Will the Republicans Save Us?

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Now that the Democrats have regained complete control of the government, many conservatives are looking to the Republicans in Congress to save us from the socialism and fascism of the Democrats. As we saw when Clinton was president, many Republicans have started talking, and some have started acting, like the conservative advocates of liberty and less government they claim to be. Will the Republicans save us?

Don’t count on it.

So why am I so pessimistic? Because I actually check how the Republicans in Congress vote instead of just listening to their free-market, limited government, and anti-Democratic rhetoric, that’s why.

The New American magazine’s “Freedom Index” for the new 111th Congress has just been released. The higher the number on this index, the stronger a congressman’s “adherence to constitutional principles of limited government, fiscal responsibility, national sovereignty, and a traditional foreign policy of avoiding foreign entanglements.” Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX) scored a perfect 100 on the House version of the index, as he consistently does. This time, however, two other Republicans in the House (John Duncan of Tennessee and Jeff Flake of Arizona) also scored a 100. The high scorer in the Senate was Tom Coburn (R-OK), with a 100.

The composition of the 111th Congress in the House is 256 Democrats and 178 Republicans (there is one vacancy). In the Senate, there are 58 Democrats, 2 Independents, and 40 Republicans.

The ten issues that members of the 111th Congress in the House are being rated on this time are TARP funding, reauthorization of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), economic stimulus spending, national service, federal funding of more police, the $3.56 trillion federal budget, hate crimes legislation, supplemental appropriations for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, TSA use of body imaging screening, and the “cash for clunkers” program.

In the Senate, the issues are TARP funding, the Mexico City Policy on abortion funding, SCHIP reauthorization, economic stimulus spending, District of Columbia congressional voting rights, the Fairness Doctrine, national service, the federal budget, funding for the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and supplemental appropriations.

The average House score on the “Freedom Index” is 38; the average Senate score is 34. The average Republican score in the House is 71; the average Republican score in the Senate is 76. (The Republican average in the Senate should actually be less since Arlen Specter [D-PA] was a Republican for the first seven of the ten Senate votes tracked by the “Freedom Index.”) Obviously, the Democratic averages are less than the overall averages.

Okay, so the Republicans don’t look too bad — if we compare them with the Democrats. And that’s the problem. When the Republicans look good, it is usually because they are being compared with the Democrats. Even when they look bad, they end up looking good because they are said to be the lesser of two evils.

But judged by the standards of liberty and the Constitution, the Republicans in the House only get a C—, while those in the Senate get a C. This is not good for a party whose members take an oath to uphold the Constitution and profess to believe in free markets and limited government. Who praises their kids for having a C average on their report card?

Another reason I am not excited about these Republican scores is that their numbers in previous editions of the “Freedom Index” are much, much lower. For example, the last “Freedom Index” gave the cumulative scores for forty key votes in the 110th Congress. The Republican average in the Senate was a pathetic 47. But shouldn’t we still be happy about the higher scores for the Republicans in the 111th Congress? Yes and no. I rejoice that many Republicans have started acting like the defenders of liberty and less government they claim to be. But I am not dumb enough to think that they are doing it for any other reason than they are opposing the Democrats. Almost half of the Republicans in the House and over two-thirds of the Republicans in the Senate voted for the bailout bill (H.R. 1424) last year. What a difference a Democratic president makes.

Am I being too hard on the Republicans? I think not.

When we dig a little deeper into the legislation tracked by the “Freedom Index” we see that it’s not just a few bad grapes that are corrupting the Republican vine. The Republicans show themselves to be against liberty and limited government on certain key issues. On the issue of national service, 70 Republicans in the House and 22 in the Senate voted for The Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act (H.R. 1388). On the supplemental appropriations bill (H.R. 2346) that funneled another $84.5 billion to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and authorized another $10 billion in foreign aid, only 9 Republicans in the House and 1 in the Senate voted no. A House vote authorizing the federal government to spend $1.8 billion a year to hire local law-enforcement officers through the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program (H.R. 1139) was supported by 94 Republicans. There were 59 House Republicans that voted for the Consumer Assistance to Recycle and Save Act (H.R. 2751), known as the “cash for clunkers” program. This authorizes the federal government to give consumers rebates of up to $4,500 for trading in their old cars for more fuel-efficient ones. I am still trying to find authorization for that one in the Constitution.

I applaud the Republicans for overwhelmingly rejecting Obama’s economic stimulus (The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act [H.R. 1]) and bloated federal budget. But where were these born-again fiscal conservatives during the Bush years? Is there any doubt that a McCain stimulus and a McCain budget would be strongly supported by most of the Republicans in Congress? How can anyone look at the Republican track record and think otherwise?

So, can we look to the Republicans to save us? Obviously not. So many of them violate the Constitution without even blinking, the vast majority of them still support billions more in spending for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and so few of them are even close to being Ron Paul Republicans.

As I have said on several occasions, I rarely bother to write about the evils of the Democratic Party. The socialist and statist policies of the Democratic Party are well known and expected. The Democrats don’t masquerade as advocates of more liberty and less government. They openly preach the redistribution of wealth, draconian environmental laws, the nanny state, and massive increases in government intervention in the economy and society. The only thing surprising about the Democrats turning this country into a socialist/fascist paradise is the speed in which they are going about it.

We can count on the Republicans to oppose some of the socialism and fascism of the Democrats, grudgingly go along with some of it in exchange for something they want, wholeheartedly support some of it, and then, as we saw in the Bush years, enact some of their own once they get in power.

This means that if we’re looking to the Republicans save us, we’re doomed.

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