A 2010 New Year’s Resolution for My Fellow Republicans

Well, it is that time of year when most of us have unwrapped all of our gifts, eaten too much ham and pumpkin pie, and started to think about making a New Year’s Resolution. We’ve been spending time reflecting and pondering on what aspects of our lives, personal or professional, we would most like to improve.

But today I have a recommended New Year’s Resolution for all of my fellow Conservatives across the country — one that has nothing to do with losing weight, quitting smoking or reading more. Instead, it has everything to do with saving our country.

I am resolving to work with party activists, candidates, elected officials, organizations, donors, and conservative voters across the country to find those issues and ties that bind us as Republicans rather than revert to the internal attacks that will set back our party, and our nation, for decades to come. I am resolving to move forward, and I hope I can count on each of you to join me!

Next year is critical to our political efforts. The 2010 midterm election will give Republicans an opportunity to reconnect with voters across the nation and set the stage for an even stronger 2012 cycle. But before we get distracted by our future hopes for the White House, we have much work to do. With 36 governorships up for election and the ever-important state legislative battles that will help shape the future political landscape through redistricting, our efforts are only just getting underway.

That is why I am resolute in my conviction that we can no longer afford to wage the type of attacking and bitter intra-party battles that have weakened our ability to coalesce as a party in opposition to the wasteful and damaging policies coming out of Washington. That is not to say that we should not engage in spirited primaries in an attempt to put forth the best candidates for the general election. What it does mean is that once a Republican candidate is victorious in the primary, all Republicans should give them their full support. Moreover, this support must not stop after the ballot has been cast.

The days of “not conservative enough” or “too conservative for me” should be erased from our political vocabulary once the primary process is complete. At that stage, we must join together to help our candidates win elections and begin the critical job of stopping the flow of liberal policies coming out of Washington and numerous state capitals across the land.

The challenges ahead are too great for us not to make this resolution together. For if we fail, I fear our nation will pay a hefty price — hopefully not an irreversible one.

So as we approach this new year and reflect upon 2009 and think of ways to improve our situations in 2010, I ask that my fellow Republicans join together to have a respectful debate during our upcoming primary process and then give their full support to our selected nominees even if there remain some philosophical differences. I know this is the approach my father personally took and I cannot think of a better beacon of light than his legacy to help us once again find our way.

Have a safe and prosperous 2010!

©2009 Mike Reagan. If you’re not a paying subscriber to our service, you must contact us to print or Web post this column. Mike’s column is distributed exclusively by: Cagle Cartoons, Inc., newspaper syndicate. For info contact Cari Dawson Bartley. E-mail Cari@cagle.com, (800) 696-7561.

Passage by Pork Rather than Good Public Policy

As families across our nation prepare to celebrate Christmas together, Democrats in the United States Senate and their ringleader, Harry Reid, have been deviously busy once again. They’re working hard to fill taxpayers’ stockings with large lumps of coal in the form of health care reform legislation that will likely decrease the quality of care for Americans, create a flurry of new taxes, and exponentially increase America’s deficit. How is that for holiday cheer?

While Sen. Ben Nelson (D) of Nebraska appeared to be holding out as the Democrats’ 60th vote because of his moral concerns over taxpayer-funded abortions, he suddenly “found the light” when offered an additional $100 million in assistance for Nebraska’s state Medicaid program.

This new provision, negotiated by Harry Reid and Sen. Nelson, will make Nebraska one of only three states to have their Medicaid expansion fully funded, leaving the rest of the country to pick up the tab. This compromising carrot is made all the more disturbing by the cost to the American taxpayer — the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released new information on Sunday saying that this amendment alone will end up costing $1.2 billion over 10 years, hardly chump change.

And in a less obvious bribe, Sen. Nelson also cut a deal to get tax and free breaks for Nebraska’s insurance companies. (Not surprisingly, the Center for Responsible Politics reports that Nelson has been given nearly $650,000 from insurance companies over the past five years — more than any other industry has contributed.) These negotiated breaks are significant, saving companies like Blue Cross/Blue Shield up to $20 million. In other words, even as more tax money will be flowing into Nebraska, considerably less will be flowing out. For all the other states, a bad bill just got that much worse.

