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August 31, 2008
Promises from the RNC: The Same Old Song?
I spoke with my mother, just before I left for Minneapolis to cover the Republican National Convention for American Thinker. My mother has been to a bunch of RNC conventions. She told me that they were all the same. "It was always the same old song," she said. Speaker after speaker promised to lower taxes, to cut back government red tape, to rein in federal spending.
The crowds were almost hysterical, she told me. They were told exactly what they wanted to hear -- and they believed it. Mom said that she believed it too, at least for the first couple of conventions.
Then, she told me, it started to wear thin. The same empty promises, convention after convention, from the same ever aging speakers. Republican congressmen and senators talked about conservatism at the Republican National Convention. But, as soon as they had returned to their offices in D.C., their press releases were all about the million dollar bike paths, sewer systems, or tourism grants that they had managed to snag for their constituents.
"It's lies. All lies," she told me. Mom has stopped attending the RNC. She has also stopped sending the Republican Party her money. Maybe my mom has become a bit jaded.
The Republican Party has a long and growing list of broken promises. I keep a copy of Contract with America in my office. (This is the book that outlined what a Republican congress would do for America if it was elected. It was written prior to the 1994 congressional elections.) Every time I start to believe the Republican Party's hype, I pull it out and read it. Like my mother said, "It's lies. All lies."
It is true that in 1994 then Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich was able to force the new Republican majority to keep its promises to balance the budget, cut the growth of government, etc. He held them in line for almost two years.
But Gingrich was crucified by the media and President Bill Clinton was given credit for trimming down the ship of state (even though, constitutionally speaking, all revenue measures originate in the House of Representatives -- so it was a Republican budget.) The Republicans, in the House and the Senate, tossed in the conservative towel in 1996, and Washington, D.C. went back to business as usual.
Americans are an insightful people. They know a liar when they hear one. So, after 1996, Republicans promised smaller government but delivered pork barrel politics to their constituents. It didn't take long (less than a decade) for Americans to grow weary of the hypocrisy. After all, Democrats are honest on this point: they say that they want to raise our taxes and increase government spending. So if pork is a priority, then it just makes sense to vote Democrat.
That is how a lot of Americans have read the political situation in the last few elections. It has given the Democrats majorities in the house and the senate.
I will be landing in Minneapolis in a few hours. At my last layover, I spoke with a young woman who had just come from another kind of conference. She works for one of those "pyramid" based businesses. She sells vitamins. She was high as a kite from listening to the speakers at the conference. They promised her that, if she kept at it, she could be a millionaire in a matter of a few months.
I wanted to tell her if she kept at it that those who had made the speeches would make a lot of money off of her hard work. But nothing I could have said to her would have dampened her enthusiasm -- that's why the vitamin company wanted her to attend the conference. She is, at least for awhile, a true believer.
She is like my mom -- who used to come home from the RNC thinking that the Republican Party was (finally) going to keep its promises.
There is some indication that some politicians in the Republican Party might be getting serious about conservatism. Sarah Palin has certainly taken on the "good old boy" Republicans in Alaska. She seems to have made every effort to keep her word to the people of the state she governs. (And the people of Alaska love her for it.)
Maybe there will be other conservative reformers like her at the convention. Or maybe the Republicans are singing the same old song. In the next week, I will do my best to let American Thinkers know what song the Republicans are singing.
Larrey Anderson is covering the RNC in Minneapolis for American Thinker. His latest award winning novel is The Order of the Beloved.