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I know. I know. The votes are counted. The numbers are in. Bob Livingston will be the next speaker of the House. There’s nothing any of us can do about it.

I don’t care. I’m going to make as much noise about this process as I possibly can until the new speaker is sworn into office and accepts that gavel from Newt Gingrich.

Bob Livingston makes no sense. He’s the wrong choice for the Republicans. He’s the wrong choice for the Congress. And he’s the wrong choice for the United States of America.

I refuse to accept that there is no other way — that it’s too late for a rebellion, a palace coup. After all, that’s the way Livingston got where he is.

Why do I care? Because I don’t think we have much time left to save this country from irreversible decline and fall. No matter what Livingston says, that mission is not a “management” mission — it’s not about understanding the mechanics of legislation, nor the art of compromise — it’s about articulating a vision for real change. It’s about returning to America’s revolutionary roots, to our constitutional heritage. It’s about getting the federal government off our backs.

Does anyone truly believe Bob Livingston is the man for that mission? Is this the best we can offer for the second most powerful position in the United States government?

The very fact that Dick Gephardt has enthusiastically welcomed the nomination of Livingston as speaker should warn every freedom-loving American that their liberties are gravely threatened by this man. He’s ready to give away the store — or at least sell it to the highest bidder.

In this case, the store represents your God-given rights. How is Livingston a threat to our rights?

When his proudest achievements as a legislator involves the forcible confiscation of your property and mine to benefit someone else, he is attacking your rights.

“But, Joe,” you say, “they all do that. How is Livingston any worse than the rest.”

Maybe not much worse. But the fact that he makes no apologies for it — that he boasts about his ability to do more of it by cleverly manipulating the legislative process — is what troubles me. It confirms, at a critical time in our history, that there is no principled or tangible or meaningful opposition to the socialist wealth-redistribution agenda of Washington.

At least Newt Gingrich paid it lip service. Bob Livingston doesn’t even grasp the concept.

I’m warning you. We’re in for it, folks. If Bob Livingston is the next speaker of the House, the impeachment process is over. The 1994 Republican revolution is over. The Reagan revolution is over. We’re back — if we ever left — to a choice between tweedle-dee and tweedle-dum. Guess which one is dum?

The scary part is that we have at the helm of the federal government a power-mad demagogue who will say whatever and do whatever it takes to achieve his goals and the objectives of his extremist ideologue wife.

The only thing that stands in his way — and his metaphorical “bridge to the 21st century” — is the Congress of the United States. Even with the best of leadership, that ain’t much. But under the direction of Bob Livingston, the Congress will be no match for the administration. It hasn’t been, even under the exceedingly clever Gingrich.

So, at this late date, I am calling for the unlikely, the daring, the unpredictable, the risky from the House Republicans. Rethink your commitment to Mr. Pragmatism, Bob Livingston. I’m sure he’s a nice guy. I’m sure he has offered each and every one of you some prize pork for your support. But, hey, you guys ran for office as revolutionaries! You guys told us things would be different if we put you in charge! You guys promised that the days of business as usual were over!

Now Mr. Livingston, I presume, is here to bring them back — to return to the days when being speaker of the House meant buying and selling votes with money provided by the U.S. taxpayers. He’s going to get under that hood and really make that House of Representatives run more efficiently than ever before.

If he succeeds, we’ll all soon be longing for the days of gridlock and government shutdowns. Trust me.

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