When Ken Mehlman, then chairman of the Republican National Committee, sent out a post-election memo about the RNC's intention to recruit new candidates and "continue to improve our party's operations," I had to respond to incoming RNC chairman Mel Martinez this way:
As a lifelong Republican, I am very disappointed because the institutional Republican Party has lost its way. Its candidates cowardly ran away from the president and ran away from Iraq (despite the fact that the Iraqi people themselves are begging us to "stay the course" and avoid a true bloodbath that would occur in the wake of the departure of U.S. troops in the near future).
GOP officeholders were deservedly spanked for their 12-year failure to uphold the party's historic principles of smaller government, balanced budgets, and honesty and integrity-the very principles that got many of them elected in 1994! The Republican majority in Congress (during most of the past 12 years) has done much damage by enacting the No Child Left Behind Act (further expanding the federal government's role in education, which is a local responsibility), the highway bill, and Medicare Part D.
Many Republican officeholders have abused their positions for personal or political gain. The RNC should make it clear to all candidates and officeholders that it will expect them to do better in the future, and that it will toss the wrongdoers to the sharks. Party leaders should emphasize responsible freedom, limited government, government at the most local level reasonable, a strong national and homeland defense, personal and official integrity, and compassionate assistance (for those who truly cannot support themselves) through individuals and local charities.
-Chip Watkins is an attorney living in Arlington, Va.