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Two Contracts and a Commitment: A Republican Party that Keeps its Promises

Posted on Sunday, October 2, 2022
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by David P. Deavel
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AMAC Exclusive – By David P. Deavel

To the tune of Toby Keith’s song “Made in America,” Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy unveiled the House GOP’s Commitment to America on September 23 in blue-collar Washington, Pennsylvania. It’s a concise, one-page document, with good big-picture goals aimed at giving Americans “an economy that’s strong,” “a nation that’s safe,” “a future that’s built on freedom,” and “a government that’s accountable.”  

This big-picture stuff is surely right. Four good goals to pursue. House Republicans have repeated some of the themes of past Republican successes such as Newt Gingrich’s 1994 Contract with America or Donald Trump’s 2016 Contract with the American Voter. What I and, I believe, many Republican voters really liked about the earlier documents was their concreteness. We are happy with the scope of the commitment, but nothing compares to the terms of a contract.

There is no problem with big-picture promising. The Contract with America was certainly about slowing up and decreasing spending and in general stopping the growth of government. The Trump Contract with the American Voter addressed many of the same concerns. And so too does the Commitment to America. These are very big goals. Rome was not built in a day, and FDR’s Washington can’t be trimmed in a day either. With big goals, what makes it seem as though you are not just pontificating is progress on specific actions that serve as a bridge to the place you’ve painted in your big picture. That’s where the “contract” part is important.   

Contracts are promises to do specific actions in exchange for other actions. You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours. You vote us in, we’ll have an independent audit of the House finances, and if you vote me in, I’ll make sure that for every regulation passed, two costly regulations will be scrapped. Contracts also have a time frame and thus, an urgency. The Gingrich and Trump Contracts set forth an agenda for the first one hundred days in office.

What is great about a contract with a time frame is that you can go down the line and say, as with Donald Trump’s promises to pull America out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement or to renegotiate NAFTA, “Hey, he did that.” If some of the promises don’t work out fully because of Democratic obstruction, judicial interference, or other difficulties, voters will not be angry at them but at those who blocked them. If the promises aren’t kept because the pols simply didn’t try, the voters will be very angry and disillusioned. A big part of the reason the GOP has been in the wilderness for the last four years is that for all their talk about replacing Obamacare, when it came down to doing it with a Republican president—Donald Trump—willing to sign on, they couldn’t get the job done. 

Setting out actual policies with specifics is what made Newt Gingrich’s and Donald Trump’s contracts so powerful electorally and what made them capable of talking about the big issues with credibility. As political writer David Winston observed on the twentieth anniversary of the Contract with America: “1994 was all about issue content and political context for candidates and voters. It gave candidates the ability to talk in national terms about bigger picture issues and gave the party consistency across districts. It also helped the party develop the financial resources to win the kind of historic victory Republicans would need to take control of the House.”

The Commitment to America is not just big picture. It has some specifics. The most exciting one is that the House will start by ending the addition of 87,000 new IRS agents. The best one is, “End special treatment for Members of Congress by repealing proxy voting. . . .” After all, one of the most popular aspects of the Gingrich plan was that it began by trying to reform Congress and included ways to make its own members subject to legislation they passed. That this is still a live concern should be obvious after all the revelations of the last decade about how members of Congress and their staffs have had special cut-outs removing them from the effects of Obamacare and other pieces of legislation.

But in the Commitment, even that line about proxy voting drifts off into things that would be great without explanation of how they would go: “. . .and increase accountability in the election process through voter ID, accurate voter rolls, and observer access.” How do you propose to do these things when elections are largely controlled at state and local levels? Is this a counterproposal aimed at the Democrats’ attempt to nationalize elections?

The same goes for the other good parts. I’m fine with “Advancing the Parents’ Bill of Right,” but how exactly is Congress going to “recover lost learning from school closures” or “expand parental choice so more than a million more students can receive the education their parents know is best”? Parental choice is something Congress could feasibly do something about, though they don’t tell us how. And how will Republicans go about the effort to “recover lost learning”?  

The same goes even with some of the specific promises to do something which are not exactly inspiring. While it is no doubt important to do so, promises to hold House hearings even on topics such as the Afghanistan debacle or the origins of COVID doesn’t exactly make voters crawl over broken glass to go to the polls. Nor does the announcement of committees, even “Select Committees.”

Notwithstanding these quibbles, it’s a good thing that somebody finally convinced the House GOP to do something positive. Simply being silent while the Democrats show that they don’t have a clue or about how (or even a desire) to govern is not going to work. Nor is simply pointing that fact out. In real life you don’t get an A because somebody else has an F. That’s why I hope that the GOP will build on the solid foundation of the Commitments and in the next few weeks and months make even more specific the various legislative objectives they will pursue if they win the majority in November. 

