Have you noticed that every candidate in the GOP primary is a “conservative” now?
Clearly, they know what to say. They might even know what to do. But getting them to actually do what’s needed most – take the initiative to rein in federal spending – means voters will have to wise up.
Ohio’s Congressional District 2 is represented by Jean Schmidt, who calls herself a conservative and boasts of big-name endorsements and high scores from conservative watchdog groups.
But how many actual conservatives got elected to Congress the first time around with the benefit of $37,000 in Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee money? (Source: 1 2 3 contributions)
What is conservative about earmarking $14.6 million, the most of any Greater Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky member of the House, in 2007’s congressional spending bills? (Source: Cincinnati Enquirer, Oct. 7, 2007)
How can one claim to be a fiscal conservative while supporting $25 million in federal spending on a local park? (Source: Cincinnati Enquirer, May 1, 2007) Note that this occurred when the federal debt was approaching $9 trillion.
In 2009, Rep. Schmidt requested more than $10 million in District 2 spending as part of a pork-laden bill, prompting nearby District 8’s Rep. John Boehner – who has publicly sworn off earmarking – to urge President Obama to veto the entire bill. (Source: Cincinnati Enquirer, Mar. 6, 2009)
Interestingly, in 2010 Rep. Schmidt cited Congressional overspending as her reason for voting against extending the Bush tax cuts. (Source: Cincinnati Enquirer, Dec. 18, 2010) The problem for her, it seems, was that everybody except Rep. Schmidt was spending too much money.
Yet, as Rep. Boehner’s record illustrates, a Congressman does not have to treat the U.S. Treasury as a personal printing press in order to get re-elected.
In fact, as the video Alo kindly linked below explains, 85 percent of Congress consists of “safe seats,” solid-red and solid-blue districts where the winner of the right primary is virtually certain to win in November.
Add that only 1 in 10 registered voters participate in the primaries, and it’s clear that only 5 percent of the electorate (or, a majority of primary voters) actually chooses most of Congress.
So, all a GOP incumbent has to do in most districts is convincingly don the “conservative” mantle through the primary, then go back to politics as usual. Congress is full of such representatives. They get high scores from ACU and other organizations, but they don’t actually take initiative to get Washington under control. Why bother, if the primary voters aren’t paying attention? It’s hard work, turning a ship that big around.
But that’s what will have to happen. Voters will have to realize they’ve been sending the same go-alongs and earmarkers to Congress every two years, expecting a different result.
Some incumbents, such as Rep. Schmidt, actually have credible primary challengers this time around. Many incumbents do not. Hence, the attention this particular contest has drawn from people concerned about the impending fiscal disaster that few in Congress seem ready to head off.
Are you a primary voter? Are you ready to change the course of Washington? Your chance occurs on March 6.
Campaign for Primary Accountability
2:15 PM Update (Alo Konsen): Hello, Representative Schmidt. Nice to see you.