From conservatives, a bounty of political manifestos
Everybody from tea partiers to Republican lawmakers to GOP chief Michael Steele is listing their political priorities and goals. Republicans are hoping to repeat Newt Gingrich's 1994 success in taking over the House with his 'Contract With America.'
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“Republicans see themselves as reliving 1993-‘94,” says Cal Jillson, a political scientist at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. “They’re the out-party, [with] big Democratic majorities that have taken the country in a policy direction that makes people nervous. They feel they’re about to mount a huge comeback.”Skip to next paragraph
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In fact, the 1994 Contract With America was released just six weeks before the midterm elections, and most voters had never heard of it.
“But in Republican lore, it bulks very large,” says Mr. Jillson. “It probably did define and hold together the Republican minority as it launched into that campaign, and they felt empowered by it, even though the voters were going about their lives and never even noticed.”
Tea partiers like the cacophony of voices
In today’s cacophony of conservative and Republican activism, it may be difficult to settle on one common blueprint to present to the public. But for tea partiers, who relish the lack of central authority over their movement, that’s exactly how it should be.
On Tuesday, some 50 tea party leaders from around the country met with Chairman Steele in Washington to discuss how party and conservative grass-roots activists, many of them vociferously not Republicans, can find common cause in the fall elections. They agreed to meet again.
On Capitol Hill, Republican Study Committee chairman Tom Price (R) of Georgia applauded the Mount Vernon Statement, saying it “reminds us that the change we really need is a renewed empowerment of self-governance and a turn away from unbridled government expansion.”
The liberal People for the American Way put out its own reaction, calling the Mount Vernon Statement “the same old talking points.
“Anyone who was expecting a new direction for the conservative movement will be disappointed,” said Michael Keegan, president of People For the American Way. “The Mount Vernon Statement appears to be yet another recitation of the same tired dogma we’ve seen for decades.”
The Mount Vernon Statement is named for George Washington’s home in Virginia. The drafters gathered nearby on Wednesday for the signing. It is meant to be an updated version of the 1960 Sharon Statement, a manifesto by the group Young Americans for Freedom, which held its inaugural meeting at conservative godfather William F. Buckley Jr.’s estate in Sharon, Conn.
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