Alexander's Column

On the Right Track — The Conservative Mandate

Mark Alexander · Dec. 3, 2004

(This is the first in a series of essays on vital national policy issues, which must be addressed by the Bush administration and Congress).

“We will continue our economic progress. We’ll reform our outdated tax code. We’ll strengthen the Social Security for the next generation. We’ll make public schools all they can be. And we will uphold our deepest values of family and faith.” –President George W. Bush

In the wake of President George W. Bush’s re-election and nationwide victories for down-ballot conservatives, this column, for the record, reaffirms the principles upon which they were elected: constitutionally limited government, a strong national defense, the prospect of restoring fiscal discipline to government, and an unwavering commitment to the traditional moral stakes of our Republic.

President Bush’s brief post-election comments have been unifying, especially in contrast to the largely divisive words of his vanquished opponents. The President outlined an agenda supported by the vast majority of Americans: reforming our outdated tax code, strengthening Social Security, improving public schools, upholding our deepest values of family and faith, and holding the front lines with Jihadistan – not only by taking the fight directly to the terrorists, but also by establishing democracies in Middle East countries.

Despite insistence from the Left that President Bush must “govern from the center,” it’s clear that the President’s first-term efforts to mollify the Left produced only vitriol and knee-jerk obstructionism. Consequently, such efforts shouldn’t be a strategic centerpiece of the President’s second term. Clearly, John Kerry’s rhetoric during the past year – and that of his many surrogates, from Al Gore to Al Sharpton to Al Franken – has sharply divided the nation. Thus, in order for President Bush to make good use of his conservative mandate, he’ll have to take his case over the heads of the Leftelite on Capitol Hill and directly to the American people – just as Ronald Reagan did back in 1981.

In recent weeks, as anticipated, President Bush has begun to restructure his cabinet. Such a restructuring is common at the onset of a second term, and we expect these appointments will largely reflect the administration’s commitment to the comprehensive conservative (federalist) policies outlined below.

National Security and Homeland Defense:

First and foremost, continue to allocate all resources necessary to advance the campaign against Jihadi terrorists. It cannot be said too often: We choose to fight the war abroad so we don’t have to fight it here at home.

Continue reorganizing the Department of Defense into a leaner, more agile and lethal military machine, maximally capable of addressing the asymmetric threats of the post-Cold War world.

Continue to develop and strengthen alliances to fight the war on terrorism and address other issues vital to our national security: Nuclear proliferation, stability in the Middle East, and viable solutions to illegal immigration and border control, particularly in the Southwestern U.S.

On the subject of immigration, we believe the Bush administration’s chief shortcoming has been its failure to enforce existing immigration law. The administration’s immigration-reform plan, shelved since the events of September 11, 2001, does not represent an “amnesty” plan for illegal immigrants, as many have suggested, but attempts to deal with border control by addressing economic issues first. However, in the context of our war against Jihadistan (Islamic terrorists), we contend that border control must come first; only then can economic and labor concerns be responsibly addressed.

Promote greater internal political stability (democracy) and economic integration throughout Eastern Europe and Asia.

Continue the development and deployment of strategic missile-defense. Here, the initial deployment of Aegis-class destroyers off the coast of North Korea is an encouraging first step.

More aggressively pursue a greater degree of national energy independence. This should include responsibly drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, increasing our oil-refining capacity to better absorb instability in the international market, and – perhaps most important – encouraging the forces of the free market to develop alternative energy sources.

Legislative Agenda:

Reform the national tax system by eliminating the current U.S. tax code and replacing it with a flat tax (as proposed by Dick Armey and Dennis Hastert) or a national sales tax. The first priority must be to dispose of a tax system that has stifled competitiveness and growth since its advent, and commence earnest debate of the alternatives.

Reform Social Security, Medicare and other entitlement programs; more than all discretionary spending combined, these programs contribute to the national deficit, place a drag on economic growth, and loom as potential fiscal crises over our nation’s economy.

Reverse the exponential growth of the federal bureaucracy and return government to the role envisioned by our nation’s federalist Founders.

Secure a line-item veto for budgetary legislation, thereby allowing the President to combat Congress’s irrepressible urge to waste your hard-earned tax dollars on its pork-barrel pet projects.

Institute far-reaching tort reform, thereby reducing the frivolous lawsuits that stymie business growth and competitiveness and make medical insurance unaffordable.

Aggressively defend the traditional values of our Republic: Reaffirming the right to life and fostering a reverence for it in every area of our society; and reaffirming the institution of marriage, while supporting the traditional family as the fundamental unit of American life.

Judges, Judges, Judges:

RINO (Republican in Name Only) Senator Arlen Specter is poised to assume the chairmanship of the Senate Judiciary Committee. This means that this powerful seat will not be in the hands of a constitutional constructionist who will aggressively advance the President’s judicial nominees. Yet Specter is well aware that he owes his political life to this President, who came to Pennsylvania earlier this year to rescue him from a down-to-the-wire primary challenge by conservative Congressman Pat Toomey.

Given this and the enormous grassroots pressure put to bear on Specter since his ill-advised post-election comments about pro-life judicial nominees, we believe he’ll fall in line. And he’d better. Specter has a 42-percent lifetime rating from the American Conservative Union – exactly HALF the average for Republican senators. Specter’s specific transgressions include “borking” Ronald Reagan’s Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork in 1987; helping kill Reagan’s judicial nomination of now-Alabama Senator and Judiciary Committee colleague Jeff Sessions; voting for the largest tax increase in history under Bill Clinton; and sponsoring the “Freedom of Choice Act,” which would have forced religious hospitals to perform abortions. Needless to say, our patience with Senator Specter is wearing thin.

Regardless, the President and Senate Republicans should press with all possible force for up-or-down floor votes on all his judicial nominees, and the President should relentlessly continue nominating conservative constructionists for the now back-logged federal courts.

In the regretful event of ailing Chief Justice William Rehnquist’s departure from the Supreme Court, we urge the President to nominate one of that court’s two most reliably constructionist members, Justice Antonin Scalia or Justice Clarence Thomas, as its new Chief.

Conclusion:

Granted, while President Bush enjoys strong support in the House, his 55-45 Senate majority includes a few RINOs who are likely to continue obstructing the constitutional constructionist (read: conservative) agenda. To be sure, there are a few DINOs on the other side of the aisle. And the Patriot Southeast, once dominated by Democrats, now counts just four Demos among its 24 senators. These four, as well as every red-state Demo senator (especially those up for re-election in 2006), are sure to feel pressure to work with President Bush – or, at the very least, not to categorically obstruct him. Likewise, Sen. Harry Reid, who is most likely to succeed deposed Demo leader Tom Daschle, is from Nevada, which, as you may recall, is also a red state.

We encourage you to register your support by signing “Keep America on the Right Track: The Conservative Mandate.”