In the wake of the disaster for conservatives that the fiscal cliff deal brought us, perhaps we need to avert our eyes from Washington D.C. and look at the states to see conservative progress. Such is the advice give by Newt Gingrich in his latest Human Events column:
Washington is likely to remain a painful spectacle for the near future. President Obama and the elite media will create anti-conservative and increasingly liberal policy directions. If the last seven weeks are any indication, Washington Republicans will range from inarticulate to deeply split. House Republicans have the Constitutional tools to take on Obamaism, but as long as the leadership refuses to operate strategically, those tools will be largely unused, with [Oversight Committee] Chairman Darrell Issa’s investigations as a striking exception and model for the others.
The good news is that conservatism is on the march outside Washington. (And outside Sacramento, Springfield, and Albany, which will be the new case studies in destructive tax and regulatory policies and the disastrous economic consequences of job-killing and taxpayer flight to other states. All three states will become poorer as long as they are dominated by liberalism.)
Michigan just adopted a right to work law in a stunning victory for workers rights and personal freedom and a deep blow to the power of union leaders to focus resources politically. Governor Rick Snyder has provided real leadership in moving Michigan back toward job creation.
Gov. Scott Walker became a national figure through his campaign to bring basic changes to government employee unions in Wisconsin. His reforms have already begun making life easier for local governments and local school board. The lessons about common sense work rules replacing overly strict and expensive union work rules in Wisconsin will spread across the country.
Texas has adopted common sense prison reforms which are saving taxpayers money while improving the lives of young Americans with minor offenses.
Texas also has an experiment underway to provide four-year college education for $10,000 a year or less. Gov. Rick Perry has taken the lead in helping young people get an education without massive debt.
Departing Gov. Mitch Daniels took a different step toward affordable college when the Daniels Scholarships provided that any Indiana student graduating early would receive the cost to the state of his or her senior year in high school as an automatic scholarship.
Daniels privatized a great deal of infrastructure development and the Indiana model of providing better infrastructure through private investment will be studied by other states and ought to provide a model for Washington as national infrastructure issues are developed.
In Washington, national policy debate seems mired down between a party of big government and redistribution and a party of pain and cuts.
In the 24 states with Republican governors and Republican legislatures there is an emerging party of the future.
Conservatives in general and Republicans in particular ought to spend more time focusing on the states.
Here in Vermont we need to focus on derailing what some on the left are touting as a model of progressive government. Once that is done, perhaps we can change direction and propose some real reform.