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Joe Straus, Reestablishing Conservatism
The past week I have received a barrage of emails, phone calls and news updates indicating of a released letter by "conservatives" asking for more conservative leadership for our Speaker of the House position. Fair enough, we should always aim to push forward the conservative cause. I know what conservative means, but something in this letter has led to me to believe that our "conservative leaders" have again lost their way. In the letter, the most revealing sentence is the one that says "The victory of nearly two dozen new conservative Republican legislators reflects the mood of Texas voters on the state’s critical issues. It was a clarion call for conservative leadership in the Texas House – leadership that has been absent the past two years." Two years ago we had Speaker Craddick. Sorry, but that was not the conservatism that Americans overwhelmingly voted for this election cycle. Americans made it clear at the ballot box that we should be focused and united on the size of government, the deficit and spending. This is how Russ Feingold was overthrown by Ron Johnson, how Chris Christie beat Corzine, and how Republicans across the nation once again convinced fed up Americans to trust us one more time to lead. Straus has proven in leadership that we could go against the grain and actually cut our spending by $1.6 billion ending with a balanced budget. This being done for the very first time since World War II in Texas. This would include any previous "conservative" class of representatives in Texas who had every opportunity to lead and exemplify their definition of conservatism.
Am I saying that Speaker Straus should be given a pass, that we should never speak against the "Lord's anointed"? No. All of our leaders should be held accountable and measured, it is our duty to remain vigilant at all levels of representation. Still we have to also be careful when others attempt to define what conservatism is. Blue Dog Democrats, oh they are very "conservative", but look where that led us. Have you checked how many so called "conservative" Republicans have signed on to the federal "No earmark pledge"? It is sad to say this, but still not every GOP "conservative" representative has signed on. This is where it hurts the most and where one's bonafides is tested, it's in the arena of fiscal conservatism. Under Straus' leadership we were able to commit $9 billion dollars to a Rainy day Fund. Listening to Governor Rick Perry beat on Bill White about how Houston's budget is loaded with debt, but Texas itself having a Rainy day Fund was the perfect message for Texans this election.
To read across national publications, how the Texas economy is number one, while still being able to save 40,000 small businesses from paying the business margins tax is something to be very proud of. Just ask California who is burdened with $83.5 billion in long term debt if they wish they could be in our position. It took leadership to get to this point. Of course this was not all attributed to Joe Straus, but it was a serious team effort, and nothing says team more than Joe Straus, when he raised close to $1 million dollars for fellow conservative Republicans to be able to win their races. This historic takeover of our State House in part happened because we had the financial weaponry to promote fiscally conservative Republicans and challenge blue areas thought to be Democratic strongholds. This is the true definition of a team effort. To throw this all away, to discount these achievements with claims that we need someone "more conservative" is ridiculous. Nothing is more of a conservative victory than having the power in your hands to spend someone else's money but instead you are able to guide all 150 House members, Democrats included to vote for a spending decrease, and without raising taxes, giving your citizenry more of their own money to do as they please.
We must be aware that conservatism at this point in time, has the opportunity to take hold as a powerful and lasting American ideology all across our nation. It will be our collective fiscal behavior, however that our neighbors will be watching to see if we truly mean what we say. I don't think it is too much to ask of fellow Conservatives to finally listen to the voices of our neighbors.