This op-ed was written by Mike Pence (R-IN) on December 8, 2008. Pence was just elected chairman of the House Republican Conference.
On Election Day, only 22 percent of Americans described themselves as liberal, even while electing the most liberal, one-party government in American history. We remain essentially a center-right nation. So, what happened? I believe Republicans walked away from the principles that minted our governing majority in 1980 and 1994. There is a way out of the wilderness. But it will require humility, vision, positive alternatives and a willingness to fight for what makes America great.
First, Republicans must admit that we lost our way. After 1994, we were a majority committed to a balanced federal budget, entitlement reform and advancing the principles of a limited federal government. But recently Republicans voted to expand the federal government’s role in education, created the largest new entitlement in 40 years and pursued spending policies that created record deficits, national debt and the largest corporate bailout in American history. While Democrats continued and expanded these spending excesses over the past two years, voters were obviously not done punishing Republicans for our departure from principles over the past eight. Big-government Republicanism is a failed political experiment. When Republicans admit this, we will take an important first step toward renewing our credibility with our natural governing majority.