What Republican Revolution?

Since the Democrats took control of the Congress in the recent midterm elections, we have heard and seen numerous references to the Republican victory in the 1994 midterm elections as the Republican revolution of 1994. What Republican revolution? We can see the results in history of revolutions like the American Revolution, the French Revolution, and the Russian Revolution, but what evidence is there of a Republican revolution? When the 104th Congress began in January of 1995, it was the first time since the 83rd Congress of 1953—1955 that the Republicans had control of both the House and Senate. They had never controlled the House during the forty-year period of Democratic rule, and only briefly controlled the Senate, during the 97th through 99th Congresses of 1981—1987. After forty years of being out of power, a revolution was certainly in order. True, the Republicans did not yet also control the White House as they did during the 83rd Congress when Dwight Eisenhower was president, but it is Congress that writes the laws, not the president. And unlike the Congress under Eisenhower, which reverted to Democratic rule in the next election, the Republican control of the Congress under Bill Clinton continued unabated through the end of his second term. When what looked like a Republican revolution seemed to stagnate under Clinton, excuses began to be made for the fact that the Republicans were acting like anything but the conservatives who voted them into office. Republican control of the White House, we were told, and a larger Republican majority in Congress, were needed to complete the revolution. After all, Clinton could veto any bills passed by a Republican Congress, and the Republicans did not have a veto-proof majority. It turns out that in eight years Clinton only vetoed seventeen bills, making Republican fears unfounded. And then came George W. Bush. Republicans were ecstatic. A Republican president was once again elected. This time, however, things were different. When George Bush was inaugurated in 2001, he had a Republican-controlled Congress. This is something a Republican president had not had for forty-five years. The millennium was now here. The Republican revolution was now ready to be completed. Enter Jim Jeffords. The Republican controlled 107th Congress (2001—2003) had a weak link: the Senate. Jeffords was a Republican senator from Vermont. Early in Bush’s first term, Senator Jeffords switched from Republican to Independent, changing the 50/50 balance of power in the Senate. Although the House remained in Republican hands, those hands were tied, so we were told, because the Republicans no longer controlled the Senate. The Republicans always seem to have an excuse. Big government, intrusive government — it is always the fault of those evil Democrats. But then, finally, no more excuses. The midterm elections of 2002 gave us a new Congress (the 108th, 2003—2005) that was once again solidly Republican. This gave the Republicans an absolute majority for the last two years of Bush’s first term. This scenario was confirmed by Bush’s reelection and the further increase of the Republican majority in the 109th Congress. Republicans could no longer blame everything on the Democrats like they did for so long before they gained their absolute majority. So, now that the Republicans have controlled the House since 1995, now that the Republicans have controlled the Senate for the same period except for about a year and a half, now that a Republican president has been elected and reelected, and now that we have had several years of an absolute Republican majority, a simple question needs to be asked: What Republican revolution? Jacob Hornberger, the president of the Future of Freedom Foundation, recently asked some pertinent questions about the Republicans:

  • How many departments were abolished when Republicans controlled the presidency and both houses of Congress?
  • How many agencies?
  • How many spending bills were vetoed?
  • How many pork-barrel projects were jettisoned?
  • How much was federal spending reduced?

The answer to every question is, of course, a big fat zero. No egregious legislation was repealed, and the welfare/warfare state is bigger and more intrusive than ever. Some revolution. Although many Republicans who claim to believe in a limited government can talk a good conservatism, especially when it comes time for an election, one statistic is all it takes to see that there has been no limit to the growth of government under the Republican Party. On the eve of the new Republican-controlled Congress in 1995, the national debt was just under $5 trillion. At the time of Bush’s first inauguration in 2001, the national debt stood at $5,727,776,738,304.64. At the time of his second inauguration in 2005, the national debt stood at $7,613,772,338,689.34. On the day of the recent midterm elections, the national debt was up to $8,592,561,542,263.30. The Republican revolution is a failure, a dismal failure. Despite the Republican rhetoric about the virtues of conservatism, the benefits of the free market, and the need for less government intervention in the economy and society, the Republican majority in both houses of Congress did nothing but further increase the size and scope of government. This, of course, comes as no surprise, since the history of the Republican Party is not one of real conservatism at all; it is the history of interventionism, big government, the welfare state, the warfare state, plunder, compromises, and sellouts, as Clyde Wilson and Thomas DiLorenzo have showed us in great detail. Those who voted for a third party candidate for Congress in the recent election are not the ones who wasted their vote. Republicans who voted for Republican candidates hoping that u201Cthis timeu201D perhaps the performance of the Republicans might improve are the ones who wasted their vote. Conservatives who, against their better judgment, voted Republican because they feared what would happen if the u201Cliberalsu201D were in control, wasted their vote on a party that deserved to lose. Evangelical Christians who held their nose and voted Republican because they thought they were choosing the lesser of two evils not only wasted their vote, but are sadly mistaken. Do I celebrate the Democratic victory in the midterm elections for Congress? Hardly. The socialist and statist policies of the Democratic Party are well known, but at least Democrats are usually honest about being advocates of bigger government and increased government intervention instead of masquerading as advocates of smaller and less intrusive government like the hypocritical Republicans do. It is too bad that the Republicans did not at least win control of the Senate (the Senate is now 49 Democrats, 49 Republicans, and 2 liberal Independents). It is great to have gridlock between a Democratic Congress and a Republican president, but it is better to have gridlock between the House and Senate as well. We can only hope and pray that this government comes to a grinding halt — for the sake of the liberties of the American people.