But as I wrote just a few weeks ago, a cause for concern in this debate is not only the “what” of the actual legislation itself: it is the “how” we got here. When this debate headed to the Senate after the left wing-led House pushed through its own version of reform, Harry Reid faced an uphill battle in finding the necessary 60 votes. But rather than relying on the actual merits of the legislation, if any such merits actually exist, the Senate’s fearless leader opened the troughs for a pork feeding frenzy…recognizing that his only chance at passage required buying off key Senators.

Now, I am not naïve in this criticism, fully recognizing that when placed in a similar position of power, Republicans in Congress have been guilty of similar activities. Today in Washington, it seems that bribery by tax dollar has become the norm when it comes to moving bills along. But for us taxpayers, that is simply not acceptable.

Senators Reid, Nelson, Landrieu and other Democrats are simply trading their votes, trading their principles, so they can create a cycle of political gain rather than demanding good legislation. Their despicable behavior is meant to secure national “victories” for Democrats while also trying to pacify the growing chorus of opposition to the latest offered health care reform proposal within their own state by masking it with pork, plain and simple.

Today, a lobbyist can face criminal charges for taking an elected representative to lunch or offering small gifts in exchange for votes or attention. President Obama has frequently boasted about his “ground-breaking” efforts to crack down on these types of negotiations. In the Senate, however, it is openly acceptable for intra-congress bribery costing billions of dollars in our tax dollars to take place. Landrieu and Nelson have both gloated over their respective high price tags.

Where’s the honor here? The transparency, good governance, and integrity we were promised? Senate Democrats and President Obama should be ashamed they that have let petty bribes and penny-pinching politics triumph over sense and judgment. How’s that for the true meaning of Christmas?

©2009 Mike Reagan. If you’re not a paying subscriber to our service, you must contact us to print or Web post this column. Mike’s column is distributed exclusively by: Cagle Cartoons, Inc., newspaper syndicate. For info contact Cari Dawson Bartley. E-mail Cari@cagle.com, (800) 696-7561.

The Haze of Copenhagen

Thousands are now gathered in Copenhagen to embark on an aggressive plan to reach a framework for reducing carbon emissions, with the goal of instituting a more formalized, binding agreement within six months.

Now, many others have rightly criticized and written on the faulty research used to support the panic of “global warming” and supposedly retreating icebergs. In the past two weeks, this justified skepticism has gained significant traction in light of the recently released “ClimateGate” e-mails, wherein researchers and peers of the notable Climate Research Unit of East Anglia University appear to concede that climate change is due to natural, not human, activity.

However, in this week’s column I want to pivot around that important debate for a minute to talk about the politics and economics of this week’s climate gathering

Predictably, the United States is the main target of the thousands of protesters, media and conference participants — all more than willing to wave the finger of blame on our nation for all the world’s perceived climate ills. You see, folks in Beijing, Bandung and Bangalore all want the United States to accept stringent restrictions on her own industries without accepting even less stringent restrictions on their own countries.

In one of many possible examples, just Wednesday India reiterated its refusal to accept any sort of binding restrictions limiting carbon emissions for their country — while at the same time demanding an increase in proposed cutbacks for our country!

It seems as though negotiators are utterly ignoring the official projections from the Indian government which indicate that Indian emissions will triple or quadruple in the next 20 years, even as American emissions are projected to drop. Yet we’re not even asking for cuts in Indian emissions, just a slower rate of growth. In a similar position, Chinese leaders have been equally antagonistic to the United States.

Beyond even projections, this idea of the United States as the Great Polluter is increasingly less justified. In recent years, China has risen to become the greatest emitter of greenhouse gases. According to the World Bank, Indonesia clocks in at third, with India, Russia, and Japan also sitting at the top. The U.S. still ranks second, but is the only top-ranked country which has been curbing, rather than increasing, emissions of greenhouse gases.

At the same time, these nations expect astronomical levels of financial assistance from the same countries they claim are not doing enough. Developed, Western nations have proffered a significant $10 billion annually to aid new technologies and industrial developments in developing nations to help them implement emissions changes without severely damaging their economies. But these poorer nations insist that price tag is absurdly low — never mind the global economic recession which has hit Western nations the hardest.

