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A time for choosing

Jonathan Klinger | Tuesday, November 7, 2006

In 1964, when conservative Republicanism was at its nadir, Ronald Reagan gave a speech in support of Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater entitled, “A Time for Choosing.” In that speech, Reagan said, “This is the issue of this election: Whether we believe in our capacity for self-government or whether we abandon the American revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far-distant capitol can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves.” Those words sparked Ronald Reagan’s political career and a revived conservative movement which helped him win the White House.

Today the people of Indiana’s Second District face that same issue in this election. At the time this column was written, recent polls placed Democrat Joe Donnelly and Republican Chris Chocola in a statistical dead heat, and today voters must decide whether the candidate they elect will create a government which works for the intellectual elite or the people of Indiana.

Throughout his campaign, Donnelly has asserted that he is a pro-life moderate who would be an independent voice for Indiana. In fact, on his campaign website’s section on life issues, Donnelly claims, “In keeping with my personal faith and family values, I have consistently opposed abortion and will continue to do so in Congress … I will always vote according to my faith and my conscience on life issues.” I would like to think that Joe Donnelly is an honorable and honest man, so I will take him at his word.

Unfortunately, this forces Donnelly to choose between his conscience and his party. Nancy Pelosi, the current Democratic House Minority Leader, would likely be the Speaker of the House in the event of a Democratic takeover. Nancy Pelosi’s voting record, like those of most of the House Democratic leadership, has awarded her with a perfect 100 score from NARAL Pro-Choice America, and a stark zero from National Right to Life. In order for Joe Donnelly to “always vote according to [his] faith and [his] conscience on life issues,” he would have to vote against his party for Speaker, which is so serious that it is akin to changing from one party to another.

If elected, Joe Donnelly would be forced to vote against his most cherished beliefs to install Democratic leaders in the House of Representatives who don’t trust Hoosier values, but pursue the agenda of that small intellectual elite identified by Ronald Reagan. Joe Donnelly’s Democratic House leadership would appoint Rep. Dennis Kucinich as chairman of the House Government Reform Committee’s Subcommittee on National Security. If you haven’t heard, Dennis Kucinich once said that “we cannot justify giving the Attorney General the ability to designate domestic terror groups,” and argued that the removal of the terrorist regime in Afghanistan was unjustified.

The Democratic House leadership Joe Donnelly would put in power would place John Dingell in the chairman’s seat of the House Energy Committee. Rep. Dingell voted four times to raise the tax on gasoline. Gas taxes are arguably regressive, but the wallets of lower-income Americans are apparently unimportant compared to the theories of a small, intellectual elite. On key issues as energy, abortion, national security and others Joe Donnelly’s Democratic leadership just doesn’t trust the American people to govern themselves.

I have never met Joe Donnelly, and as such I give him the benefit of the doubt that he is an honest man with good intentions. Unfortunately, the fact of the matter is that Joe Donnelly would vote for Democratic House leaders who care more for the machinations of a small intellectual elite than the needs of everyday workers.

As Ronald Reagan so eloquently said, this is a time for choosing. Fortunately we do have a choice who would continue Reagan’s legacy and trust the people to govern themselves. Chris Chocola has a track record of independence, unblemished ethics and leadership (particularly in the area of spending discipline) in the House of Representatives which is consistent with the Indiana values he holds so dearly.

In contrast to Chris’ Democratic predecessor Tim Roemer, who lived in Washington and rarely returned home, Representative Chocola returns here every weekend on the red-eye flight and spends his time helping seniors sign up for Medicare prescription drug benefits, building support for job development and listening to the concerns of the people he serves. The difference is clear.

Regardless of the outcome, today will be a historic day in American politics. If we choose Joe Donnelly, our country will lose one of its brightest and most committed leaders, and our Congress will likely serve the interests of a small, intellectual elite. If we choose Chris Chocola, we can keep Reagan’s legacy alive through at least one seat in Congress and build a renewed majority which believes in our capacity for self-government. It’s your choice.

Jonathan Klinger is a senior management consulting major and the President of the Notre Dame College Republicans. He currently resides in Keenan Hall and enjoys Tolstoy and Matlock. He can be contacted via e-mail at jklinge@nd.edu

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.