Live from Monongahela, Pennsylvania, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy rolled out the GOP agenda to be put in place when Republicans take back control of the House in the November midterm elections. Surrounded by a stage filled with Republican members of the House, including House Republican Whip, Steve Scalise, Republican leaders officially kicked off the roll-out of their “Commitment to America.”
Think back to the days of the Republican Revolution in 1994. That year the midterm elections produced an earthquake in American politics. Voters gave Republicans a net gain of 54 seats in the House of Representatives, and a gain of eight seats in the Senate. For the first time in decades, Republicans held the majority in the House and the Senate. A large part of that upheaval is due to the Contract with America, for which then-Georgia congressman and House Republican whip Newt Gingrich is credited. It was introduced six weeks before that year’s midterm elections and a decision was made by Republicans that they would rally behind a single national program and message instead of campaigning on issues in individual districts. It worked and the Republicans then spent their first months in the majority checking off items listed in the Contract with America.
Fast forward to today. House Republicans are hoping to capture lightning in a bottle again. Will it work in 2022? It’s hard to say. The country is more deeply divided and more equally divided than it was, politically speaking, in 1994. Republicans were desperate in 1994 to gain control of Congress after so many years wandering in the political wilderness. In 2022, Republicans have held majorities in the House and Senate in past cycles. Frankly, though they got off to a good start in the Gingrich years, many Republicans eventually morphed into Democrat-lite. The whole reason that Trump won in 2016 was largely due to the fact that voters had been frustrated for years over a uni-party governance. Too often, Republicans in leadership voted to get along with Democrats. That began to change in the Trump years and now we are where we are. Will voters be inspired by the Commitment to America?
The strategy by Republicans this year has been to punch Democrats over their destructive policies that have created all kinds of crises. The Biden administration has been so incompetent and inept in handling the economy, domestic policy, energy policy, national security, and pretty much anything you can think of that they have provided a target-rich environment for Republicans to criticize. However, elections are about the future, not the past, and voters need a reason to vote for a candidate, or a party. Simply criticizing the current officeholders isn’t enough. Republicans have to give voters a reason to vote for them. This Commitment to America provides a roadmap, should Republicans be as victorious in November as many observers expect.
McCarthy and Scalise and other Republicans speaking in Pennsylvania this morning hammered home the problems that most American households are experiencing. And, they noted that the tone-deaf Democrats voted to approve legislation that allows the hiring of 87,000 additional IRS agents instead of Border Patrol agents. The Biden administration priority is on auditing middle class Americans in hopes of finding additional tax payments to support their expensive spending agenda instead of securing the southern border. That is not the same priority of most voters. It’s important that Republicans remind voters of things like this.
The Commitment to America promises that Republicans will fight inflation and lower the cost of living, curbing “wasteful government spending that is raising the price of groceries, gas, cars, and housing” as well as increasing take-home pay, creating jobs that pay well, and stabilizing the economy through “pro-growth tax and deregulatory policies.”
Republicans also committed to maximize the production of American-made energy, reduce gas prices, strengthen the supply chain, and end American dependence on China.
In efforts to make the United States a safe nation, the Republicans promised to secure the border, combat illegal immigration, reduce crime, protect public safety, and defend the United States’ national security by supporting troops and investing in an “efficient, effective military.”
Part of the “Commitment to America” also focuses on a “future that’s built on freedom”—including efforts to promote student success and giving parents a say in their children’s education and defending fairness in women’s sports. And as part of this focus on a future that’s built on freedom, lawmakers also promised to confront Big Tech and demand fairness, as well as to help Americans achieve longer, healthier lives.
To hold the government accountable, Republicans promise to uphold free speech, protect the lives of both unborn children and pregnant mothers, and to protect religious freedom and the Second Amendment.
It’s a good start. It will be important for Republican candidates to be able to talk about how these promises will be kept and how it benefits voters. They can’t just toss out generalities, Republicans need leaders who can articulate the message to voters. Gingrich was good at communicating. McCarthy and Scalise are good but they need to up their game. Elise Stefanik is good and should be given the opportunity to connect with as many voters as possible. She’s young, a new mom, and she comes off as someone who knows how voters live their everyday lives.
As I said, it’s a good start. Republicans need to hit the campaign trail and hammer home positive messages on what they plan to do if they win the House back. Oversight and investigations are important to talk to voters about but most want to know what politicians are going to do that affects their everyday lives. Investigate Biden, Inc. as much as they like (and they should) but don’t solely focus on Hunter Biden’s computers. There are plenty of other things to talk about. Joe Biden deserves to be shellacked as badly as Bill Clinton was in 1994. Perhaps more so.