With the 2010 election, the game has changed. Republicans in congress are no longer powerless to do anything, but cast mostly symbolic votes against another piece of the radical Obama agenda. There will be pressure on the Republican congress to engage in bipartisan compromises and blame for inaction if they don't. The grass roots needs to keep the pressure on Republicans, while maintaining their opposition to the Obama agenda, and preparing for 2012. With that in mind, here are ten commandments to keep in mind for the next two years.
2. Repeal Positively - It's great that Boehner is talking about repealing ObamaCare, but while it's important to do that, and jettison as much of Obama's agenda as possible-- but it is also vital not to be defined by it. For the first two years being the Party of No was a successful strategy, but a sizable amount of voters expect more than just vetoes or repeals. Being the Party of No while in the opposition was important, but being the Party of No while dominating the House is poor strategy. During the next election, it will be important for Republicans to remind the public, not just that they repealed what Obama did in his first two years, but how followed a roadmap for restoring America.
3. Cut the Waste - Take a lesson from the UK, where Cameron has gone on an aggressive spending slashing spree. Some of his cuts have been unpopular, but the popular targets are useless overpadded bureaucratic organizations. There are plenty of choice targets operating out of Washington D.C. too. Targets that will outrage liberal elitists, but are likely to be quite popular with the general public. The Juan Williams affair focused the lens on public broadcasting, but why stop there. Dick Armey has already focused in on the National Endowment for the Arts, always a juicy ripe plum. But that's just the beginning. There are a lot of soft targets to hit, and they should be hit early and often. Make Democrats defend their wasteful spending, and they'll look elitist and out of touch.
4 Avoid Arrogance - The last thing the Republican Congress needs to do is act like Obama. A certain amount of triumph was okay, but gloating and arrogance should be avoided. Because the public is watching. The Obama Administration will act childishly, but reciprocating in kind, particularly around crucial budget negotiations would be disastrous. A clash of personalities at this juncture will not favor the Republicans. Any petty behavior on the Republican side, will allow the media to paint them as spiteful and arrogant. That worked for Clinton last time around. And they'll be sure to try it again. If the public gets the sense that the Republican cuts are not motivated by budgetary sensibilities, but by power and privilege, then Obama will have the 2012 election locked up tight.
6. Learn from Obama - Barry Hussein thought his victory meant an unlimited mandate to do anything he wanted. The public wanted him to focus on the economy and job creation. He focused on bailouts and phony job creation plans, that had nothing to do with job creation. He assumed the public was stupid. They weren't. Let's not make the same mistake. That means having and holding on to the right focus from the start. It also means looking like public servants, not like a party machine. So keep the pork off the table and bring home the beef.
7. Careful What You Cut - On the other hand cuts that will allow the media to "Gingrich" the Republican congress are much more dangerous. The media would love to paint Boehner as another Dickensian villain who wants to shove kids into orphanages and throw the poor out into the street. And they're only a misstep and a poorly chosen quote away from it. Case in point, a sizable portion of the country only remembers Newt Gingrich, as the man who wanted to put children in orphanages.
It's a dangerous tightrope to walk, because real spending cuts are going to cause pain. That means they have to be balanced out by hitting soft targets, emphasizing that there is an economic crisis that will impact our grandchildren, and aggressively looking to open opportunities for business. Starting with softer targets will build support for the harder targets to come. Particularly if Obama is foolish enough to pick a fight over an unpopular target.
Meanwhile Rand Paul is predictably following his father's agenda, by calling for aggressive defense cuts. Ron Paul had already allied with Barney Frank to dismantle the US military under the aegis of some of George Soros' "defense experts". That plan didn't go anywhere, but now that the election is over, Paul jr's mask is coming off. This shouldn't have been a surprise from Rand Paul, who compared the US Army to Nazi Germany and called for a left-right coalition to fight "American Imperialism". But the United States must retain its military capabilities, or risk a repetition of the Clinton Administration's disastrous cuts, which left the military in a state of unreadiness. Barack Hussein Obama has already been hitting the defense budget. There's no need to help him out. Particularly when the consequences of those cuts will be blamed on Republicans, not on him.
9. Be Our Own Watchdogs - Corruption or the perception of corruption, helped bring down the Republican congress in 2006. And it will be all too easy to repeat that same mistake. Power breeds corruption. It's easy to talk about reform, until you actually get the power. And then reform doesn't seem all that appealing anymore. It will be up to the grass roots, to keep an eye on spending and on corruption, and to shout them out first, before the media can build a narrative around it. We have to be our own watchdogs, if we're going to create a new model of government, instead of recreating the same old tawdry one.
10. Keep Your Eye on the Ball - 2010 was important, but 2012 will be much more important. 2010 is a chance to checkmate Obama's agenda and prepare the ground for the real war. That means the context for everything we do has to be on how to win the next election. Winning 2010, while losing 2012, won't look like much of a victory. And if you don't think it can happen now, look back at the nineties. It can happen. And unless we work hard, it will.