Pence & Shadegg


I wrote the following for the Directors of RedState:

We write this only a few hours after the polls have opened because the point of this has nothing to do with whether the GOP maintains control of the United States House of Representatives. Win or lose, it is clear that Speaker Hastert must go. And win or lose, it is clear that institutional change is extremely necessary for the House Republicans.

Historically, the GOP should expect losses this year. It has defied history by not experiencing the losses it will no doubt experience in 2006. But, the GOP did not have to be in the position in which it found itself — Mark Foley and the pages, Curt Weldon, Bob Ney, etc. At some point, the GOP found itself more committed to the tangible benefits of power than to leading with any sense of purpose. That must change.

To affect that change, several things must happen. First, the GOP must scrub its leadership, starting with Speaker Hastert. Speaker Hastert’s office put his staff in charge of the institution. They were committed to the Speaker, but not necessarily the cause. As a result, members of Congress were able to isolate themselves from the institutional need for reform. The Republican Appropriators have run wild, able to control their own budget and run roughshod over conservative reformers. And the Republican Study Committee was denied a seat at the leadership table. That must change.

Second, the GOP must re-dedicate itself to first principles. Without a White House governing with conservative principles first, the GOP has been rudderless. The House Republicans must decisively reject the idea of “big government conservatism” and set about, again, reducing the burdens of government on the people. They can start by making Mike Pence the leader of the House GOP and John Shadegg the Whip.

Lastly, in returning to first principles, the GOP must reunite social and fiscal conservatives. While we disagree with those who are casting stones at social conservatives like James Dobson, we do think both sides must recognize that government is still the problem, not the solution. And if members of the GOP in the House do not share in that belief, we must work to marginalize them. To do otherwise would leave us where we are — acting like Democrats-Lite. Republicans do not win when they act like Democrats. They win when they act like Republicans.

It’s time for the Republicans to become conservatives once more.

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Erick Erickson


  • Great article. The House Republicans have become what the Democrats were after 40 years in power and what we got rid of in 1994–bloated, pork-dealing, caught-up-in-the-power-of-their-office entrenched “politicians” rather than the idealistic, public-minded civil servants that they started off as with the Contract for America.

  • Agree with every word of that. The GOP has been sent a message, but that message is not that American opinion has shifted to the left. The message is that the current GOP leadership are the ones shifting, and Americans want a return to Reagan conservatism. It’s very clear that the moderates, who had been trending right in past elections, decided change was necessary, and chose to support more conservative Democrats. In short, the voters didn’t support a liberal Democrat agenda (there wasn’t any agenda to support), but decided that one party had been in control for too long. I was optimistic yesterday, but had also prepared myself for this outcome, and I believe this will benefit us in the long run.

By Erick Erickson

Erick Erickson

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