The Corner

‘The Dean Martin of Congressional Politics’ Demonstrates Old-Fashioned Virtues

The new majority’s strategic priority should be to heed the proverb “He who hesitates is lost.” The Republicans have at most 11 months to enact their agenda before the substance of congressional business becomes a sideshow to the symbolic politics of a presidential election year. The nation’s economic and strategic health necessitates that the GOP hits the ground running. Conveniently for the Republicans, their electoral health requires the same fast, tangible start.

The Republicans’ policy focus should be on treating Americans as adults capable of making their own decisions about how their incomes are spent. Restoring fiscal sanity to the federal budget is the obvious place to start. But rolling back onerous regulation is also necessary, if Americans are to be treated as adults in their non-economic lives too. They should put an end to the nonsensical nudging and nannying about what, where, and how we eat, drink, gamble, smoke — and seek our health care.

The new Speaker, John Boehner, looked every inch the Dean Martin of congressional politics as he strode, deeply tanned and nattily attired, through the U.S. Capitol. After accepting the Speaker’s gavel, the substance and tone of his words were straightforward, collegial, and modest. Such old-school qualities suggest an adult may be in charge on Capitol Hill. That alone constitutes a good start.

Patrick Basham directs the Democracy Institute and is a Cato Institute adjunct scholar.