I wonder if any of the 10 percent of Americans looking for jobs today or the millions of others simply trying to make ends meet really want their tax dollars to be directed to ensure that China, Indonesia or India’s economies remain stable while they implement tougher carbon restrictions based on faulty science.

Even if we were to accept the dubious scientific and environmental arguments which have sparked these Copenhagen negotiations, the idea that America should sign a binding legal treaty when other nations are given a free pass is absurd. Not only it is a blatant disregard of our sovereignty, but it would also only lead to the exporting of dirty jobs and industries to China and other privileged-status nations, boosting their economy at the expense of ours and doing nothing to accomplish the treaty’s environmental goals.

The United States must never allow other nations to dictate our interests and objectives. We can, and should, partner with the world in friendship, but all friendships have limits. If the developing nations of the world expect our help, they will have to do their part.

©2009 Mike Reagan. If you’re not a paying subscriber to our service, you must contact us to print or Web post this column. Mike’s column is distributed exclusively by: Cagle Cartoons, Inc., newspaper syndicate. For info contact Cari Dawson Bartley. E-mail Cari@cagle.com, (800) 696-7561.

Harry Reid, Uncensored

On the Senate floor this week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid abused the dignity of his position with yet another desperate attack on Republicans and other Americans who understand the dangers of President Obama’s flawed health care proposal.

Rather than debating the unremarkable “merits” of the Democratic plan, Sen. Reid arrogantly and prematurely declared that he was on the “right side of history” and that the Republicans were on the wrong side. More than that, he insisted these Republicans were the same types of people who opposed ending slavery and giving women the right to vote.

I suppose no one in Sen. Reid’s office could be bothered to learn that it was a Republican president under whom the slaves were freed and that it was Republican President Teddy Roosevelt’s third-party movement which was the first to support women’s suffrage. Who needs facts when you can make wild allegations?

More than that, though, Sen. Reid’s comments display the Democrat’s fundamental inability to sell their health care proposal with real arguments and facts.

Harry Reid would have you believe that Republicans should lose this debate because they are inconsiderate and blind, morally culpable for the failings of our health care system, and as guilty of pushing down their fellow Americans as those who oppressed women and enslaved an entire race. If he’d had more room in his speech, perhaps Republican actions would also have been likened to those which drove American Indians from their homes and interred Japanese-Americans during the Second World War.

Harry Reid would have you believe this, because it’s much easier for him to face than the reality that he’s peddling a flawed version of “reform” which the American people just won’t buy.

The Democratic party controls the White House. They have a considerable majority in the House of Representatives and a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate.

Let’s go through that again. The Democratic Party could, without a single Republican, pass any health care bill they wanted through both houses of Congress and get it signed by a Democratic President. If they cared to, Democrats could cobble together a socialized, single-payer system which covered our insurance bills by selling Maine to Canada, and there’s not a single thing Republican Congressmen, voting completely in unison, could do to stop them.

It is not simply the Republican Party — much less some mythical monster of slavery-loving Republican terror — which is stopping Harry Reid and his posse from passing his beloved monstrosity of a bill. No, the people in his way are ordinary Americans, the same ones who rallied at town hall meetings, who are fighting to preserve their independence in their health decisions and to keep our country from piling on even more debt.

The Republicans are not arguing, as Reid seems to suggest, that our health insurance system is above reform, or — heaven help us — that we are better off with several million people with limited access to health care. No, the Republicans, in concert with the American people, are arguing that this proposed reform is no reform at all, and it will only serve to make our country, and our health care system, worse off than it is now.

Many have asked Sen. Reid to apologize for his crass remarks, something he has adamantly refused to do. Me? His comments were undeniably arrogant, foolish, and undeserved. But if we’re going to push for an apology, let’s push for the ones we really need to hear.

Let’s ask Sen. Reid to apologize for ramming an unwieldy, bureaucratic nightmare of a “reform” bill down the throats of the American people without taking the time to look beyond his liberal talking points for a real solution to the problems.

Let’s ask Sen. Reid to apologize for spending more time behind closed doors playing political games than transparently addressing and debating different aspects of this proposal with the American public.

