Let me start by laying the foundation. I am an anti-establishment Republican. I do not believe in “go along to get along.” I tend to support the anti-establishment candidates. Which is why I’m for Rick Santorum.
Rick looked sheepish when Ron Paul attacked him at the debate last night for his defense of voting for “No child left behind.” He said, in his defense, “Politics is a team sport,” upon which Ron Paul jumped on him. Team players, Ron Paul said, are the problem in Washington.
Yes, we need to fight the establishment, so to an extent, his statement resonates with me. But if you are totally combative, you get nothing done. I wish that Santorum had thought of this counter-attack at the time. It would have been beautiful. Ron Paul, as we know, doesn’t go along with anything. I’m sorry, to me that isn’t a virtue. To be effective in Congress, you need to be more than just a gadfly.
Do a Google search on Ron Paul’s legislative achievements. You will discover that in 23 years in Congress, he has sponsored 620 pieces of legislation, and only one of those was enacted into law. And that one law was the sale of the old U.S. customs house to the Galveston Historical Foundation. Whoop-de-doo.
Now Google Rick Santorum’s legislative achievements. You’ll find that when he began his service in the House of Representatives, he joined with Jim Nussle and John Boehner as one of the famous “Gang of Seven” that exposed the Congressional Banking and Congressional Post Office scandals. He was an author and floor manager of the landmark Welfare Reform Act of 1996. He wrote the legislation that outlawed partial birth abortion. And we could go on.
No, it’s easy to sit on the sidelines and carp. But there’s an art to knowing how to get things done, and sometimes, to do that, you do have to play with the team. There’s a balance you have to strike there. You can’t condone “business as usual” when it is corrupt or it undermines conservative principles. In retrospect, it is clear that Santorum thinks he should have done differently in the case of George Bush’s education agenda. But I remember those days, and there was a strong feeling that Republicans needed to support their president, who was under withering attack from the Left from the day he was elected. I don’t fault Santorum for that. I looked up the roll call vote on that legislation, and there were three Republican nay votes – Voinovich (OH), Hagel (NE), and Bennett (UT) – all solid moderates. The most conservative Republicans, including Phil Gramm, Jeff Sessions, Rick Santorum, and Strom Thurmond, all supported the president.
Ronald Reagan made similar mistakes. But that will happen when you’re a person of real accomplishment rather than just a gadfly.
And if you are finally elected President, you want to be able to effectively call on legislators to be a team player for you. If you’ve been trouble and an annoyance all along to all your fellow legislators, you won’t be very effective in asking for others’ cooperation.
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