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Willisms

« Reform Thursday: Social Security, Chart One. | WILLisms.com | Introducing Guest Blogger Duncan Wilson. »

The Enduring Revolution: How the Contract with America Continues to Shape the Nation.

Was 2004 a realigning election? Did it mark a fundamental shift in American politics?

A new book, The Enduring Revolution: How the Contract with America Continues to Shape the Nation, details the lasting significance of the 1994 Congressional elections in policy and politics.

Major Garrett, Fox News reporter, argues that 2004 was not an electoral realignment. 1994 was. 2004 was just the continuation of the Republican Revolution of 1994, a major political shift that has been largely downplayed and marginalized because of Clinton's reelection victory just two years later over Bob Dole, and because of the perception that America was an evenly divided nation.

Garrett writes (you can read the first chapter online):

"The America we live in now is a reflection in more ways of the 104th Congress than it is of the presidencies of Bill Clinton or George W. Bush. Indeed, that Congress radically altered the political course of Clinton’s presidency and laid the intellectual and political foundation for Bush’s. The presidents might have signed the laws, but the 104th Congress either proposed those laws directly or set in motion the process by which they became law. Many policies now part of the fabric of American life drew their intellectual inspiration and political impetus from the leaders and members of that first GOP majority elected in 1994."

George W. Bush might not be president today if it were not for the 1994 Republican Revolution. Running against a popular incumbent for Governor of Texas, Bush faced an uphill climb. In some ways, Bush's victory in 1994 was part and parcel of the GOP's Congressional takeover. As Newt Gingrich was sworn in as the first Republican Speaker of the House in decades, George W. Bush was sworn in as only the second Republican Governor of Texas since the 1870s.

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Newt Gingrich, recent author of Winning The Future: A 21st Century Contract with America, remains an influential strategist. More importantly, many of the Republicans who won elections to the House of Representatives for the first time in 1994 are now in positions of seniority or have moved on to become governors or members of the Senate.

One item in particular from the GOP revolution that WILLisms.com would like to see revived is the line item veto. This measure would allow a president to effectively trim wasteful spending out of an otherwise acceptable piece of legislation. The Supreme Court, in 1998, declared the line item veto unconstitutional, but a line item veto structured in another way could still pass Constitutional muster. Additionally, ailing Chief Justice William Rehnquist was among those against the line item veto; replacing him with a Justice who favors the idea could lead to the line item veto being upheld by the court.

The 1994 election initiated a political realignment in America; the 2004 just may have sealed the deal. A successful second term for President Bush, and the realignment could last for a generation. The 1994 Republican Revolution endures.

Posted by Will Franklin · 3 February 2005 06:37 AM

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