And then let’s ask Sen. Reid to work with us to find an alternative solution which won’t ration our medical care, weaken our economy, and remove our choices. This country deserves better than what Sen. Reid and the Democratic Party have been offering.

©2009 Mike Reagan. If you’re not a paying subscriber to our service, you must contact us to print or Web post this column. Mike’s column is distributed exclusively by: Cagle Cartoons, Inc., newspaper syndicate. For info contact Cari Dawson Bartley. E-mail Cari@cagle.com, (800) 696-7561.

Getting it Right? A Half-Hearted Afghanistan Strategy Revealed

As many of you will recall, in previous writings I urged President Obama to do the right thing when it came to providing Gen. McChrystal with his requested troop increases in support of the war effort in Afghanistan. And during the early debate over troop levels, I even accepted the president’s request for reasonable time to meet with his advisers to discuss all options available to obtaining military victory in Afghanistan.

Last night, I was pleased and encouraged to see that President Obama heeded the counsel of his generals on the matter of increased troop levels that are so critical to our continuing battle against terrorists and those who house and support them. He has called on us for unity and support, and that is how we should respond.

Sadly, we are already seeing many members of the president’s own political party take exception to an increase in troop levels — many pushing for a retreat from the fight against those who took the lives of so many innocent victims on September 11, 2001 and who are continually plotting for the next great attack against Americans on our home soil and/or abroad. How did so many Democrats forget that fateful day — a mere eight years ago?

This morning, the Taliban and Al Qaeda are on notice that 30,000 more of America’s best and brightest military personnel are gearing up to take the fight against terror to the nearest town, village and even cave to track down and eradicate those who have done or desire to harm America and her interests.

But I do take exception to the fact that the Taliban and Al Qaeda have also woken up to news that this massive American military surge, one that will increase our troop levels to close to 100,000, already has a publicized end date.

Yes, that is correct. Our enemy has been put on notice by the president himself that by July 2011, we will begin pulling back our troop commitments in Afghanistan. What makes this date even more disconcerting is the fact that it will take us several months to implement the 30,000-troop influx that is so central to this new security offensive — hopefully in time for the often-called “Spring fighting season” there.

This means we will begin leaving just a year after all the troops arrive — but conveniently in advance of the beginning of the 2012 election season.

Now I am not a general or even a military historian, but it doesn’t seem to me that it makes any sense to let your enemy know when you are coming and when you plan to leave. All they should need to know is what you plan to do: win. And our troops on the ground need to have the confidence that these decisions and timelines are based on sound military principles rather than political calculation.

Last night, President Obama had a golden opportunity to borrow a line from my father — one that would have brought the house down and instilled more confidence in the plan he appeared half-heartedly to support. All he had to do was announce: “We win — they lose.” But rather, the president’s message and demeanor presented more of a détente approach to American foreign policy, in a speech where he never once made victory our goal.

Gen. David Petraeus, leader of the Iraq surge and now head of U.S. Central Command, acknowledged after President Obama’s speech that there was “tension” between the desire to win the conflict and the desire to pull out quickly. Those desires are both real and understandable, but no one knows better than Gen. Petraeus how much meeting both can sometimes prove impossible.

Moving forward, the American people, Afghan President Karzai, and our NATO allies must now rise to the task before us. But even as I move to follow my president, I can only hope that it is this pattern, rather than political timelines, which he follows in the next two years.

To the men and women who now bravely go to serve, you have my deepest thanks, hopes, and prayers. You are the soul of this country, and your service will not go unmarked.

©2009 Mike Reagan. If you’re not a paying subscriber to our service, you must contact us to print or Web post this column. Mike’s column is distributed exclusively by: Cagle Cartoons, Inc., newspaper syndicate. For info contact Cari Dawson Bartley. E-mail Cari@cagle.com, (800) 696-7561.

Louisiana Purchase, Part Deux

Unsurprisingly, President Obama has recently realized early legislative success in pursuit of his massive government-heavy health care program. Sen. Harry Reid pushed the initial legislation to the Senate giving our representatives very little time to review the bill in advance of the first vote opening up further debate.

