Imagine this scene: A CEO, VP of government affairs, communications director, media spokesperson, social media manager and webmaster are huddled in a conference room somewhere in Washington, D.C. Sipping on Starbucks and bottled water, they are diligently brainstorming about how to raise awareness about a particularly challenging issue facing their organization.
Democracy is a wonderful thing. Campaigning for national office in the 21st century? Not so much.
It isn’t just that officeholders spend less time governing and more time campaigning and fundraising. It’s also that we, the people, have less time to get on with our lives because of the constant campaigning we must navigate.
That the permanent campaign is bad for governing has been widely noted. But it also eats away at citizens’ time, demanding more than is needed for healthy civic engagement. Ignoring elections is an understandable, even rational response to all the campaigning; what if it becomes the rational response?
At a time when the American people are searching for a responsible federal budget outlining pro-growth policy initiatives that Congress could enact with bipartisan support, President Obama decided to go in a different direction. Ten weeks late, the president’s budget reflects his belief in a bigger government and a citizenry dependent on it.
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the modern income tax, which was established through the 16th Amendment to the Constitution. Over the years, our tax code has become bloated with loopholes, regulations and exemptions and now contains almost four million words. According to the Laffer Center, it costs up to $431 billion a year simply to comply with and administer our complicated tax system. Now is the time for tax reform that makes the tax code simpler and fairer, and the majority of Americans agree.
It took no time for politicians to clamor for the Obama administration to treat Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the surviving Boston Marathon bombings suspect, as an enemy combatant. The administration has properly dismissed those demands, charging Tsarnaev in federal court with using a weapon of mass destruction. But the fact that militarizing the treatment of terrorism suspects continues to masquerade as a legitimate policy option more than a decade after 9/11 is itself cause for concern.
I recently wrote about the similarities and differences between the 1998 and 2014 campaign for the U.S. House. One of the main reasons the 1998 DCCC broke the six year itch (picking up seats in the sixth year of a president’s eight year term) for the only time in the twentieth century was the strong effort we made in recruiting good candidates. If the DCCC is to have a chance to repeat that success in 2014 it will need to have a strong recruiting year.
Part of strong recruiting is that sometimes you have to put your thumb on the scale and help the strongest possible candidate win your party’s primary. Senate Republicans failed to do this in the last two cycles and thus wasted golden opportunities to take back control of the Senate by permitting weak candidates to win primaries in Delaware, Nevada and Colorado in 2010 and in Missouri and Indiana in 2012.
Let me cite five examples of how we put our thumb on the scale in 1998 when I chaired the DCCC.
Last Friday, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rolled out sweeping new regulations to reduce the amount of sulfur in gasoline. According to EPA, these rules would be the equivalent of taking 33 million automobiles off the road. While this looks good on paper, it could have devastating effects on hardworking American families.
Small businesses expect direct decisions and actions from Congress this year. We expect Congress to carry out the people’s business in an orderly fashion. On the surface this seems peripheral to business, and that specific bills or budgets should be the order of the day; however, those bills that come up to Congress that seem to be socially weighted dramatically effect small businesses. Should the government act on banning assault rifles? Maybe, but there is more than the gun industry that is affected by this decision. Many school districts are scrambling to find budgets for additional private security, and one issue facing them is imminent need, and with the assault rifle being viewed as a direct threat, you can bet local authorities are developing budgets and asking for federal assistance to hire companies.
There has been a lot of back and forth in recent weeks about whether House Democrats can beat the six year itch in 2014 and re-take the majority.
The six year itch means that the president’s party almost never gains House seats in the sixth year of a president’s eight year term. It happened only once in the 20th century – 1998 when Democrats gained five seats.
As the resident authority on this subject – I was chairman of the DCCC in 1998 when we accomplished this feat – I have a few thoughts which I have refrained from expressing until now.
I’ve got bad news for the national press: The Republican Party is not dead. I know much has been said, written and pontificated upon about how terrible the Republican brand has become and how the party needs to change. I disagree – one can look no further than Republicans in the United States House of Representatives to see an alive, vibrant and thoughtful group of Republican leaders.
True, the GOP suffered a large-scale defeat in the presidential race and, true, the GOP failed to win important seats in the U.S. Senate. But elections do not defeat ideals and policies – elections defeat candidates. What happened in November was a wakeup call to the party that candidates and principles matter. Some of our candidates lost, but the foundation of the GOP is as strong as ever. We stand for liberty, freedom, less government, a strong defense, growth and more prosperity.