Thursday, November 7, 2002

GOP Victory, GOP Responsibility

GOP Victory, GOP Responsibility

Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
November 7, 2002

My fellow Americans:

Tuesday, November 5 proved to be an historic night for the Republican Party. While the party in control of the White House typically loses seats in a mid-term election, the GOP managed to dodge that bullet and actually gain seats in both houses.

Michael Steele made history in Maryland by becoming the first black to win statewide office as the Republican won the Lieutenant Governor’s position. Linda Lingle made history in Hawaii as the first woman elected Governor of the Aloha State – and as a Jewish Republican to boot. Republicans are entitled to celebrate, but not gloat.

Democrats Walter Mondale of Minnesota and Kathleen Kennedy Townsend of Maryland, for example gave gracious concession speeches. Victorious Republicans Norm Coleman and Robert Ehrlich from those same two states respectively were classy in claiming victory.

(I will take just a moment to gloat – not as a Republican relishing the moment, but for correctly picking GOP candidates to emerge victorious in the Minnesota senate race, as well as in the Hawaii and Maryland gubernatorial races. I picked 25 winners out of 31 competitive races around the nation – an 81 percent success rate – better than most of the so-called experts. Those numbers will jump to 26 and 84 percent if Bob Riley is declared the winner over incumbent Donald Siegelman in the Alabama gubernatorial race. Riley leads by just under 3,200 votes in an election where over 1.3 million votes have been cast and a winner has not been declared.)

Deer In the Headlights

The Democrats did not appear organized as a national party. They did not look forward, but instead, looked behind by calling upon candidates from the party’s past to lead – losing elections with the likes of Mondale and in North Carolina with former Clinton aide Erskine Bowles. (Mondale lost partly because of that disgraceful display at the memorial service turned political rally for the late Senator Paul Wellstone.) The Democratic Party made it its goal, albeit an unsuccessful one, to not only defeat Gov. Jeb Bush in Florida, but also embarrass his brother the President in the process. That failed by a wide margin. Clinton’s HUD Secretary Andrew Cuomo couldn’t even get out of the starting blocks (read primary) in his effort to unseat George Pataki as Governor of New York. Where the Clintons and Al Gore campaigned typically translated into defeat for Democratic candidates. This is not gloating, just truthful.

A truth recognized by Missouri Congressman, and House Minority Leader Richard “Dick” Gephardt, who announced he would relinquish his leadership post. He will more than likely be succeeded by California liberal Democrat and Minority Whip Nancy Pelosi, proving that the Democratic Party is moving in the wrong direction. She will be challenged, no doubt unsuccessfully, by moderate Democrat Martin Frost from Texas. (Personally, I hope Pelosi wins and Frost switches parties. A Pelosi win will clearly demonstrate how out of touch that party’s leadership truly is.)

Only retreads Frank Lautenberg in New Jersey and former Clinton Energy Secretary Bill Richardson in New Mexico won, and won handily. Lautenberg, thanks to the timely efforts of Robert Torricelli’s dropping out of the race and the NJ State Supreme Court deciding to rewrite the law, will return to the Senate – a body he repudiated upon leaving it several years ago. Richardson will become the Land of Enchantment’s first Latino governor.

Republicans had more success trotting out their retreads as former cabinet members Elizabeth Dole and Lamar Alexander will replace retiring GOP Senators Jesse Helms and Fred Thompson from North Carolina and Tennessee respectively. The other retiring Senate Republican, Phil Gramm of Texas, will also be replaced by a Republican, John Cornyn.

Responsibility On GOP Shoulders

With victory in hand, it is now time to roll up our sleeves and get to work. Be careful what you wish for, says the adage, you just may get it. The GOP, thanks to a combination of principles, forward-looking candidates and the support of a popular president, will now control both the Senate and the House of Representatives. Responsibility lies squarely upon Republican shoulders.

There can be no finger pointing. There can be no assigning of blame. The ball is fully in the court of the GOP to actually get something done. Now is the time for the Republican Party to responsibly advance its agenda. The nation has spoken. It has not given the GOP an overwhelming mandate – after all, the Senate is 51 percent Republican and the House is 52 percent Republican. What the American people have done is call for an end to gridlock. It has given the Republican Party two years to put forth a solid effort and demonstrate that it is looking toward the future.