In attempting to clear this initial procedural hurdle, Sen. Reid and the Obama administration could not find the support of a single Republican Senator and were also having difficulty in rounding up even the necessary 60 votes, all of which would have to be Democrats, to advance the legislation.

Now, most taxpayers would hope that in pursuit of the 60 votes the administration and Senate Democrats would use the merits of the legislation as the basis for their swaying of members of their own party. Sadly, that simply is not the case.

Rather, bribes in the form of earmarks ended up being the carrot that lured in the final votes on a critical piece of legislation that may dramatically impact the future of our nation’s health care…and our nation’s debt.

Take, for example, Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, one of the last Senate holdouts who only joined her fellow Democrats hours before the controversial vote. What was it that drew Sen. Landrieu to vote in support of the legislation? Was it her comfort with the cost, or perhaps her satisfaction that the concerns of her constituents had been satisfied?

Sadly, the answer lies with a seemingly minor provision added to the health care legislation, which currently takes two pages to write up a description of which states would qualify for an influx of $100 million additional dollars in federal Medicaid subsidies, using phrases such as “certain states recovering from a major disaster.” All two pages make it so that the only state which could qualify is Louisiana. Sen. Landrieu says the funds will total to $300 million ($100 million in disaster relief and $200 in Medicaid).

But if you thought the esteemed senator would feel the least bit ashamed of how her decision was made, think again. In her floor speech, after accusations that her vote was bought, Senator Landrieu said: “I will correct something. It’s not $100 million, it’s $300 million, and I’m proud of it and will keep fighting for it.”

But the waste and hidden vote purchases are not confined to Sen. Landrieu and the Democrats’ 21st Century Louisiana Purchase. A July piece by The Boston Globe uncovered a provision in both the Senate and House versions of the bill which would designate large sums of money (up to $1.6 billion each year in the House version) to improve the nation’s “health infrastructure.” The proposal will cover community grants for such things as bike paths, jungle gyms, sidewalks, lighting, farmer’s markets, etc., as a “preventative” health measure.

Certainly preventative health care is a worthy topic for discussion, but is a “reform” of our health care system really the appropriate place to spend billions on children’s playgrounds?

Earmarks and “pork” are not new in Washington politics. However, earmarks and pork required to get Democrats to support a Democratic-authored health care reform bill should tell us all we need to know — that even internally, many Democrats recognize that Americans do not support their effort to further empower the federal government and drive up the national debt all in the name of faux “reform.”

The time has come for Americans of every political persuasion to stand up and demand that our representatives seriously debate the ramifications of this health care legislation rather than trying to find ways to get compensated for their votes. Perhaps the clearest way to send that message is to send Sen. Landrieu packing. After all, in the actual Louisiana Purchase, Thomas Jefferson managed to purchase half the county for twenty times less than it took for Sen. Landrieu to give it all away!

©2009 Mike Reagan. If you’re not a paying subscriber to our service, you must contact us to print or Web post this column. Mike’s column is distributed exclusively by: Cagle Cartoons, Inc., newspaper syndicate. For info contact Cari Dawson Bartley. E-mail Cari@cagle.com, (800) 696-7561.

Stimulus Equals Deception

It seems the president has a new trick up his sleeve to convince us his bloated “stimulus” packages are solving our economic woes: deception.

ABC News called out the Obama administration the other day when, on the official Recovery.gov Web site, the administration reported “jobs added” in Congressional districts which didn’t even exist.

Now, those responsible for the Web site say they’re just reporting the number they’re given, and Vice President Biden has told them to fix it. So that’s all good, right? We’re in the clear; the president is on top of it…

Not likely.

This is the transparency we were promised? Huge sums of money going to clearly unknown places to create clearly nonexistent jobs? In Oklahoma alone, this Web site tells us $19 million went to parts nonexistent. $11 million in Iowa. $48 million to Puerto Rico. $34 million in Arizona. $140.5 million in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

That is, we think. But as none of the districts mentioned in Oklahoma, Iowa, Arizona, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands seem to exist on any Congressional map, we really have no idea. Perhaps we’re stimulating Tolkein’s Middle Earth, instead!

