It is still a little overwhelming when I think about the gains Republicans made in last week’s mid-term elections.
With control of both houses of Congress, 67 state legislative chambers, at least 31 governorships, and a majority of Republican-appointed justices on the U.S. Supreme Court, we have the best chance in many years of producing real governmental reform that restores the constitutional allocation of federal responsibility and competence between the state and federal governments in a way that creates a solid foundation for growth, opportunity and liberty for the rest of this century.
That restoration must move along two tracks simultaneously: one at the state and local level, which restores trust, effectiveness, and responsibility for most domestic governmental functions; and one at the federal level, which restores
- the proper functioning of the legislative branch;
- the constitutional checks and balances among the three branches;
- the proper limits of federal responsibility;
- the effectiveness of the federal government when exercising its proper responsibilities;
- a pro-growth and opportunity national and international economic policy that had been embraced by administrations of both parties for more than a generation;
- a modern interstate infrastructure of roads, bridges, rail-lines, waterways and canals, dams, nuclear power plants, electricity grids, and pipelines to meet the foreseeable needs of the nation for the next several generations;
- the proper limits of the size and responsibility of the administrative agencies that have evolved into a de facto fourth branch of government outside of the constitutional structure; and
- (through the proper exercise of the Senate’s advice-and-consent and oversight responsibilities) the focus of our foreign and military policy toward a more realistic acceptance and exercise of our post-World War II global responsibilities.
In my last posts in August of this year, I provided a philosophic foundation for these reforms, and I will not restate them here. Instead, I’ll just ask you to re-read them: Mercy, Trust, and the Future of the Republican Party; and Mercy, Trust, and the Future of the Republican Party – Part 2.
Although my list of reforms at the federal level is longer, the actual action that we should expect at the federal level will be slower and more limited over the next two years because the task at hand is to reverse the growth of the federal government that has occurred over the last 100 years, and that has exploded over the last 6 years, while we still have a President who is committed to its expansion by any means (constitutional or not) that he chooses.
While our Representatives and Senators fight with patient persistence to hold the line in Washington and proceed with the incremental reforms that are needed, the opportunity for the most far-reaching and effective reforms are at the state and local levels. Following the courage shown by Governors Walker, Snyder and Daniels in the Midwest over the last few years, we must commit ourselves to reform state and local governments so that they can accept the larger responsibilities they must exercise if we are to restore limited government at the federal level. This will require a commitment to govern effectively, efficiently and wisely—but to govern. It will require fundamentally reforming and re-building
- educational systems from the classrooms and the professionalization of teaching, through the school districts and state agencies;
- state budgeting processes;
- the relationship of government employees to the government, including their compensation systems;
- opportunities for education and employment in every neighborhood, including the assimilation of every citizen into our society;
- law enforcement systems that continue no tolerance for “broken windows” while providing meaningful opportunities for first-time offenders (and their families and neighborhoods) to avoid a life of under-education, under-employment caused by over-incarceration;
- a network of public and private agencies to provide health and safety-net systems for the addicted, the poor and the unemployed with the goal of helping them to become (to the extent possible) self-sufficient members of our communities;
- tax policies and systems that raise sufficient revenue to fund the government while promoting growth, but without creating subsidies that pick winners and losers or reward cronies;
- a physical infrastructure of roads, rail-lines, ports, airports, and utilities—and adequate public transportation alternatives in urban areas—to meet the expected growth over the next several generations; and
- most importantly, the trust of our neighbors that state and local governments will function fairly and justly, as well as effectively and efficiently.
I am still an optimist—I believe all of this is doable if we commit to the long struggle it will take to persuade our neighbors of the correctness of our goals, and to the patience it will take to formulate and implement these goals. This election gave us the opportunity to start this process, but we must seize that opportunity—now, the real work begins.
Steve Munisteri publicly confirmed yesterday at the Greater Houston Pachyderm Club what he has been saying privately for several months: he will not serve his entire two-year term until the RPT Convention in 2016. Although he did not say when he would step down, his confirmation means that the SREC will soon choose a new Chair to serve the remainder of Steve’s term.
For me, this is a bitter-sweet moment. Sweet, because the efforts that were started by a handful of us in 2009 to improve the financial and organizational management of the Republican Party at the county and state levels were first realized under the Steve’s leadership at the RPT, and those efforts have now started to bear fruit here in Harris County since the election of Paul Simpson. I am proud to say I supported Steve’s quixotic campaign against the incumbent Chair in 2010, and I am even prouder of his accomplishments—he did what he said he would do, and then some. How rare is that in public life?
Bitter, because I know that his work is not done, and he leaves big shoes to fill. All I can do for now is hope that the candidates who come forward to run for Chair will pledge to continue Steve’s approach to the financial and operational management of the RPT and the Victory campaigns, including his ongoing efforts to grow the party in every community and demographic group in this state. We don’t need to return to the days when we confused cheerleading for leadership—we need to continue the hard work of real leadership that Steve started.
Steve, thank you. I wish you all the best in whatever you choose to do next. You’ve earned my unswerving admiration for all you’ve done.