DeMint: If GOP fails to live up to principles again, it will die

Ben Smith reports on remarks Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) made on CNN’s State of the Union yesterday on the issue of principles and the GOP:

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) says the Republican Party – even if it regains control only of the House – is “dead” unless it follows Americans’ demands to rein in government spending.

“I came into the Senate in the majority…55 senators, large majority in the House, Bush in the White House, and Republicans didn’t do what we said we were going to do,” DeMint said in an interview aired Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “We spent too much, we borrowed too much. And frankly, if we get the majority again, even if it’s just in the House, and we don’t do what we say, I think the Republican Party is dead.”

The Democratic Party, he said, was “left of Europe.”

“And the urgency for me here is the Democrat Party – and I know this sounds partisan but – are completely dysfunctional. They’re the left of Europe,” DeMint said.

“The Republicans are the only one who can carry the banner of what I think millions of Americans are saying – not just Republicans, independents and Democrats – stop the spending, stop the borrowing, stop the debt, stop the takeovers,” the senator said. “This is kind of uniting America.”

Here’s video of his remarks.

As usual, Senator DeMint gets to the heart of the matter. We all had high hopes that a Republican President and a Republican Congress would lead by example on the issue of fiscal discipline and smaller government, but we got just the opposite during the Bush years. It wasn’t exactly surprising, considering Bush called himself a “compassionate conservative” during his 2000 campaign. The words “compassionate conservative” are code words for “I can spend just like a Democrat to show that I ‘care’ for the people.” Bush also had a reputation for being able to work well with the Democrats in the Texas state legislature – another red flag. “Working well with Democrats” is also code-speak for “I can work with Democrats to spend money just to show that I ‘care’ for the people.” Not saying the 2000-2008 era of big government spending was entirely his fault – Congress shares the blame for that, too, but he had the power of the veto pen on numerous spending bills, budgets, etc but failed to exercise that power and as a result by the end of his term he had more or less governed like a pseudo-Democrat on the issue of fiscal responsibility and smaller government. Same same for many Republicans in the House and Senate, who – hopefully – have learned their lesson on those issues after the last 4 years of Democrat rule in the House and Senate.

I’m looking forward to the possibility of the GOP regaining control in either the House or Senate this fall (I think it’s more likely in the House, for what it’s worth); at the same time, I am cautiously optimistic on the issue of whether or not the past 4 years have taught them anything and have made them learn from the mistakes of the past. We’ll see.

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