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Those who aspire to leadership without the necessary qualifications
deserve the contempt delivered up to them by the public. This column is
addressed not to the Republican leadership — for they hear only the
voice of their puppet-master pollsters. Rather, it is to the growing
number of principled men and women who are the rank-and-file of the
Republican Party — and serve with decency and integrity.
No great war is ever fought without casualties, and so it is in
politics. Ask those in the House who voted for impeachment, for they
bear the wounds wrought by holding firm to their principles.
Instrumental in their wounding was their own leadership, which betrayed
them. When the war is being lost, the leadership — whether civilian or
military — must be changed. So it is with the Republican Party now.
This may require drastic action. It may even require that the troops
withdraw from the battlefield and abstain from key votes — enabling a
Democratic victory. It may require that a party of a different name be
embraced by those who already call themselves Republican — giving it
respectability and creating an instant plurality in the Congress. Who
can tell what the effect of twenty to forty congressmen and women
standing on the capitol steps — announcing in front of the television
cameras — their switch to a small but principled party that has labored
in obscurity for years? Such a party would gain instant national
recognition and credibility. It would have incumbents to fundraise for
and reelect. Suddenly, it would exist.
Here, then, are the reasons the Republican Party — because of its
leadership — is scorned by Americans.
The preeminent requirement of one in leadership is vision. My
dictionary defines vision as “unusual competence in discernment
or perception; intelligent foresight: a man of vision.” Far back
in antiquity, the prophet Isaiah warned the people of his time, “Where
there is no vision, the people perish.”
Yet what vision has the Republican leadership in the Congress
demonstrated? A little less public broadcasting and legal aid than the
Democrats? Not quite so fast toward socialized medicine as the
Democrats? The world’s policeman with our troops, but for not quite so
long as the Democratic president has planned? More aid to Russia and
freer-still trade with Communist China — even as it persecutes
Christians and threatens Taiwan — but not quite so free as purposed by
Bill Clinton? Tax cuts for all — but to what visionary end?
Republicans, it would seem, have yet to recover from the presidency
of George Bush, who expressed contempt for “the vision thing.” And why
not? After all — what need of vision had Mr. Bush? Was not his life
handed to him on the silver spoon of the oilfields?
Principled leaders act in the way they have revealed during their
campaigns and in their past public and private lives. The dictionary
defines principles as “a basic truth, law, or assumption.” The presence
of principles in a leader’s life provides assurance to followers that
their leader will oppose laws and actions that undermine those
principles, and support activity that strengthens and uphold those
Principled leaders enable a nation to get on with its business.
Voters can have confidence that their leader will vote and act in
accordance with his or her principles. Constant monitoring and lobbying
is unnecessary when one elects principled men and women to positions of
In an important sense, the Senate vote on Bill Clinton’s impeachment
demonstrated “principles in action.” Many Republicans who voted to
convict, did so based on their principles that perjury and obstruction
of justice by the president were wrong. Those Republicans who voted to
acquit demonstrated that they do not share those principles.
Democrats, on the other hand, voted as a block to acquit —
demonstrating that their entire party holds contempt for the concept of
law and the accountability of those in power. They have demonstrated
their overriding principle: might makes right.
The Republican failure was in its leadership. Majority Leader
Trent Lott designed a process that would fail to convict. He
conspired with those who shared his principles to implement the process.
This the press referred to as “bipartisan.” Thus Mr. Lott demonstrated
his principles — just as the House Managers did, in paying the
political price for bringing a case before a body that had conspired to
break its oath as a body, individually and collectively.
The third reason that Republicans are despised by the American people
are that even when they are given the opportunity to provide leadership,
they are unable to deliver the goods. The historic 1994 Republican
Congress had the opportunity to practice what they preached: smaller,
less-intrusive federal government, lower taxes, and greater individual
But without Republican collusion, public broadcasting, which is
largely propaganda for the far left’s pet causes, would have ceased to
exist. The towering federal bureaucracy at the Department of Education
would have been toppled, freeing state and local money to go into
education programs that might actually work, instead of increasing the
army of Democratic campaign workers who are public school teachers and
administrators in their spare time.
Had the Republican leadership demonstrated vision, principles, and
action –the impeachment and trial of Bill Clinton would have been
unnecessary — for he would never have been re-elected in 1996. The fact
that Americans preferred an immoral liar to leadership as expressed by
the Republican Party speaks volumes about their prospects in the year