 What Americans want is not only the assurance that the GOP House feels our pain about fentanyl, the border, or school choice. Nor do we simply want the announcement of hearings or committees, enforcement or fully funding, much as these might be good things. What we always want are specifics. What bills will the GOP pass? How will they hold “accountable” Soros-funded district attorneys? How will they ensure school choice? How will they secure the border?

Americans love commitment. We love big goals—safety, freedom, accountability! But the GOP will sell these goals a lot more easily by imitating Newt and the Donald, whose leadership helped define Republicans as a party that keeps its promises. History has shown that Republicans do well with a contract in whose details we can see that they are not just talking about following through, but that they really have figured out the steps by which to do so.

Hey, Leader McCarthy, how about you take a look at those old “Contracts” and then your own Commitment? There’s still time to describe four or five more specific bills that the GOP will pass. They don’t have to be huge ones. A solid, small bill with a few biting specifics would be good. GOP voters would love to see it. So, too, would Independents who may not vote for Democrats but are ready to be convinced that the GOP really means business.    

David P. Deavel is Associate Professor of Theology at the University of St. Thomas in Houston, Texas, and a Senior Contributor at The Imaginative Conservative.

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Juanita
Juanita
1 year ago

If Australians can vote the hell out the
Marxist , socialists, communist out why we are not doing the same?

Vote them out now
Because their purpose is destroy USA

New generación have to create and set their statues on the side of our older generación statues
Creat your own
We need we must teach our history along with latest discoveries

The people against the way as older people did , you do better
How can you know your doing better?
By remembering and and earned how this. Action was started and who started
How can you know if what your doing is better?
Or if you are in the path?

By our history
Dumb heads

You show you are dumb head
By your rebellious spirit against your elders
Respect your elders

PaulE
PaulE
1 year ago

Here’s the brutal reality of what McCarthy came forward with after nearly 7 months of waiting:

The so-called Commitment to America is what we in the business community would call a Mission Statement. That is what McCarthy finally agreed to sign onto, while McConnell refuses to do even that. Something most companies attach to monthly or annual financial reports like a 10Q or a 10K to describe what a company or organization stands for. A Mission Statement is essentially a formal summary of the aims and values of a company or organization in very broad and usually somewhat vague terms. A Mission Statement is much more aspirational in nature from a generic values perspective. That is it! It is far from being a set of specific deliverables to be achieved in a specific time frame, which is what was originally being suggested by New Gingrich for both McCarthy and McConnell to sign-up to along with ALL open Republican congressional candidates running in this election cycle back last winter. A Mission Statement is much more aspirational and non-specific in nature from a generic values perspective.

The last paragraph of this article by Mr. Deavel sums up the problem and deficiency with this so-called Commitment to America. GOP leadership setup the expectation for one thing and completely under-delivered on it months late. That’s usually NOT a recipe for success. Something the leadership of the congressional GOP has a lot of experience doing over and over again. As it stands now, it is far too late in the election cycle to try and redo this item to have any potential positive effect on the elections. Another opportunity squandered to provide a means to attract a few disaffected Democrat and Independent voters. So we can just chalk this up as yet another example of how NOT TO DO THINGS.

Randy
Randy
1 year ago

The Republicans will do what they always do if they win both houses or one of them–waste their opportunity so they can lose to the Democrats in the next election cycle.

Michael J
Michael J
1 year ago

Politicians and bureaucrats on both sides that receive lobby and special interest incentives are ripe for corruption. These token gestures of morality and integrity will not endure with our form of government that allows the buying of government at all levels.

Warren Goldmann
Warren Goldmann
1 year ago

We meed surrendered Christians living for Christ willing to do the right thing and suffer the consequences. The commitment we need as a nation is to God through Jesus Christ. That will fix all the important problems the rest will seem unimportant.

Bill K
Bill K
1 year ago

I really do see AMAC as a strong influencer for conservative principles. And I sincerely hope that House leaders heed your advice and take serious measures to actually act on measures that advance their general goals. Your piece was truly a pleasant sight for sore eyes! It is exactly the right approach for the midterms, and not too late to add some specifics people can be measured against.

Gregory
Gregory
1 year ago

Its not up to government. Its up to the people who run the government us. If those elected don’t do right recall them! Treason is death by hanging.

