ERICKSON: Changes and challenges

January 24, 2014 

If you want to change Washington, you must first change the Republican Party. This is a fact. When the Republicans last controlled Washington, D.C., they raised the national debt on domestic policy initiatives, but pretended they were raising the national debt for war spending. They passed No Child Left Behind. They passed Medicare Part D. They tried to pass amnesty. They collaborated with the Democrats to pass TARP and the General Motors bailout.

These were Republican ideas. They were not the Democrats’ ideas. They are ideas that have driven up the size and scope of the federal government. Republicans have behaved as if the problem is not government, but Democrats in charge of government. Republicans talk about smaller government, but in practice, they truly believe they alone can control the leviathan without putting it on a diet.

If the Republicans take back the Senate in 2014, they will do so with the same figures and faces that have long profited from the status quo in Washington. Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican leader who has been there since 1985, will still be in charge. Thad Cochran of Mississippi is running again. He has been in the United States Senate since I was 3 years old.

In Kentucky, McConnell is facing a primary challenge. McConnell has statewide job approval right now of 30 percent, but he is clinging on, refusing to retire. Were it another Republican in the same situation, McConnell would be forcing that person to resign. But this has become a matter of pride for Mitch McConnell.

If you want to change Washington, you must change the Republican Party, and to change it dramatically, you must change its leadership. It is time to retire McConnell, whether he likes it or not. It is time to replace him with Matt Bevin -- a conservative businessman and family man. No Republican leader has ever been removed by Republican voters in a primary.

Doing so now would send shockwaves through the GOP and be the biggest signal yet that the party must change. Here in Middle Georgia one might be tempted to wonder how supporting some guy in Kentucky can really do anything. But we are a nation where a politician from California or Kentucky can affect our lives here in Georgia. Our lives have been affected and will keep being impacted by votes in Washington by anonymous politicians who live in other states. We cannot afford to just focus on politicians in Georgia.

To be sure, there are races here in Georgia to focus on. There are battles along the coast and in the Atlanta area to replace congressmen now running for the Senate. Steve Simpson from here in Middle Georgia is running to replace Rep. Paul Broun. My friend Barry Loudermilk, who I have endorsed, is running to replace Rep. Phil Gingrey. Broun, Gingrey, Rep. Jack Kingston, former Secretary of State Karen Handel, David Perdue, and a host of others are all running for the United States Senate.

There will be gubernatorial primaries galore, too. With local elections in Macon, including for the water authority, we will all be exhausted come December. We just got through an extended municipal election cycle. But vote we must. And it is no longer a matter of voting just for party for many of us. The right person needs our vote.

There are intra-Republican primaries for the United States Senate in a number of states we should pay attention to. But the biggest impact we could all have in changing Washington is by supporting Matt Bevin in Kentucky.

Erick Erickson is a Fox News contributor and radio talk show host in Atlanta.

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