Just after November’s election, Republican senators huddled in a closed-door meeting to consider a package of rules that would have tossed Ted Stevens out of their conference, imposed term limits on party leaders and otherwise changed the way the Senate Republican Conference does business.
South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint, who proposed the rules, saw quickly that they weren’t going to be popular with his colleagues. So one of his staffers urged him to withdraw the proposal setting term limits on the GOP leader, and DeMint hoped the others would remain packaged together so they could be considered in a single vote.
But Conference Chairman Lamar Alexander of Tennessee took issue with the staffer and quickly called a vote on the term-limit proposal before DeMint decided to withdraw it. Then party leaders proceeded to call up each of DeMint’s other proposals separately, creating a long series of votes that DeMint lost badly.
“No doubt,” DeMint said, Republican leaders were “trying to humiliate” him.
Let's look at what the old system has got us. The Senate revived the bailout. Ted Stevens invented the bridge to nowhere. The senate spends more than the house and voted for that bridge 80-20 or something like that. The same people who screw up get promoted and are part of the club. DeMint, who is a relative newcomer to the senate. McConnell has been there for years. Alexander is new, but was a Tennessee governor and has been a politican insider for ever.
As Republicans seek a way forward after two disastrous elections, social and fiscal conservative activists off Capitol Hill are rallying behind DeMint because of his unrelenting style to force his party to return to its small-government, free market roots. DeMint, 57, said in an interview that he’s not dwelling on his previous battles with the GOP leadership and sees areas where his party’s leaders and the Obama administration can work together to solve the country’s problems.
But DeMint is less willing to compromise with Democrats than many in his party, and some Senate Republicans doubt his fiery tactics can lead their party out of the political wilderness when the public is seeking an end to legislative gridlock.
DeMint’s critics, including senior Republican senators and top aides in the Senate, say his refusal to work within the norms of the body — by showing deference to party leaders and chairmen and building support behind closed doors without airing concerns first to the news media — undermines his ability to draw support for his cause.
The problem right now is that there is too much deference to "leaders" and not enough leadership that deserves deference. Right now the GOP needs to do two things more than anything else.
1. Formulate a clear plan of opposition plan to Obama's big spending. Noticed I said "plan." That doesn't mean simply saying that Obama's plan sucks (which it does). It means coming out with a good alternative to Obama's plan and communicate it to them.
2. Clean up the corruption. Don't tolerate the Ted Stevens types anymore.