Washington Post - Republicans' Road Back
While Republicans are disappointed by Tuesday's results, we respect the American people's decision and pledge to work with President-elect Barack Obama when it is in the best interest of our nation. Some Democrats and pundits may want to read Tuesday's results as a repudiation of conservatism -- a sign that Republicans should give Democrats on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue a free ride. I don't see it that way, and neither should Republicans across the country.
The next four years are critical to the future of our families, our economy and our country, and we have a responsibility to rebuild our party by fighting for the principles of freedom, opportunity, security and individual liberty -- the principles upon which the GOP was founded. Recommitting ourselves to these principles means two things: vigorously fighting a far-left agenda that is out of step with the wishes of the vast majority of Americans and, more important, promoting superior Republican alternatives that prove that we offer a better vision for our country's future.
America is still a center-right country. This election was neither a referendum in favor of the left's approach to key issues nor a mandate for big government. Obama campaigned by masking liberal policies with moderate rhetoric to make his agenda more palatable to voters. Soon he will seek to advance these policies through a Congress that was purchased by liberal special interests such as unions, trial lawyers and radical environmentalists, and he'll have a fight on his hands when he does so.
In record numbers, Americans voted on Tuesday for a skillful presidential nominee promising change, but "change" should not be confused with a license to raise taxes, drive up wasteful government spending, weaken our security, or give more power to Washington, Big Labor bosses and the trial bar. Americans did not vote for higher taxes to fund a redistribution of wealth; drastic cuts in funding for our troops; the end of secret ballots for workers participating in union elections; more costly obstacles to American energy production; or the imposition of government-run health care on employers and working families.
Republicans have a responsibility to offer a better way. We must reaffirm Americans' faith in our party by reminding them why ours traditionally has been a party of reform rooted in freedom and security. This will not happen overnight. We must make the case one issue at a time, offering solutions to our country's biggest challenges to earn back the American people's trust and rebuild our majority.
Our most immediate challenge is creating new jobs and getting our economy moving in the right direction again. While Republicans have put forward a plan for economic growth and job creation, congressional Democrats are proposing hundreds of billions of dollars in new government spending masquerading as "economic stimulus." To rebuild 401(k) plans and keep jobs here at home, we'll offer tax relief for families and small businesses. And to lower fuel costs and create as many as a million new jobs, we'll offer a comprehensive plan for more American energy.
We'll also offer health-care reforms that empower patients and doctors, promote a strong military that keeps us on offense to protect the American people, and demand fiscal and ethical reforms to fix a broken Washington tarnished by scandals on both sides of the aisle. We have a responsibility to the American people to make sure our ideals are heard, and we expect these to be vigorous debates.
I wasn't born a Republican. I grew up outside Cincinnati as one of 12 children. Our dad ran a bar. I became a Republican because I believe that if you work hard and believe in yourself, there is nothing you can't achieve. That's the American dream. And I look forward to leading Republicans in fighting for it. If we return to our roots, to our belief in freedom, opportunity, security and individual liberty, our party will come back stronger than ever.
In Congress, Republicans will work across party lines to find solutions to the immense challenges that confront our nation. But we'll also stand firmly against policies that violate our principles -- the same principles held by the vast majority of American families. We Republicans must renew our nation's trust in us by offering better alternatives rooted in the reforms that define our party and by fighting for the American dream.
The writer, a congressman from Ohio's 8th District, is the House Republican leader.