The Risk of Post-Election Republican Betrayal

Several Tea Party-favored candidates have had surprising success this primary season. Most of them have a very good chance of winning, in many cases against savvy, experienced incumbents with ties to major funding and media they can rely on for support. Overall, Republicans are poised to become a majority in the House and possibly even the Senate this November.

There's been a sea change in the country, much quicker and more substantial than liberty lovers might have expected as recently as a year ago. Yet for some of us, it's hard to escape a nagging question.

What happens after January when the new congressional session begins?

That feeling can seem like foolish pessimism. Things could be worse -- left unreversed, current trends guarantee it. And the odds of our situation getting better next year are so good it seems ungrateful to indulge gloomy thoughts.

Still, for those who have been through this euphoria before -- after Nixon's resignation, after Reagan's election, and after the 1994 Contract with America -- the potential for disappointment does not seem small.

Even initially well-intentioned politicians make compromises, backslide, and ultimately neglect the American people.

Fortunately, that's not inevitable. In our political system, we do often get more or less the government we ask for, where "we" is everyone but those at the two ends of the bell curve. With the shift of the electorate towards the right on that curve, things look promising this year for getting semi-decent representation.

The trick is how to keep the momentum going after January, assuming victory in November. How can we ensure that candidates who promise less spending, adherence to Constitutional limits, and relief from the perpetual tightening of the federal noose live up to their commitments once in office?

There are several ways to encourage that result.

One is to keep the pressure on -- not just over the next two months, but through the next two years and indefinitely. Progressivism didn't come to dominate the state and federal governments overnight; it was a gradual process carried out over generations by patient, dedicated destroyers. Similarly, the pro-freedom movement is not going to succeed simply because of elections in 2010, 2012, or even a decade hence.

Our situation will not improve solely via electing "the right people."

There's enormous pressure on politicians with even the best character to dilute their good principles. The spoils system in place makes it far too easy for even mostly honorable politicians to sell out those who elected them. Anyone who's worked for a big company has seen that many times. Guys you've worked with for years who'd never think to lie, bootlick, or play politics get into management and quickly become corporate players. Men you would've once handed a blank check to pay for lunch soon become your biggest enemy under pressure from above.