Even these fictional stimulus projects seem unable to do much. That $19 million in Oklahoma only managed to create 15 jobs. Nice salaries, those.

This isn’t simply a matter of changing a few numbers on a Web site, a mistyped district there, an extra “4″ over there. No, this is a desperate floundering to appear to meet unmet promises.

Even in the real districts, these numbers, this great transparency we’ve been offered, mean nothing. If someone thinks a transaction saved someone a job, it gets counted. Not only is that job hypothetical, it’s also one of those “saved” jobs, not actually new employment created. Not even the slightest bit of help to an unemployment rate higher than anything we’ve seen in over two decades.

There’s talk of yet another stimulus to “create jobs.” Are we supposed to have simply forgotten that creating jobs was the stated purpose of the last stimulus?

The most recent package promised to “create or save” 3.5 million jobs by next year. Even the unbelievable Recovery.gov doesn’t believe that has happened. Moreover, 90 percent of those jobs were supposed to have been created in the private sector. Instead, most of the jobs we’re seeing claimed are in fact public sector jobs, and there have been multiple challenges to the accuracy of those reports.

And as more and more taxpayer money goes to unnecessary and inefficient projects, we are only told that the effort is working, we’re saving jobs and President Obama has us on the right track.

He might need a little bit more of your money to get us all the way there, of course, but that’s only because what we’re doing is accomplishing so much.

I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of this. Real people are struggling to keep their jobs and to make ends meet. Real people are circling ad after ad in the Sunday paper praying this time, please, let it work. Real people are seeing their tax dollars frittered away on foolishness. Real people and real problems should not be made into political semantics.

On one level, it makes for an entertaining story. Heard the one about my brother-in-law taking one of those stimulus jobs? Yeah, he had to move to Missouri’s 83rd District to take it. It was only after he arrived he found Missouri only had nine.

Yet on every other level this is the sad story, already grown stale in the repeating, of an administration which promises things it cannot deliver and then backs away from responsibility.

©2009 Mike Reagan. If you’re not a paying subscriber to our service, you must contact us to print or Web post this column. Mike’s column is distributed exclusively by: Cagle Cartoons, Inc., newspaper syndicate. For info contact Cari Dawson Bartley. E-mail Cari@cagle.com, (800) 696-7561.

A Lost Message and a Lost Opportunity

This past week I have been in Europe to help commemorate the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. I went into this trip with a great deal of enthusiasm and an expectation that the heroes responsible for that momentous event be justly recognized. Sadly, I was instead reminded of how much we have willingly forgotten.

Over the past several months, the Reagan Legacy Foundation has been working hard to ensure that Berliners remember the vital role my father played in bringing down the wall and defeating communism. Amazingly, there are no major statues, memorials or tributes to Ronald Reagan — the president, the man who sided with freedom over tyranny. Thankfully, in partnering with the “Checkpoint Charlie” museum, we have now unveiled a Ronald Reagan permanent exhibit to help educate Berliners and their international guests of what would have been an unpardonable omission in modern historical analysis of that period.

During these ceremonies I fully expected the legends of this period to be honored…to at least be mentioned. But over the course of this celebration that included fireworks and a re-enactment of the fall of the wall, I heard nary a mention of Ronald Reagan or Margaret Thatcher. This was both frustrating and alarming.

One only has to review modern education textbooks to see that this omission is not limited to an important celebration on a cold Berlin night. Rather, it is a trend — a trend that is removing the reference of the great heroes and leaders of the Cold War battle and replacing it with a softer, perhaps less controversial revision.

Last year, a German study revealed how disturbingly little German youths understand about their divided history just a generation back. Two-thirds of the schoolchildren surveyed did not believe East Germans lived under a dictatorship. Nearly as many thought the East German economic system was preferable to West German’s. Communism, preferable?!

When we allow such a travesty, we disregard not only who the heroes were, but that there was ever any need for heroism at all. The Berlin Wall did not simply divide a city. The focus of Monday’s celebrations should have been life and freedom, not unity.

The facts are what they are. We cannot and must not forget that the Soviet Union murdered and oppressed millions of people before, during and after World War II in an effort to conquer more territories, gain more resources and grab more power. And while the world trembled, a select few leaders of that era finally took a stand in defense of freedom-loving people who lived under separate and distinct flags.

