1994: The Republican Revolution Betrayed

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Writing in TechCentralStation, Radley Balko marks the tenth anniversary of the Contract with America. Republicans, he argues, have "succumbed to the very seductions and trappings of power that they ran and won against in 1994. They now control the White House too. And since the GOP began both passing the laws and signing them in 2001, the federal government has grown at rates unseen in nearly a half-century."

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  1. I would agree with Armand that Republicans have succumbed to the fruits of congressional power. I do think many of them were sincere in limiting govt in 1994 – unfortunately, many of them voluntarily term-limited themselves and are no longer in Congress.

    So, assuming that the lust for re-election and power is the problem, is term limits the solution?

  2. Armand:
    The perverse incentives of elected office make it hard to slow the growth of government. Politicians that get reelected are those who bring home the bacon. It’s hard to boast in an ad “I prevented more programs than anyone else, and made sure that less federal money is coming in than ever.”

    How about a separation of powers – one legislature to tax, and a different one to spend?

  3. Thon Brocket,

    Actually I have a better idea. How about we listen to our mothers and stop trusting strangers? How about we watch what someone actually does, instead of what they say they will do. Hahaaa, giggle, . Oh wait, I forgot, if there is one thing Libertarians, Democrats and Republicans have in common, it is their scary, desperate need to believe politicians when they speak. How do you know when a politician is lying? We haven?t buried them yet.

    And although I love ?Reason?. I see that ?need to believe? here too.

  4. Jennifer, I’ll disagree with you to this extent: One of the striking features about the 1992 Republican Party in general and the Contract with America in particular was the fact that they rigorously avoided all of the “social conservative” issues to which you refer. In that year, at least, the Contract and the party stayed on message with issues of governance and fiscal responsibility. If you’re saying that we all oughtn’t to have deluded ourselves into believing that the “other shoe” wasn’t going to drop sooner or later, well, I’d have to agree with you there. But relative to the specifics of the Contract with American and the message of the 1992 Republicans, I’ve got to point out that all of the crap you so rightly denounce just wasn’t there.

  5. Oops. Good catch, Ken. I’ll change that.

  6. One wouldn’t expect it of someone Ruthless, but here is where I fell off the Contract wit Amurika Bandwagon at the start. (I had to look this up in Google to remind myself.)

    This is a small sample, by the way:

    “(ii) The term `drug trafficking crime’ means a crime punishable by
    imprisonment for more than 1 year involving the manufacture,
    distribution, possession, cultivation, sale, or transfer of a controlled
    substance, controlled substance analogue, immediate precursor, or listed
    chemical (as those terms are defined in section 102 of the Controlled
    Substance Act (21 U.S.C. 802)), or an attempt or conspiracy to commit
    such a crime.”

    How many billions have since been spent on the Wur on Durgs, and how many mandatory minimums have been given by thus coerced judges?

  7. When Republicans say they want “smaller government” they actually mean “less social services.” That’s all. They wouldn’t give a family five grand a year in food stamps, but have no qualms about spending thirty grand a year to put a pot smoker in jail.

  8. And when Democrats say they want “more civil liberties”, they actually mean “more civil liberties for everyone except law-abiding gun owners”.

  9. Geotech-
    You’re right. But right now, at least, it’s not the Democrats who have been systematically chipping away at our freedoms for awhile. More importantly, at least as far as the topic on this thread is concerned, the Democrats did not release a Contract with Gun Owners and then abandon it as soon as they got into power.

  10. Learning that the Republicans disregarded their own rhetoric and supported Big Government comes as horrible news to me. I am grieved, saddened and, yes, shocked. I can’t believe they would behave like this!

  11. The perverse incentives of elected office make it hard to slow the growth of government. Politicians that get reelected are those who bring home the bacon. It’s hard to boast in an ad “I prevented more programs than anyone else, and made sure that less federal money is coming in than ever.”

  12. Seems more like “1994: Prominent Libertarians Duped for an Entire Decade into Thinking a Broad Plan Conducted Openly and Designed to Redistribute Wealth Upward and Redirect Government Spending Accordingly Was Actually a Plan to Shrink Government in the Aggregate Just Because GOP Leadership Said So in Contradiction to its Architects’ Prior Stated Policy Positions and Prior Documented Fondness for Pork”.

    Not as catchy, I admit.

  13. Republicans, he argues, have “succumbed to the very seductions and trappings of power that they ran and won against in 1994…

    And this surprises you, Mr. Balko? I was uncomfortable when Newt Gingrich was wishing he had a copy of “The Portable FDR” to quote from the day he and his GOP buddies took over. It was an ill omen.

  14. But don’t forget, folks, divided government would be much, much worse. Why? Because it would let the Democrats have some say in the process. And we can’t have that.

    So keep voting GOP no matter what!

  15. The fact that the Republicans spent so much time yammering about “cultural elites” and the “gay agenda” and Murphy Brown’s bastard child and so forth should have led you to expect this. What, they all but tell you they want to regulate the sex lives of American adults, and yet you act surprised to discover that–gasp!–they are not truly interested in reducing the power of the government? No–they wanted to reduce government power when the DEMOCRATS held it.

    These are the same fools seventy years ago who would read Mein Kampf and then claim to be shocked–SHOCKED, I tell you–to learn that Hitler implemented policies which were somewhat racist.

  16. I hate echo chambers.

  17. So I guess Charles Schumer wasn’t defending the BATF during the Waco hearings or anything, because it’s the REPUBLICANS who are the only ones picking away at our freedoms. And I guess they never tried to get gun owners to buy into that “common sense gun laws” bullshit either.

  18. I believe that we can all agree that both major parties are horrible choices. They both pander to the worst instincts of the electorate and they both pursue screwball private agendas while giving lip service to public good.

    So… now that we have a problem statement… what is the solution?

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