Remember how, in 1994, a wave of conservative legislators were swept into office on the promise of the Contract With America? It’s hard to believe that was 16 years ago. That year coincided with my own spiritual and political awakening. As I came to recognize and embrace the truths of the Catholic faith, I also moved toward political principles that favored subsidiarity, family values, and economic opportunity. 1994 was an exciting year.
I cannot adequately describe the disappointment that I felt when, two years later, the Republicans nominated Bob Dole to be their presidential candidate. I was pleased with the platform written by the Republican delegates at their 1996 convention, but Dole distanced himself from the document, declining even to read it. I took it like a thumb in the eye, and decided that he wasn’t going to get my vote. I wasn’t about to punch the chad for Bill Clinton, so my protest vote that year went to Howard Phillips.
This year, 2010, looks like it will be as big a year for conservative Republicans as 1994 was, and we look forward to evicting President Obama from the White House in 2012. However, I worry that when it comes time to pick a candidate to run against the incumbent, the Republican Party, hot on the heels of a 1994 redux, will end up with a 1996 redux.