Germans are not the only ones who have forgotten. This lazy softening of history is equally a problem in our American classrooms. According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, American students test worse in history than they do in any other subject. A survey in 2007 concluded fully a third of 17-year-old American students did not know that the Bill of Rights guarantees our freedoms of religion and speech.

These are the principles our nation’s veterans have fought and died for over the centuries, on our own soil and across an ocean, in places like Germany. These are the principles for which men and women like Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher made such courageous stands. This is the bedrock of who are, who we have been, and who we must remain in the future.

Thomas Jefferson told us, “Enlighten the people generally, and tyranny and oppression of body and mind will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day.”

I was proud to stand there and remember the fall of that terrible Wall. But until we remember in full, we leave ourselves open and vulnerable to the seditious creep of socialism, communism, and oppression.

©2009 Mike Reagan. If you’re not a paying subscriber to our service, you must contact us to print or Web post this column. Mike’s column is distributed exclusively by: Cagle Cartoons, Inc., newspaper syndicate. For info contact Cari Dawson Bartley. E-mail Cari@cagle.com, (800) 696-7561.

What a Difference a Year Makes!

One year ago Barack Obama turned the political establishment upside down with a resounding national election that, according to so-called experts, spelled the end of influence and legitimacy for the GOP for years, perhaps decades to come. However, a mere 12 months later, Republicans have dramatically turned around their fortunes with two high-profile gubernatorial victories in Virginia and New Jersey — both by comfortable margins.

In Virginia, Republicans won the top three offices (Governor, Lt. Governor, and Attorney General) in Virginia by sweeping margins. Republican Bob McDonnell won the gubernatorial race by a shattering 17 percent margin over Democrat Creigh Deeds.

Not only did McDonnell win in the vast majority of Virginia counties, but he also won in the three largest suburban counties: Fairfax, Loudoun, and Prince William, which trend Democratic and which Obama won by significant margins. He also took Obama successes among independents and turned it around to win 63 percent of those voters.

And while many Democrats now point to exit polls that indicate President Obama and his policies were not the driving force behind this phenomenon, the Democratic candidate there had a different take. In an interview in October, Creigh Deeds (D) blamed, in part, the Democrats’ national agenda as he trailed Bob McDonnell (R) in Virginia’s gubernatorial race. “Frankly, a lot of what’s going on in Washington has made it very tough,” he said.

In New Jersey, Republican Chris Christie ousted incumbent Democrat Jon Corzine. The margin of victory was the largest by a New Jersey Republican in a statewide race in 25 years.

Christie was significantly outspent by Corzine, who also had the advantage of having the full support of the White House and President Obama campaigning for him regularly. The victory was a 20-point reversal of Obama’s victory in 2008. Exit polls say Christie won 58 percent of independent voters.

So what does this mean for Republicans nationwide?

First, I believe that this demonstrates that after a couple of dismal cycles, Republican voters are once again energized and ready to work hard so that Republican candidates gain traction nationwide.

Next, the numbers in Virginia and New Jersey show the success Conservative candidates are having with Independents/Reagan Democrats in these key states – setting the stage to capitalize on these gains in the 2010 mid-terms and beyond.

Lastly, I believe that moderate Democrats will have a much tougher time supporting the Progressive agenda being pushed by the White House after seeing the president fail to bolster the struggling Gov. Corzine in a state the president carried by 20 points just a year ago. Thus, Republicans must recognize this potential dynamic and taking advantage of it to pursue more moderate and acceptable policies rather than those being promoted by the president, Speaker Pelosi or Leader Reid.

Political fortunes can swing — and swing rapidly. Just as the landscape seemed so inviting to Democrats one year ago, fortunes could once again swing back in their direction at the drop of the proverbial hat. This is especially true if Republicans fail to take advantage of the political opportunities in front of them.

It is time for Republicans to not only oppose the big government and big spending programs being proposed by national Democrats, but to also push forward their own ideas and their own agenda so that 2010 voters have a true alternative to the Democrats’ increasingly unpopular path forward.

