- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 18, 2009

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

For decades, political observers have watched with fascination the battle raging inside the Republican Party. Whether the contest has been between Sen. Robert Taft and Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, between Barry Goldwater and Nelson A. Rockefeller, or Ronald Reagan and Gerald R. Ford, the battle has always been viewed as a fight between “conservatives” and so-called “moderates.”

However, as recent events reveal, such a formulation misses the point. In fact, the real battle being waged is between Washington insiders - as represented by the congressional wing of the Republican Party - and grass-roots Americans from all walks of life throughout the country.

The actual events that prompted this observation were hardly anything of consequence. The gadfly, wannabe “cool” chairman of the Republican National Committee, Michael Steele, issued a policy statement titled a “Health Care Bill of Rights.” Within days, Senate Republicans led by Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander lashed out at Mr. Steele, intoning, “We are elected to set the policy.”

And that, in a nutshell, points up the real fight being waged in Washington today. The congressional wing has grown alienated from the very people who sent them to Washington.

You see expressions of this almost every day. Just last weekend, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham held a town-hall meeting where he ran headlong into opposition for his love of compromise. When pressed by the crowd, Mr. Graham had advice for the grass roots. He replied to a critic of his many liberal positions, “If you don’t like it, you can leave.” That may be exactly what is happening.

In a special election to fill a vacancy in New York’s 23rd Congressional District, insiders and lackeys of the congressional wing selected a liberal assemblywoman who supports President Obama more than the Democratic candidate, is radical on most social issues and is tied by marriage to the AFL-CIO.

Local activists refused to accept such a candidate, so the Conservative Party mounted a challenger. As of this writing, the Conservative candidate, Doug Hoffman, is rising rapidly in the polls as the Republican sinks toward single-digit support. The real Republican Party finally is rising up against the self-appointed mandarins of the congressional wing.

New York 23 is not an isolated case. In Virginia’s 5th Congressional District, a solid conservative, Bradley Rees, has publicly announced he will run as an Independent next year if the D.C. power brokers select a liberal challenger to freshman Democratic Rep. Tom Perriello. Again, grass-roots activists are rising up to tell the congressional wing to either get on board or get run over.

The response coming back from the congressional wing is invariably the same: They do what they want to do, not what the people who sent them to Washington want them to do. You and I are irrelevant.

Well, that is what has gotten us into this mess.

That attitude has allowed the culture of corruption to flourish regardless of which party is in power. It is this arrogant disrespect for citizens that has led us to the brink of financial ruin.

So, with all due respect to Mr. Alexander: Phooey! You and your cohorts were sent to Washington to represent the views of the people back home. You were given the task of implementing the ideas and policy positions embedded in the platform. And, you were sent to Congress to serve, not dictate.

The millions of Americans who have from time to time put their faith in one party or the other are starting to awaken. They will no longer sit by silently and take whatever scrap is thrown their way. They increasingly are taking Mr. Graham’s advice - they are leaving.

Bill Wilson is president of Americans for Limited Government.

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