Daniel McGuire
Daniel McGuire
1 year ago

Don’t expect too much from these guys and gals; still a whole lot of swamp in the GOP

jocko
jocko
1 year ago

QUITE SURE THE REPUBS WILL SCREW THIS UP AND CAVE TO THE libs AS ALWAYS

William Hodge
William Hodge
1 year ago

Republicans can’t be trusted to do their job. They are uniquely talented at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Will they remove and replace their leadership? No. Will they kick out the RINO’s? No. So this is the same old Republican Party that does nothing even while controlling the majority. President Trump is the only person that can make the reforms necessary to make the people the controllers of the government as it should be.

Lois
Lois
1 year ago

My one hesitation, and it’s a big one, is the Republican determination to change Social Security in ways that hurt seniors. Ending the ceiling on income that goes into the program could keep the promises that may be broken to the current generation dependent on it.

edward
edward
1 year ago

“History has shown that Republicans do well with a contract in whose details we can see that they are not just talking about following through, but that they really have figured out the steps by which to do so.” We’ll see of the gop has REALLY FIGURED OUT HOW TO GET THE JOB DONE, WHICH MEANS THEY HAVE FINALLY GROWN A PAIR!!!!!
“A big part of the reason the GOP has been in the wilderness for the last four years is that for all their talk about replacing Obamacare, when it came down to doing it with a Republican president—Donald Trump—willing to sign on, they couldn’t get the job done.” As stated above!
I’ll believe it when I see it!

JayDee
JayDee
1 year ago

I’m still waiting for the GOP to finish what EVERYONE LOUDLY campaigned on back in 2016: Repealing 0Care and Building the Border Wall. That’s all we heard from every GOP candidate running, as well as those who supported their campaigns. Then once elected, THEY SAT ON THEIR HANDS for the first two full years under Trump when they controlled BOTH houses of congress.

Until they FULLY COMPLETE those two items, they are not trustworthy. Their words and “contract” should hold NO value and mean absolutely nothing to any rational voter. I am no longer paying any attention to what any chronically capitulating, GOP political-prostitute says. The only thing that matters is what they actually *DO* (if anything – I’m not holding my breath).

Hdrydr
Hdrydr
1 year ago

The congressional gop are a bunch of pantywaist “go along to get along” schmucks. It’s a bunch of horse crap that’s meant to look good. Same old crap from the kings of crap…the republican party.

Guillermo Guzman
Guillermo Guzman
1 year ago

If we want anything happening at all, in spite of how disappointing the RINOS, of the RNC and the GOP are, we need to vote Republican, until we can purge them all out for good.

Old Silk
Old Silk
1 year ago

Don’t forget to vote Republican for the Senate, regardless of how McConnell rejects and neglects the candidates because he wants his brand and is too lazy to make a case and give them the campaigns money. President Trump was elected with hardly anybody giving his campaign money too, so just vote a straight Republican ticket. Do it in this recession that is going into depression shortly.

mark
mark
1 year ago

Im seeing mostly negative comments on here which i cant sa that i disagree with most of them ,, but the main this is we have to remember to get out there and vote until we can get the place cleaned up ,, it only hurts us more when we sit at home thinking our vote dosent matter we are a strong Republic when united but it takes all of us not just a few ,,, PLEASE GO VOTE PEOPLE ASAP

Diana
Diana
1 year ago

I have so little faith. Did not 22 republicans sign on the the CR just last week, funding the Democrat agenda, including the 87,000 IRS agents? As a side note, that CR expires Dec 16, giving the lame duck Democrates a 2 week window to fund Biden’s out of control agenda thru next year. (and they will do it). Retaking control of the house becomes almost pointless. McCarthy’s words sound so hollow. It is an empty contract with no meat in it. It is safe to say the words, if you know you have an excuse to get out of implementing it.

Gary J Toth
Gary J Toth
1 year ago

Here’s the deal: They saw all this treason happening for decades… DECADES! Where was their contract and commitment? They took an OATH! That, in and of itself, SHOULD have been enough to get them rolling. For TWO YEARS the traitors have been systematically dismantling this country. The very people that took an OATH to protect it! Where was that contract and commitment? They are ALL complicit by their inaction! Just as those in the medical profession are complicit in the murder of untold numbers by “doing no harm”. This country is about to implode and I have as much faith in the politicians as I do in my doctors. They know full-well they can’t do a freakin’ thing to stop the juggernaut. This is “Well, at least we tried.” theatrics and nothing more. I’m glad I have a KING and don’t fear the implosion. My King has something WAAY better in mind and HE doesn’t lie or use trickery.