We need our Republican leaders to put forward these sound solutions for practical governance, returning power to local governments and voters. On health care, immigration and energy, conservative values offer us commonsense solutions. Even ideas that are unlikely to see much debate time under the current president will ring out in the next election, as they did last night.

2009 was just the beginning.

©2009 Mike Reagan. If you’re not a paying subscriber to our service, you must contact us to print or Web post this column. Mike’s column is distributed exclusively by: Cagle Cartoons, Inc., newspaper syndicate. For info contact Cari Dawson Bartley. E-mail Cari@cagle.com, (800) 696-7561.

A Fresh Change and a New Beginning?

Next Tuesday, November 3, voters across the nation will take to the polls in the first elections since President Obama’s inauguration.

At stake are critical state legislative races across our nation that will determine future redistricting boundaries, as well as important gubernatorial races in high-profile states. But Conservatives must also recognize that what is at stake goes beyond these tangible election results — the results will be rightfully viewed as a voter referendum on President Obama, the Democrat-led Congress and their progressive agenda.

This is why it is essential for Conservatives across our nation to get to the polls and pull the lever for Republican candidates — even if you don’t see eye to eye on every important issue with that particular candidate. This important moment requires Conservatives to come together and unite behind our diverse pool of candidates so that we can direct our energy toward the defeat of Democrats nationwide.

The two races that will deservedly garner the most attention next Tuesday are the elections for governor in New Jersey and Virginia.

In New Jersey, the Republican challenger, former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie, has been garnering significant support for a traditionally blue state with an incumbent Democratic governor.

Throughout most the last several months, polls showed Christie with a small lead, some of which has dissipated lately, as Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine has caught up and, in some polls, regained the lead. Christie has also struggled against Chris Daggett, a late-coming third-party candidate for governor. Since his announcement he has seen steady and sizable gains, polling as high as 17 percent, and has directly contributed to Gov. Corzine’s gains.

With President Obama having heavily stumped for Gov. Corzine, and given that the state went to the president by a 56.8 percent to 42.1 percent margin, Chris Christie has fought a rough battle, a battle which he can win, if we can see the importance of getting each and every Conservative and Libertarian-leaning New Jerseyan to the polls. Failure to do so will lead to the continued tax increases, budget shortfalls and excessive spending that have heavily contributed to the rapid decline of the state’s economy, and will give national Democrats an important win to bolster their pursuit of dangerous domestic policies.

In Virginia’s governor’s race, Attorney General and Republican Candidate Bob McDonnell is realizing significant gains over his Democratic opponent Creigh Deeds as they head into the home stretch — holding a double-digit lead in some polls. What makes these numbers even more impressive, and a bit surprising, is the fact that just last year President Obama stunned the political world by capturing Virginia by a comfortable 6 percent. The Democrats’ recent electoral success there alone should give Conservative Virginians all the motivation they need to get to the polls and reclaim their state.

And in Virginia, history is on the side of the Bob McDonnell. In every Virginia gubernatorial election since 1977, the voters have elected a governor from the opposition party of the recently-elected president, no matter how high a margin of victory that president had, including even my father, Ronald Reagan.

But we cannot rely on history to write itself. Nothing about these elections is guaranteed for us. The candidates have done their part, travelling around their fine states reaching out to voters. Now the responsibility lies with us.

Will we stand up and send a powerful message to President Obama and the Democrats in Washington that we are not fooled by their empty promises? Will we show the pundits that the Republican brand is neither dead nor defeated, but that the conservative principles we hold are vital for today?

The last time we had a newly-elected Democratic president, Bill Clinton, two Republicans won election as the governors of New Jersey and Virginia. The next year, Republicans swept into elected office in Washington in the ‘Republican Revolution of 1994,’ reinvigorating the national debate and rewriting the legislative agenda.

My friends, it’s time for another revolution. And it all starts next Tuesday when you step inside the election booth.

©2009 Mike Reagan. If you’re not a paying subscriber to our service, you must contact us to print or Web post this column. Mike’s column is distributed exclusively by: Cagle Cartoons, Inc., newspaper syndicate. For info contact Cari Dawson Bartley. E-mail Cari@cagle.com, (800) 696-7561.