Politics & Policy

Crumblin’ Down

A fresh start.

“It’s what you do and not what you say, If you’re not part of the future then get out of the way.”–John Mellencamp, Peaceful World

As the mayor of Cranston, Rhode Island, I don’t typically pay much attention to the inner workings of congressional leadership races. However, the current race for House majority leader presents a question that is different from the norm, as it is of great interest to those of us outside the Beltway.

Since I was first elected Mayor of Cranston in 2002, Republican-party registration is up by approximately 50 percent in our city. We still trail the Democrats by about 2 to 1, but we are gaining everyday. The reason the Republican brand name is succeeding in Cranston is that we have shown the citizens that we will stand up for the taxpayers and fight the powerful special interests.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for our Republican (and Democratic) friends in Washington, whose pockets are lined with special-interest funds. That is why I want to voice my support for Congressman John Shadegg (Ariz.) in his bid for House majority leader. I have never met or spoken with Mr. Shadegg or his challengers, Mr. Blunt and Mr. Boehner. I have no reason to prefer one over the other, except for the fact that the Republican party is in desperate need of a leader willing to stand up to the special interests and fight for fiscal discipline, and John Shadegg appears to be that man.

All three contestants have issued numerous promises to fight the special interests, but promises are not enough. John Shadegg has the clearest record of standing up to the corrupt practices and the outrageous pork spending that has become so prevalent in recent years. For example, Representative Shadegg cosponsored a bill to reform the earmark process last spring, long before it became the “in” thing to do, and he was one of only eight Representatives to vote against the pork-heavy Transportation bill.

John Shadegg and I have something in common: We are both appalled by the spending gluttony in Washington, and we have dedicated our careers to saving taxpayers’ money. That is why I am running for the United States Senate in Rhode Island. The incumbent Republican senator, Lincoln Chafee, has not demonstrated the desire or the ability to stand up to the Washington political bosses and fight for the Republican values of fiscal responsibility and restraint. His career has been marked by timidity and an affinity for the status quo, and that is not good enough.

On my website www.electlaffey.com, I have pointed out numerous examples of government recklessness, including a taxpayer rip-off of the week that highlights some of the more outrageous pork-barrel earmarks. You can also read about my plan for returning this country to fiscal sanity and my record of standing up to the special interests, including the various public-sector unions, in my hometown of Cranston, R.I.

It is no secret that Washington is crippled by inertia. There is a tendency on the part of incumbents to resist change and to horde power for themselves. But the old politicos have had their chance to prove themselves, and they have failed. What we are seeing in this majority-leader race, as well as in my race in Rhode Island and in races across the country, is a rallying cry for change in Washington and a return to the principles of moderation and discretion that ushered in the Republican majority in 1994. People are sick and tired of the same old backroom deals and cover-ups; they are fed up with the culture of extravagance that has Washington looking pinker than Porky the Pig himself.

This November, it will come down to a question of the old versus the new, the reckless versus the responsible, and big government versus small government. The choices are very clear, and I have no doubt which side will triumph. I have no doubt that, come November, we will be saying goodbye to the K Street pawns who now occupy the seats of power and saying hello to those who are willing to fight for the average taxpayer.

I grew up, the son of a toolmaker, believing that hard work, integrity, and accountability were the cornerstones of this great nation, transforming America into what Ronald Reagan called a “shining city on a hill.” I still believe that. I call this the Laffey philosophy–the idea that an individual can make something of himself through his own efforts and go on to make the world a better place. This optimistic philosophy is predicated on a firm belief in the American dream, and even now, when Washington seems to have hit its low point, I continue to believe that change is on the way.

Steve Laffey is the mayor of Cranston, R.I., and a Republican candidate for the United States Senate.

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