Where Have You Gone, Scott Klug?
The other day James linked to a comment on Volokh that pointed out that the phrase "principled conservative Republican" is in danger of turning into a term that has become unmoored from its etymology.
Recent events make me think they may be on to something. Whatever happened to those impassioned, principled Republicans who won over the country in 1994 with the Contract with America? Luckily for me, Save the GOP has the answers. Of the 74 members of the famed Republican House freshman class of 1994, only 30 are still in the House, while another six have moved on to the Senate and two are Governors. But many, like my own former Representative, Scott Klug (that's right folks, Madison elected a Republican), have disappeared from politics. It makes me ask another question: is there a place in politics for a principled conservative Republican? I'm afraid the answer may be "No".
The Class of '94 came into Congress full of energy, new ideas and promises to fulfill. While many of the Contract's bills passed the House, few passed the Senate and even if they did, they still faced Bill Clinton's veto pen (his pen is mightier than a sword - anyone get the Tommy Thompson reference?). Even though American voters seemingly gave the Republicans a mandate for their agenda, they still couldn't push it through.
I think this caused a lot of good men and women, like Scott Klug, to become disillusioned. Too many of their fellow Congressmen and women were more concerned with their own re-election than with articulating any ideas for America. This atmosphere of entrenchment and political careerism drove away those people who wanted to go to Congress not to start a career, but rather to start a movement back to the ideals of Conservatism expressed by the likes of Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan. Sadly, it may be that a person with principles is out of place in the US Capitol.
I think the only way to stop this, to stop the good people from giving up on government, is to actually implement Congressional term limits. No one talks about this anymore (probably because McCain/Feingold already solved all of our electoral problems ;-), but it would be one big step towards making sure that our elected officials are in office for us as much as they are in it for themselves.
Posted by at June 29, 2005 12:02 AM
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|# June 29th, 2005 12:32 AM james|
|kris, this is great post - right up until you mention term limits.
i am 100% against term limits, and think that they have no place at all in the American way of life.
supporting term limits as a way of bringing about connected representaiton in congress seems to me to be about as rational as imposing gun bans around schools as a means to reduce gun violence. in a word or three, it's f--king retarded.