text) (Description)
2. THE TAKING BACK OUR STREETS ACT: An anti-crime package including stronger truth-in- sentencing, "good faith" exclusionary rule exemptions, effective death penalty provisions, and cuts in social spending from this summer's "crime" bill to fund prison construction and additional law enforcement to keep people secure in their neighborhoods and kids safe in their schools. (Bill Text) (Description)
3. THE PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY ACT: Discourage illegitimacy and teen pregnancy by prohibiting welfare to minor mothers and denying increased AFDC for additional children while on welfare, cut spending for welfare programs, and enact a tough two-years-and-out provision with work requirements to promote individual responsibility. (Bill Text) (Description)
4. THE FAMILY REINFORCEMENT ACT: Child support enforcement, tax incentives for adoption, strengthening rights of parents in their children's education, stronger child pornography laws, and an elderly dependent care tax credit to reinforce the central role of families in American society. (Bill Text) (Description)
5. THE AMERICAN DREAM RESTORATION ACT: A S500 per child tax credit, begin repeal of the marriage tax penalty, and creation of American Dream Savings Accounts to provide middle class tax relief. (Bill Text) (Description)
6. THE NATIONAL SECURITY RESTORATION ACT: No U.S. troops under U.N. command and restoration of the essential parts of our national security funding to strengthen our national defense and maintain our credibility around the world. (Bill Text) (Description)
7. THE SENIOR CITIZENS FAIRNESS ACT: Raise the Social Security earnings limit which currently forces seniors out of the work force, repeal the 1993 tax hikes on Social Security benefits and provide tax incentives for private long-term care insurance to let Older Americans keep more of what they have earned over the years. (Bill Text) (Description)
8. THE JOB CREATION AND WAGE ENHANCEMENT ACT: Small business incentives, capital gains cut and indexation, neutral cost recovery, risk assessment/cost-benefit analysis, strengthening the Regulatory Flexibility Act and unfunded mandate reform to create jobs and raise worker wages. (Bill Text) (Description)
9. THE COMMON SENSE LEGAL REFORM ACT: "Loser pays" laws, reasonable limits on punitive damages and reform of product liability laws to stem the endless tide of litigation. (Bill Text) (Description)
10. THE CITIZEN LEGISLATURE ACT: A first-ever vote on term limits to replace career politicians with citizen legislators. (Description)
Unfortunately, when the trouble happened, largely from 2002 to 2006, the GOP got away from those ideas, and we had spending increases, and balanced budgets from the Mike Pence wing of the party shot down. What is needed today is a new contract on these 70% issues that Americans support and are the backbone of the GOP. This needs to be pushed in 2010. Be the leaders, kick Pelosi and Reid to the curb, and make Obama follow until 2012, and kick him out.
I hope Michael Steele is up to the task and gets the RNC straightened out from the mess it's in. He has a chance to be the hero much like Haley Barbour was when he took over a "down and out" GOP back in 1993.