Deb Rockwell
Deb Rockwell
1 year ago

Oh really, they finally plan on getting their heads out of their sad little butts and giving up their corrupt ways that ensure their own personal enrichment??? Hahaha. The last laugh will be on them when we use Article V of the Constitution to permanently limit their power. Get lost, GOP and libtard morons.

LauraC
LauraC
1 year ago

Hey, Kevin, how about doing something besides run your mouth and having dinner dates with the other do nothing Republicans like Graham and McConnell who worked assiduously against the only person, Donald J Trump, who tried to get anything done in Washington? These “elite” politicians aggravate me so much because they do NOTHING (yeah, Lindsey, I’m talking about you) unless they’re up for re-election when they beg and plead for another chance and, when we stupidly do give them another chance, they shaft us yet again. When will WE learn. Trust Kevin? Not on your life. Let’s get a real person of and for the people in there—Jim Jordan is up for the job as well as a few other stalwarts.

Stephen Russell
Stephen Russell
1 year ago

Seen NO motivation in the ranks aside Jordan, Cruz, Hawley etc A-Z

Adonis
Adonis
1 year ago

And where is corrupt worthless RINO turtle McConnell? Busy helping Democrats.

Dave Campbell
Dave Campbell
1 year ago

If Republicans actually followed trough on election year promises of conservative law making and governance, they would stay in power for 50 years. Democrats are competative primarily because Republicans rarely do follow through on their promises.

Randall L. Beatty
Randall L. Beatty
1 year ago

One can only hope that Republicans will do something to help this nation get off there backsides and really do something to take this country back get us on the right track again. We will see what happens in November if they win. Tired of promises from both sides then do nothing.

Cliff
Cliff
1 year ago

I personally would like to hear details on HOW the GOP will undo so much of the mess that the Biden Administration has fostered and created. Restoring our energy independence, restoring and strengthening our borders, reigning in government spending, helping to shore up the economy. The hearings and investigations into the political hacks can come after we solidify our country’s position.

Brian Carrozza
Brian Carrozza
1 year ago

I’ll believe Republican “promises” and “commitments” when 0bamacare is repealed (a promise) and Hillary is prosecuted for her numerous Felonies (a commitment). Until then, I won’t believe a single word out of any Republican politician’s mouth.

johnh
johnh
1 year ago

Republicans need to stop the War on Fossil fuels, before it is too late. News today predicts some homes in Europe will pay 15x energy bills this winter, and due to dependence on oil/gas from Russia and stopping coal/nuclear energy plants in these countries. USA needs to note this & come up with a plan even if it takes 100-years to turn to green energy. The current 13-year plan by Biden WH cannot be done in this short a time frame & if we continue on this path , USA will suffer big time. And now the states of California & Oregon plan to adopt EV cars by 2035 & dismantle energy plants.

Mary
Mary
1 year ago

They all want our vote, yet they double cross us each time they get a chance. They violate our trust again and again. There are over 100 members of congress with self interest who got rich with inside trading. How can we believe anything they say or do?

tika
tika
1 year ago

McCarthy always looks past the obvious short answer. all he had to do was hold up two documents. DoI and CotUS

John Bredfeldt
John Bredfeldt
1 year ago

The document is a good summary of what ails America and Americans. However, in each of the four areas two things must be overcome: The corruption of the Biden Administration, his advisors, and the vast majority of the senior civilian and military leadership (not just the political appointees, but career general officers and SES civilians), and a deeply almost evenly divided country in culture and goals. I suggest the approach Ronald Reagan used before and during his presidency. Spend the few days left before this year’s election to ensure that every republican running for a seat in the U. S. House and Senate, beat the drums in every advertisement, every speech, and every debate with these four issues and the major proposals of each. Ignore the noise the democrats are making and focus on these issues and these issues only. If the republicans win either or both houses, pound the administration daily through committee inquiry and legislation passed to meet these commitments one way or the other on a daily basis for the entire next two years. Put the president and his entire administrative staff from those hidden in the White House (and never seen) to those lower staff usually forgotten on the hot seat daily and never let up. Once the facts become uncovered, ensure that the American public knows through frequent briefings that virtually everyone in the U. S. understand is truth and fact. Finally, force the democrats in Congress and Administration to specify their sources of data AND bring those sources forth in front of the Congressional committees to be interrogated. Use the committee process to either validate or invalidate the democrat policies and positions as well as the republicans who support the republican positions. The democrats never won a debate or mere counter statement against President Reagan because he always stated facts and told the truth. Never did he let the noise about him or his policies take him off message. So must the republicans be if they take the U. S. House and/or Senate.

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