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Posted on 10/06/2011 10:39:28 AM PDT by Vintage Freeper
An Encounter Too Close
In 1995 after the victory celebrations concluded, Republicans got down to work on passing the various provisions of the Contract with America. The terms of the Contract were simple. Republicans promised to bring ten proposed laws to the floor for an up or down vote within the first hundred days.
The Republicans signing the Contract did not promise to vote for or to pass each of the ten provisions, only to bring them to the floor for a vote. Importantly and with this consideration, the order of voting on the ten items was prioritized and scheduled in a way that Republicans could best showcase their successes. The items that Republicans were confident they could pass would be voted on first and the most difficult items to pass would be the last votes scheduled. Most people, whether voters or members of Congress, expected that at least half or maybe even slightly more than half of the Contract would be passed. By the same token, there might not have been a single human being that actually believed Republicans would be able to pass all ten of the major provisions.
Some of the first laws scheduled for votes were not terribly controversial or too partisan. They passed readily and even garnered some Democratic support. As each provision was passed, momentum for the Contract began to build. Democrats, lacking experience as a minority party could not mount any effective opposition to slow or block the provisions of the Contract in committee. Virtually in a state of shock at the depth and breadth of their power loss, Democrats were not even able to mount an effective opposition on either the House or Senate floors. Before the voting on the first half of the Contract was finished, some Democrats, afraid of being seen as spoilers, continued to cross the aisle and vote for various aspects of the Contract. And as the momentum continued to build, thoughts of mounting a filibuster vanished in front of the surging momentum of the Republican juggernaut.
The first eight provisions passed both the House and the Senate on a schedule that left room to pass the last two provisions within the hundred days. President Clinton signed seven of the provisions into law, but vetoed welfare reform twice before finally signing it much later and with some modifications. Only the Balanced Budget and Term Limits provisions remained. Instead of simple majorities, as proposed Constitutional Amendments, both provisions would require what was deemed an impossible two-thirds majority in both houses to pass.
Every American, including the members of both parties in the House and the Senate, was surprised, if not stunned, when the Balanced Budget Amendment passed the House with the required two-thirds majority to send it to the Senate. The focus of attention shifted to the Senate. After ninety-eight Senators had voted, and with momentum for the Contract at its peak, it was Mark Hatfield's turn to vote. It was already known that the only remaining Senator to vote was going to vote "no" if Hatfield voted against it, and would vote to pass the Amendment if Hatfield voted for it under the theory that it would be the epitome of presumptuousness for one Senator to defeat an issue of this magnitude if the legislatures of three-fourths of the States were willing to approve it. It was literally down to Hatfield, if he voted for the Amendment, it would pass the required two-thirds majority hurdle and go to the States for ratification. If he voted "no", the Balanced Budget Amendment would go down in defeat. It is important to note that Hatfield had already voted for the Amendment twice in two previous Congresses. Hatfield requested and received a delay before casting his vote in order to consult with Bob Dole, Majority Leader of the Senate. One of the most suspense-filled moments in America's political history had suddenly arrived on a practically apoplectic Congress.
Hatfield reportedly told Dole that his "conscience" would not let him vote for the Balanced Budget Amendment. But rather than deprive the states and We the people of the right to define this for Congress, Hatfield was willing to resign his seat rather than let the Amendment fail by a single vote. Dole refused to accept his resignation and the Balanced Budget Amendment failed in the Senate, one vote short of the required two-thirds.
What could explain Hatfield's bizarre change in "conscience"? Could this have been the first Kerryism where a politician actually voted for it before he voted against it? Just as bizarre is why did Dole permit one Senator's schizophrenic change of conscience to potentially thwart the will of the America people? It is frankly absurd to believe that either of them, let alone both, were willing to risk considerable animosity from the American people over balancing the Federal budget. What is far more likely is the defeat of the Balanced Budget Amendment served as the straw man that gave both Republicans and Democrats in Congress cover and plausible deniability for the vote on Term Limits which was scheduled to immediately follow.
Politicians, especially those that we have dubbed "professional" politicians clearly had a crucial stake in defeating the Term Limits provision of the Contract. Polling data had indicated that Term Limits may have been the single most popular and broadly supported provision in the Contract. If the first nine parts of the Contract had passed, how would it have looked to the people, if the Term Limits provision, the only one whose sole impact was on politicians seeking careers in politics, had been the only provision of the Contract that was defeated? If eighty percent of Americans wanted Term Limits, at least that many Congressmen saw themselves as being within one vote of their own personal Faustian Bargain. The overwhelming success of the Contract brought the Republicans the power they sought, but now it was on the verge of being at the expense of their political souls. Faust would have been envious of the escape contrived by Dole and Hatfield et al. Democrats did not defeat the Balanced Budget Amendment or Term Limits; Republicans did.
