Carol Platt Liebau: Reaching Out to the "Fed-Ups"

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Reaching Out to the "Fed-Ups"

Frank Luntz offers some commonsense advice to Republicans:

The path to a GOP majority must be paved with solutions to the real problems of real people. Republicans should talk about expanding health savings accounts and educating Americans about the benefits they offer. They should commit to sunsetting government programs every four years unless continuing them can be justified. They should pledge the investment necessary to develop renewable fuels and alternative energy. They should challenge Democrats to tackle the burgeoning tax code and fight for tax simplification on behalf of hardworking taxpayers.

The problem, of course, is the seductive influence of power. Over time, human nature -- Republican or Democrat -- means that elected officials become enamored of the perks and privileges of power . . . being able to insert earmarks in bills constituting a prime example. It's easy to convince oneself that such perks -- seen as part of the problem when one is seeking election as an outsider -- are A-OK once one is in a position to use them. And using them to maintain popularity and secure reelection seems a lot easier than actually struggling to get something significant done.

With too many years in power, even higher degrees of petty preoccupations take front and center. Where is one's office located? Who's winning the parliamentary maneuver game (significant, but only to the degree it's being used to advance something important)? Before long, politicians find themselves a long, long way from home.

The problem is particularly pronounced in the House, where elections tend to be less competitive and people like John Murtha can roost complacently for years. But the mentality spills over to the Senate, too, and makes it difficult for the elected officials to see beyond the internal Beltway drama of the moment -- much the way that, too often, they have trouble seeing past the blinkered view of The New York Times and Washington Post.


Blogger Bachbone said...

There is litle evidence the GOP learned much from last elections. Trent Lott is still in the GOP Senate hierarchy and making the rounds of Sunday morning Network shows allegedly speaking for conservatives. The president still speaks of pushing an immigration policy that conservatives don't want. The 'Inside the Beltway out of touch with middle America' syndrome extends to both sides of the aisle.

7:44 PM  
Blogger Marshall Art said...

I agree. This is evident in the lack of truly conservative choices for the GOP primaries thus far. I'm hoping it's because it's just too damned early to campaign, but it gives me pause nonetheless.

6:13 AM  

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