Welfare reform should be expected. Permanent tax cuts should be passed that will no doubt help stimulate economic growth. Keeping more money in the hands of the people who work to earn it promotes investing and spending – putting the money to work instead of in the hands of the government. A permanent repeal of the estate tax will be pushed for. There will be support for raising the ceiling on retirement savings accounts such as IRAs.

The confirmation of judges appointed by President Bush should be expected. A ban on partial birth abortion will be more vigorously pursued with the coming reconfigured Congress. Expect to see the creation of the Homeland Security Department and a bolstered military force as the nation faces potential war against Iraq.

Keeping Eyes Open

A Homeland Security Department should call for stricter requirements for foreigners applying for any kind of visa – education, travel or work. The Justice Department announced that as of Nov. 15 males ages 16 and older from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan and Syria would be photographed and fingerprinted. The Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee denounced the plan. I agree with the AAADC. All foreigners entering the United States should be photographed and fingerprinted. None of the Sept. 11 hijackers came from any of those five countries. What is to prevent people from one nation from securing identification saying they are from a country aside from the five listed. A criminal history, if any, should also be known to American authorities prior to being granted admission to this country, for any reason. After all, several members of the al Qaeda hijackers who killed nearly 3,000 Americans and foreign nationals were actually in this country legally.

I’ve made this assertion often before now and I will make it again – this not the second half of the 19th Century. During that time immigrants came from central, eastern and southern Europe, but needed sponsors and promise of employment when they arrived on American shores. They were subject to medical exams and in jeopardy of being turned away for any number of maladies. There were no social programs for new immigrants to latch on to – they had to work. And they learned to speak English. Many of those requirements no longer exist. And it has become politically incorrect to expect foreigners to learn English. This nation is experiencing a balkanization in the classroom and in American society in general.

More and more Americans object to that balkanization. So much so, that a ballot initiative was approved with over 70 percent support to replace bilingual education with English immersion for immigrant school children. Just where did that vote take place? Utah? No. South Carolina? No. Anyone guess ultra-liberal Massachusetts? Gold star if you did. Arizona and California have previously passed similar measures, much to the chagrin of immigrant groups.

Continuing Agenda and Reality

While it is the goal to see smaller government and more money staying in the pockets of its earners, the government will also recognize its responsibility to help those who need it most with the expansion of federally funded community health centers to serve the uninsured. But make no mistake, this should not become an outlet for illegal aliens to steal free healthcare.

This government must crackdown on the flow of illegal aliens storming across our borders. There are 13 million illegals roaming the country unchecked. The INS – the Incompetent Naturalization Safe-haven is so understaffed the borders are like sieves. Sadly, too much of the staff is so corrupt that the likes of accused associate sniper John Lee Malvo found his way across the border illegally, should have been sent back to his country of origin, but was allowed to roam free due to the closing of a blind eye by the border patrol.

To be fair, the blame is to be shared by Democrats and Republican alike who refuse to support assigning US troops to man the borders. Even since the sniper attacks in the Washington, DC metropolitan area liberals like Ted Kennedy and conservatives like Jack Kemp oppose placing federal troops on the borders. Too many political leaders are afraid to lead and are too concerned with political correctness for fear of losing, predominantly Hispanic votes, but ethnic votes in general.

In spite of politicians fear or unwillingness to do what’s right, a recent Fox News Channel survey indicated over 75 percent of those asked support putting the military on the borders. Additionally, high praise goes to soon to be Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS) for publicly declaring his support for having troops on the borders. Tell Sen. Lott he does not stand alone. Call his Capitol Hill office at 202-224-6253 while it is still his office, or e-mail him at Call or e-mail your own Senators or Congressmen and ask them to support putting troops on the borders.

Clearly the task at hand is challenging, but not daunting. The Republicans have two years to accomplish their lofty goals and the Democrats will be fighting every step of the way, just as they did in 1994 when the GOP gained control of the House after being in the minority for 40 years. During the campaign of 1996 the Democrats wanted to know why the Republicans had not revolutionized the country – quite the unreasonable expectation after only two years in power after a 40-year hiatus. Fortunately the Senate has not been out of Republican hands for that long. As the 1980 Ronald Reagan presidential campaign slogan said, “the time is now.” We’ll be watching.

Sanford D. Horn is a writer living in Alexandria, VA.

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