"Et tu, Brute?" One of the most famous lines from Shakespeare is Julius Caesar's dying quote, "You too, Brutus?" As architect and Congressional sheppard of the Contract with America, House Speaker Newt Gingrich's silence during the fabrication of the Dole-Hatfield Faustian Bargain was deafening. Hatfield became the Judas who betrayed conservatives and Dole was tasked by the party professionals to be the Judas-goat who would lead the conservative flock through the slaughterhouse doors. By rewarding Bob Dole for his betrayal of conservative Americans with the 1996 Republican nomination, Republican Senators and Congressmen provided a true measure of Republican "professional" politicians' self-serving hypocrisy and displayed a contempt for ordinary Americans that approached that of their Democratic contemporaries. By way of analogy, it would be the equivalent of renewing the contract of the coach who lost the playoff game by benching Michael Jordan in overtime. It conclusively proved that many Republican politicians, even some so-called "arch-conservatives", were willing to put their own desires for political power ahead of the freedom of all Americans.
The reason that Republicans have never had another Contract With America is because Republicans know that any future Contract would be expected to have a Term Limits provision. If Democrats threatened to unite behind Term Limits to politically embarrass Republicans, either Republicans would have to vote to end their own terms in office or risk committing the political equivalent of hara-kiri by defeating it. Republicans have proved that they prefer to risk being a minority party again rather than risk being faced with another vote on Term Limits. Democrats will not be any part of the solution to the problem of cutting government down to size and will oppose any and every effort aimed at restoring the Constitution. But clearly some Republicans have become "professional" politicians and part of the problem.
The Republican Eleventh Commandment: "Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican," is an often quoted interpretation of sentiments expressed by Ronald Reagan. Now it serves as a testament of the fallacies that can result whenever governments or men, even one as visionary as Ronald Reagan, are falsely portrayed as having the omnipotence of God. One of the duties of the Reagan Wing will be to ensure that no socialists can hide behind the so-called "eleventh commandment".
If Democrats are the problem, and Republicans have become enough like Democrats to become part of the problem, is the Tea Party the solution?
The history of third parties in America includes two tragedies. Teddy Roosevelt's third party run in 1912 gave us Woodrow Wilson, the Federal Reserve Act, the Income Tax and took a huge step toward turning our Republic into a democracy. And Ross Perot's Reform Party gave us Bill Clinton. Most Americans do not know that FreeRepublic formed the backbone of the Republican House that made the impeachment of Bill Clinton possible, but there are a lot of Freepers still around that know and remember. I hope those who do will give us a ping.
If Republicans are not the answer, and if third parties are not the answer, what is?
Ten second soundbytes, "It's the economy, stupid," or "We stand for change," can win presidential elections. But it is going to take more than a ten second soundbyte to understand how WE the people can take our country back and restore our lost freedoms. Bookmark this "link" or add your name to our ping list to follow our series of articles that explain how it can be done and what you can do to help.
It is a grassroots movement comprising a plurality of Independents, Libertarians, Blue Dog "Reagan" Democrats, Constitutionalists, Republicans and conservatives whose self-appointed goal is to steer the GOP back onto the firm course of it's long-ago-abandoned Platform Planks.
Treatises that refer to "The TEA Party" as a "third party" miss the mark entirely, are fundamentally flawed, and are completely useless.
Though . . .
NOT quite what I was expecting from the title:
in 1997, the measure again failed by a single vote in the Senate when newly elected Senator Robert Torricelli (DNJ) broke his campaign pledge and refused to support the same BBA that he had supported as a House member
There is a blast from the past. Actually, I have those in my shoes now - they stop my feet from hurthing when I stand for a long time.
The Republicans were a 3rd party and brought us Abe Licoln withe 39.8% of the popular vote.
Very educational. Thanks. I don’t know what the heck we need to do! We need to get the constitution restricting their power and money back or nothing else matters.
I am a part of a small group who believes we have a plan that can restore the Constitution and restrict their power, especially their power over money. We are posting this plan in a series of articles. I have taken the liberty of adding your name to our ping list. You might not agree with everything we advocate, but then again you might.
We believe the alloted grains of sand in America’s hourglass are almost drained. If nobody turns America’s hourglass upside down, we’re done. Our little group is dedicated to turning the current version of America upside down.
We will be grateful for any pings and your liberal use of your own ping list.
Too bad that the vast majority of libertarians do not realize that Western Culture’s demand for self regulation in the name of honor and basic morality, goes with free markets. Otherwise, you have amoral banksters making destructive and dishonest deals with Clinton and Rubin to drop loan standards in order to “equalize” home ownership for race quotas. This in turn, crashes the housing market...and so we are here.
People who are uneducated in Western morals and ethics - the right way to handle oneself in a free society - are people who are soon victims of their own immorality and who are demanding the economic Marxism that naturally goes with the Libertarians’ social Marxism.
OUTSTANDING! Thanks, Vintage Freeper. (I did not know that).
Remember that the House Republicans also backed away from their stated intention to abolish certain House committees because the new chairs wanted to exercise the power that came from being a committee chairman.
God help America. Remove the evil plans made to bring America to a dictator. Tyranny of the minority in the guise of political correctness is strangling America. Bind all programs meant to hurt freedom. In Jesus name. Thank Thee LORD. Amen.
In reply, our goal is to add a third choice, "Reagan Wing Republicans". Its path will bypass the "Slaughter House" door and take us in a new direction.