The mid-term elections were not as bad for the GOP as many liberal commentators would have the public believe. Granted, five seats in the House were lost, but the setback and Newt Gingrich’s resignation of the speakership may serve as the slap in the face the GOP needs. That is only if Republicans take it as that and get back on track.
The Republican Congress has been told that it has not done its job and it has been justifiably punished. At the same time, across the country people have asked for conservative government by voting overwhelmingly for GOP governors. The frontier is where conservatives must focus their actions in the next two years.
Republicans now occupy 31 gubernatorial seats and more state legislative seats than they have historically controlled at redistricting time. It is an opportune moment for the Republican Party to follow the lead of men such as George W. Bush Jr. and Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson and begin slashing government on the state level. The GOP Congress must accept its weakened position and pass as much legislative power as possible back to the states.
For now, Republicans in Congress should concentrate on regrouping. The new leadership must make a break from Gingrich – at least in the eyes of the public. He was an easy symbol for the Democrats to rally against and his shadow must be cast off. Impeachment hearings should be stopped. The new leadership should settle for censuring President Clinton, decry the opportunistic politicizing of the whole Lewinsky scandal and claim that it is time to move on and return to governing the nation.
Right or wrong, the fact of the matter is most voters view the impeachment proceedings as fueled more by partisan politics than by any legitimate moral or legal reasons.
For much of the electorate, the president’s possible perjury does not warrant his removal from office. So if the GOP can recast itself as caring less about party politics and more about the country (as it should), it will be to its benefit.
After such debacles as the 1995 government shutdowns, the budget defeat and the impeachment proceedings, it is time for the Republican Congress to put is efforts into focusing on America. The Bush brothers owe much of their respective victories to reaching out to the everyday man, especially Latinos and other minority groups. Like George Jr. and Jeb, the GOP should act as an unifying figure. It should return to its birthright as a champion for liberty and freedom for all.
In addition, Republicans must ready America for any economic downturn resulting from the current global recession. If the United States should fall victim to the epidemic, the GOP must lead the way in finding an unified response. Partisan politics should have no place in the face of such a dramatic national threat.
The mid-term elections can serve as a positive wake-up call for the Republican majority. The GOP holds most of the important cards. The question is will it play them correctly?
-The writer is a freshman majoring in international affairs.