Last month I wrote a column for this newspaper that was my version of the State of the State. The headline read, “The State of the State 2006: A Republican offers his own text to Arnold”. After that I received many calls from old political friends who said, “Hey, I thought you were a Democrat.”
My answer was, yes, I was a Democrat. But like Ronald Reagan and others before me, my political journey has led me to the Republican Party. This is my story of that journey.
From 1987 until 1997, I worked on political campaigns for many Democrats including Al Gore and Bill Clinton. My politics were geared to the Democratic Leadership Council of which they were both members. This was the moderate wing of the Democratic Party that was formed after the 1984 Reagan landslide to try to move the party to the center away from the “San Francisco Democrats”- a phrase coined by another former Democrat, Jeane Kirkpatrick.
In 1991, after having worked on Al Gore’s presidential campaign of 1988, I was approached by some friends from that effort to join the fledgling campaign of Bill Clinton for President. He had been Chairman of the DLC and at the time I felt that he fit where I was politically, with his views on welfare reform, increasing global trade, and putting more cops on the beat. After the election I moved to Washington and I was appointed by the President to senior positions at the General Services Administration, NASA and the Department of Energy.
But almost from the start, it was not what I had signed up for. Restoring America’s economy was what Clinton campaigned on but once in office that quickly changed to gays in the military, and Hillary’s government run health care plan. The DLC agenda was no where to be found. But I had taken an oath to serve and to this day I am very proud of my service to the country.
What I observed in Washington was a Congressional Democratic Party that had ossified into an oligarchy of powerful committee chairmen who, after 40 years in power, ran the Congress as their own private domain. They had no new ideas and their only driving ambition was to cling to power. There was no dissent and Republicans were relegated to the back benches and relative obscurity.
Then in 1994, Newt Gingrich and the House Republicans produced the “Contract with America.” The Congressional Republicans were offering a specific plan to move the country forward on issues that mattered to real Americans- cutting taxes to stimulate growth, tort reform to curb the excesses of the trial lawyers, and rebuilding our military. I found myself agreeing with the ideas and the direction of the Republican Party. I was beginning to question whether I was in the right party.
Then the tawdry Monica Lewinsky episode exploded on the scene. I was not na