View The Best of Health Care Floor Debates in a larger map
This is actually a really neat feature, put together by the office of Congresswoman Cathy McMorris-Rodgers. Click on a representative’s district, and see highlights of that representatives speech on the House floor from this past weekend.
I know it’s easy to see this group of Republicans, backs to the wall, and dismissing them as if they’re saying what they need to say and doing what they need to do in order to get by, or in order to get re-elected. In some cases, I can see it, and in the case of the GOP as a whole, I know that recent history hasn’t exactly left us with ample reason to, well, trust.
The thing is, when I watched that debate from a hotel room bed in Fredericksburg, VA, I saw something different. In fact, I’ve been seeing something different for a while now. Of the House floor speeches, my favorites were those of Indiana Congressman Mike Pence, and Wisconsin’s Paul Ryan. Another guy who did exceptionally well was Eric Cantor. And, frankly, despite all of his prior shortcomings as leader, I’m even starting to believe in the true commitment of John Boehner.
For a long time, I was convinced that Boehner had shown his true colors in the latter half of George W. Bush’s second term in the abandonment of free market principles and adoption of spendthrift ways usually reserved for Democrats, and that he was only masquerading as a conservative for reason of political expediency. Now, though, I see something very, very different in him. I see something different in many of them.
When I talked with Mike Pence a few months ago, he assured me that he and the others understand where they went wrong. He explained that some fought against that slide away from conservatism and some did not, but many–not all, mind you–have seen what the other side wants, have realized firsthand what the other side is willing to do to achieve their goals, and if they did not before, now understands wholeheartedly the need to return to a system of limited government.
I see folks who have learned. And, more importantly, I see a newly vigilant American people who will ensure that they don’t lose their way again. On Tuesday, as I did some schoolwork at my computer, I actually enjoyed watching the debate on the Senate floor, streaming live at C-SPAN’s Web site. Yesterday, I discovered at work that I was not alone, that people who had never before been involved at any level were also watching C-SPAN and enjoying it. Oh, I see a difference, all right.
Now, I don’t think I’ll ever call myself a “Republican,” and I certainly don’t intend to be a blind apologist for a party that so quickly abandoned its core principles and, led by folks like John McCain and Lindsey Graham, ran afoul of conservatism in general. But much in the way that a child who burns their finger on a hot stove will never touch that stove again, I see a group of people who have learned, and who are yearning for a chance to make things right.
Add to that some fantastic young blood like Marco Rubio and Paul Ryan and even relative unknowns like Michael McPadden and some of the other congressional candidates interviewed by John Feeny here at America’s Right, and I see good things in America’s future, even as dismal as it may seem. At this point, confronted by darkness at every turn, we have no choice — it’s revival, frankly, or self-destruction.
We needed a kick in the ass back in the 1770s, and that kick in the ass brought us the American Revolution. We needed a kick in the ass in the late 1970s, and that kick in the horse’s ass brought us Ronald Reagan. We needed a kick in the ass in the 1990s, and that brought us the too-short-lived Republican Revolution. Well, we have a kick in the ass like no other right now, and we need to answer that kick with a little shove of our own.
The bottom line, though, is that whatever comes of this conservative resurgency needs to be lasting change, and change for the better. It needs to be the long-term return to our foundational principles of strong defense, limited federal government, and a tendency to err on the side of individual freedom and the free market. From what I see from a conservative Republican Party vigorously fighting an uphill battle while wearing rollerskates, I think that we have a core group of people in place to make that happen.