The six year itch

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.


The Republican Party is not dead

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.


Immigration reform: The view from California

As home to a quarter of the nation’s immigrants, California has the most to gain – or lose – in immigration reform. Undocumented immigrants aren’t “unseen” in Los Angeles, Bakersfield, or Eureka: they’re a vital component of every community in our state. They are our children’s classmates, our church leaders, and our family members.


Republicans should tackle party's blight in urban centers

Following Mitt Romney’s loss in November, our country’s pundit class wasted little time delivering a diagnosis: Republicans have a serious electoral problem with Hispanics and African-Americans.

As a representative to the Republican National Committee from the country’s only urban party committee, my exasperated response to this was, “Tell me something I don’t know.” In fact, I’ll do the pundits one better. Our problem isn’t limited to specific demographic groups—our problem extends to entire cities.


FCC can help keep elections honest and transparent

We’ve only had a break from those nasty political ads for just a few months.  But, get ready.
The negative attack ads are coming back in a big way. Shadowy outside groups are already trickling into the Bluegrass state in anticipation of the 2014 Senate race there.  And, soon there’ll be no end in sight.
It’s something I’m pretty familiar with: some of these same groups spent more than $20 million in Florida in an attempt to distort my record during the 2012 election. They ran ads that were deemed “pants on fire” false by independent fact checkers like PolitiFact and Yet third-party group spending on these ads hit record highs during the 2012 election cycle as a whole. 


Learning the lessons of the Irish peace process

In December 2012, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton came to Dublin City University (DCU) to launch the Institute for International Conflict Resolution and Reconstruction (IICRR). This is an important new initiative that will ensure the lessons learned in the Irish peace process can be applied elsewhere in conflict and post-conflict societies. 

The achievement of peace in Ireland involved a process of unparalleled complexity involving community, economic, religious and international relations.  The new Institute for International Conflict Resolution and Reconstruction (IICRR) at DCU will ensure that the definitive story of the Irish peace process is captured, analyzed with academic rigor and made available to actors in various peace processes globally. In the institute today, leading academic experts in international relations, security policy, conflict resolution, law, enterprise and other relevant areas are working on:


Attack ads do not promote social welfare

Last month, former Democratic congressional candidate Dr. David Gill, his campaign committee, and my organization, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), sued the IRS for misinterpreting the Tax Code and creating a loophole that allows some tax-exempt organizations to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on political activity while keeping their donors secret.
According to federal law, groups seeking tax exempt status under section 501(c)(4) must be “operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare.”  The IRS, however, issued a regulation undermining this clear language by requiring such groups only to be “primarily engaged” in promoting social welfare. This has allowed some groups to conclude up to 49 percent of their overall activities may be political. The lawsuit simply asks the court to require the IRS to interpret and apply the law the way Congress wrote it.


US should support self-determination in Falkland Islands

On his first international tour as secretary of State, John Kerry started in London — a decision that highlights America’s essential relationship with the United Kingdom. And while I am pleased that Secretary Kerry chose to visit the U.K., I am disappointed that he failed to offer support for the Falkland Islands. By failing to acknowledge the right of self-determination for free people, Secretary Kerry undermined what makes our country great — our unqualified support for freedom from tyranny and oppression. He also missed an opportunity to strengthen the bond between the United States and the U.K.


Energy trade, not restrictions or taxes. will advance growth

In less than a decade, the role of unconventional oil and gas has dramatically changed the energy outlook in the United States. Over the next 20 years, US natural gas and coal exports will increase and oil imports will decline steadily.
Abundant domestic energy can be a huge driver of the U.S. economy. In order to facilitate economic growth we need to move away from policies based on energy scarcity to our new reality of abundance – an abundance that can benefit our nation’s long-term economic outlook enormously.


Section 5 of Voting Rights Act must be protected

Last weekend, I joined The Faith and Politics Institute on their annual Congressional Civil Rights pilgrimage to Alabama. I’ve taken this trip several times, but its significance this year could not be more poignant. While we have come a long way and much progress has been made, the many battles fought forty eight years ago in Selma are still raging, but this time we’re not fighting in the streets, we’re fighting in the courts.

Last week, some of my colleagues and I took that fight to the steps of the Supreme Court to rally in support of the most effective Civil Rights legislation ever enacted by Congress, The Voting Rights Act.