A post by Maynard

Aspiring Republicans introduced the Contract with America to the public six weeks before the 1994 elections. It was a specific list of legislative reforms the Republicans promised to undertake if they were given the power to do so. There’s speculation about how important the Contract was to the subsequent Republican victories, but it certainly played a part. The Republicans followed up with a pretty fair track record of pushing the promised legislation as much as was possible. Some of the reforms died in the legislative process (e.g., the balanced budget amendment failed in the Senate by 2 votes) or in the courts (e.g., the Supreme Court struck down the line item veto). Some reforms went through and were considered successful, such as welfare reform.

For a complete rundown of all the points in the Contract, see the Wiki.

With the Democrats gone so far astray, of course we’re motivated to vote for the opposition. But what will the Republicans do if they come to power? Sure, we’ve got some favorite candidates and some stars, but what will the voting bloc do? We’ve seen the Democrat voting bloc backing Obama’s extreme agenda, dashing whatever hopes we once had that “blue dogs” or “moderates” would pull the party closer to sanity and survival.

There’s been some talk of a new “Contract from America”. It’s got a website and a Wiki entry. This Contract is connected with some Tea Party activists and former Republican leader Dick Armey.

Is the new Contract to be taken seriously? Is it in any sense official? Some of you political junkies may already know all about this, but at this point it’s a vague issue to me.

I just read Peggy Noonan’s latest article, “How do you Stop an Elephant Charging?” (I know some regard Noonan as an elitist or a RINO, but I think her comments are generally worth reading and contemplating.) She asks Grover Norquist, a contributor to the Contract with America, about what happens next.

There are parallels, [Norquist] said, between ’94 and ’10. One is determination. The Republican Party establishment sets its mind specifically to winning back the House in ’94—”before that, it had seemed impossible”—and is doing so again. Both 1994 and 2010 were preceded by striking off-year GOP victories in New Jersey and Virginia, which signaled a coming Republican wave. In 1994 the Republican theme “was not just ‘Vote against Clintonism,’ it was ‘Vote for the Contract with America.'” The Republicans are putting together a 2010 contract and plan to unveil it in late September, as they did in ‘94. The first contract, says Mr. Norquist, was “not a campaign tool but a governing tool.” He remembered data that said before the ’94 election, less than 20% of voters had heard of it. But after the election the media made the contract famous. “It was a great gift to the Republicans,” he said, because it forced them into a semblance of unity by making them focus on a specific agenda.

Sounds like we’re going to be hearing a lot more about a Contract in a few weeks. And I look forward to that. Give us something we can sink our teeth into. Lend some substance to the “hope”. But my first “hope” is that any new Contract will be, as before, “a governing tool.” Because a cool slogan may win the election, but it won’t save the nation.

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9 Comments | Leave a comment
  1. Pangborn says:


    As a conservative/libertarian/cynic I would only hope that whichever crony capitalist party does attempt to govern will indeed have our consent but I seriously doubt that such will be the case.

  2. larrygeary says:

    The Democrats famously turned the Contract with America into the “Contract on America”, and I assume they’ll do it again. What Common Sense Constitutional Conservatives really want (speaking for myself only) is a radical dismantling of the Federal government. Get the Feds out of areas they have no business being in according to the Constitution and return those functions to the States and ultimately to the people. Departments like the Department of Education, Agriculture, EPA should either be abolished or turned into advisory bodies with zero authority, a budget of $2-$4 million, and a staff of 10-20 people that coordinates with and advises equivalent State agencies. We’re not talking about a manicure, we’re talking about amputating the gangrenous arm at the shoulder. Anyone think that would sell as a governing manifesto?

    • MACVEL says:

      Back in the Ice Ages (the 90s), G. Gordon Liddy said near the end of one of his shows that his job is “to wean you off the public dole.” The way he said it was as inviting as what you said. There would be tensions.

    • ladykrystyna says:

      I’m with you. But it ain’t gonna be easy.

      One thing I’ve been trying to say whenever I get a chance to in a comment section or message board is this:

      It took 100 years for the Progressives to get us this far. And it’s going to take another 100 years to fix it.

      It’s nice to go full bore and be excited. But the stable way to fix this – through the election process – is going to take a long time. We can’t lose that excitement if we don’t win as many seats as we think, or even if the candidates we love don’t do what we want them to do.

      It’s going to be a two steps forward, three steps back kind of thing. And if we know this going in, we’ll have the resolve. We have to have that same resolve that has gotten Americans through tough times. We can’t give up the way Clinton did in Somalia. Or the way the Left wanted us to do in Iraq and Afghanistan.

      This if the for long haul, folks. Same as the War on Terror. The long haul. So buckle up, bring some drinks and sandwiches and a few books to read. We’re arent’ going to fix it all any time soon.

      But we have to try.


  3. Pathman says:

    Something is coming out from GOP. I got hints from Director of New Media, House GOP Conference. A new book, Young Guns by Ryan, Cantor and McCarthy is related. Look for the book tour, book is due 9/14. Michael Steele hinted at it last night on Hannity. May have word “Commitment” rather than Contract.

    Contract from American was concept developed within Tea Party Movement, inspired by Contract For America. Took suggestions for contract items, debated and took votes on line. Rep Cathy McMorris Rodgers is most senior GOP to have signed. I strongly support it!

  4. LJZumpano says:

    I don’t join political parties. I don’t answer pollsters or take part in surveys. I made a commitment to my husband, my faith and my country. I made a commitment to Sarah Palin via TeamSarah because deep inside I felt she got it (though finding words to descibe “it” don’t come easily). I became a TAM because as different as we may be, I sensed a common bond that transcends any surface issues where we might disagree. I can not see myself signing on to any “commitment” drawn up by folks who appear to be using it to group us all into a monolithic glob which can be counted upon to mindlessly follow a path we may at some point choose not to go. The commitments I have made give me a sense of community. I am not looking for more. So, I will remain an outsider, thank you very much, supporting the teaparty and conservative candidates who demonstrate they are honorable and trustworthy, but I reserve the right to challenge it all, at any time, for any reason I choose. I will be a purist at times, and pragmatic at others, and it bothers me not in the least if some find that inconsistent.

  5. hsgripper says:

    A contract statement of intensions might be ok. A statement of principles could be better.

  6. ladykrystyna says:

    Well, we definitely don’t want lip service. We should always be cynical of our politicians. It means we are vigilant and won’t be taken for suckers.

    They can give us what they say they are going to do. But then we have to hold them to it. Incumbents should be voted out regularly and new blood given a chance.

    We have a long way to go folks. 100 years to get here and 100 years to fix it all. It’s the long haul. Strap in and hold on.

  7. Pathman says:

    September surprise? ‘Young Guns’ denounce Bush http://tinyurl.com/25xw4ya

    Calling themselves the Young Guns, three members of America’s House of Representatives are about to publish a template for new era of Republican domination in Congress.

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