Monday, July 24, 2006

Op-Ed: Voters Strike Back

It looks as though voters are having the last laugh this year. If recent election results and poll numbers are any indication, the Republicans who are involved in the culture of corruption are going down, quickly.

The following op-ed hits on that notion very well:

The victims of Jack Abramoff's lobbying shenanigans continue to mount. This past week, longtime Abramoff associate and former Christian Coalition chief Ralph Reed lost a primary bid to become lieutenant governor of Georgia.

The 45-year-old Reed had ambitions for national office, and his dramatic successes as a political consultant in the 1990s suggested that he could build winning coalitions. In 2002, as chairman of the Georgia Republican Party, Reed engineered the election of Georgia's first GOP governor since Reconstruction.

But Reed's affiliation with Abramoff and his hubris led to his downfall. While Reed cashed $4 million in consulting checks from gambling tribes, he was simultaneously urging Christian voters to reject casino expansion.

Once the news got out that Reed was little more than a lobbyist who hoped to protect his clients from competition, the race was done.

He lost 56-44 to a little-known state senator.

Quite a fall. Reed was, after all, one of the architects of the Republican takeover of Congress in 1994, serving as liaison between then-Reps. Newt Gingrich and Dick Armey and the grass-roots network of religious conservatives who got their members to the polls. They in turn helped give Republicans their first House majority in four decades.

He made the cover of Time magazine in 1995 and (before the emergence of Karl Rove) was viewed as the nation's most effective political strategist - in large part because he could persuade religious and economic conservatives to join forces and work to limit government. He was hired by a half-dozen presidential candidates, including George W. Bush.

Left-wing Web sites and blogs are gleeful with Reed's downfall. Some claim that the defeat should serve as a warning to any candidate who has accepted large donations from lobbyists and wealthy contributors.

We see a different, more encouraging lesson here. Ethics and blatant hypocrisy still matter. Voters have little patience for politicians who so clearly elevate personal gain above public service.

That's something candidates of all parties and political philosophies can bet on.

Do you hear that John Boehner? It is the voice of dissent from voters all over the nation. They are telling you and your do nothing fellow Republicans that they are fed up with the status quo and want change.

Call it childish if you want. But it is what the voters want. And I must say, the voters usually get what they want.

Clean up Washington now!