Newt Gingrich talks with Sean Hannity about a new grassroots initiative called the Contract from America, a collection of policy proposals developed and chosen by the American people.
AMERICAN SOLUTIONS: Contract from America and What it Means for 2010
At CPAC, American Solutions took part in the formal launch of a new grassroots initiative called the Contract from America. We believe that it has the potential to define the 2010 elections.
Spearheaded by Ryan Hecker of the Tea Party Patriots and the Houston Tea Party Society, this is an effort – after demanding that Washington listen to us – to tell Washington exactly what we want them to do.
Currently a collection of 22 policy proposals developed and chosen by the American people, voting is now open to you and every other American, so that you can decide upon a final 10-point Contract to be unveiled on April 15, 2010 – the next round of nationwide Tea Parties.
The Contract from America provides a vehicle for every American that believes in free markets, limited government, and individual liberty, and here are 5 reasons why:
1. A focus on America, not President Obama.
President Obama deserves a lot of blame for what’s happening in America right now, particularly the unprecedented intervention of the federal government in the economy and the tripling of the national debt. But Washington’s failures have been bipartisan, and our current challenges are much bigger than President Obama.
By providing a blueprint for building a better future, rather than a recipe for how to beat President Obama, every American concerned about the direction of Washington can be assured that the Contract’s purpose is not partisan success, but American success.
2. Moderate Democrats vs. the Secular-Socialist Left.
Red America vs. Blue America is a myth. As the Tea Party movement and the victories of Scott Brown, Bob McDonnell and Chris Christie are proving, there is huge (70 percent plus) tri-partisan majority of Americans who believe in lower taxes, limited government and individual liberty – and they’ll vote for it when given a real choice.
The secular-socialist Left, represented by President Obama and Speaker Pelosi in Washington, represents a small percentage of Americans, which is proven every day that they try to run over the moderate Blue Dog-wing of their party, and more and more Americans reject their policies.
There are plenty of items in the Contract that moderate Democrats can be for, and the Contract provides them an opportunity to stand up to the Left, which is driving them off an electoral cliff.
3. The Contract is not a platform – it is a contract.
Campaigning is much easier than governing; just ask the current Democratic majority. It’s one thing to gain power, it’s quite another to hold together a coalition, fix real problems, and give voters a reason to keep you around.
With the Contract from America, candidates are not just signing a platform from which they will campaign; they are signing a contract with voters that they will actually do these things.
4. An alternative vs. opposition.
When the President and Congress try to take over, for example, both the healthcare (public option) and energy sectors (cap and trade), it’s not only good, but essential to say no and do everything in our power to stop them. However, we must do more than that. We must alter the terms of the debate, on our grounds. America is rejecting the Left’s policies, but they won’t embrace ours until we define, explain and communicate what they are, clearly and simply. The Contract can be our vehicle.
5. Honesty and Transparency over Ideology.
Ideology is important, and conservatism is on display throughout the Contract from America. However, a good bit of it (like the original 1994 Contract with America) focuses on honesty and transparency, such as the required posting of bills online and more choice for parents in education.
Most Americans are not ideological. They just want government to work, to be responsible, and to know that the people, not politicians, are the ones calling the shots at the end of the day. Just think about the healthcare debate – every American may not know exactly what the public option is or what cap and trade means (most of the politicians don’t either), but they do know that they don’t like their supposed representatives shoving it down their throat.
Something is wrong when our representatives are crafting deals behind closed doors, when they won’t hold townhalls in front of their constituents, and when outright bribes are explained away as just “the way things work in Washington.”
For many Americans, the focus on honesty and transparency will be a breath of fresh air.
And with that, go ahead and pick your Top 10.
L.A. TIMES: Conservatives Draw up a New ‘Contract’
A series of manifestoes, from Republicans and ‘tea party’ activists, harks back to the GOP’s victorious 1994 ‘Contract with America’ campaign.
By Kathleen Hennessey
Although “tea party” activists and other conservatives claim kinship with the founding fathers and the Spirit of ’76, their emerging strategy for the November elections has more in common with the Spirit of ’94 — the year Republicans ended 40 years of Democratic dominance on Capitol Hill.
Conservative strategists centered the 1994 Republican campaign on a “Contract with America.” This year, GOP leaders in the House have pledged to issue their own, updated version of that agenda, which is widely credited with having helped Republicans focus their message and win a historic victory.
But this time, the declaration of principles that House Minority Leader John A. Boehner of Ohio has promised will have to play in a crowded field.
A version of the tea party-backed “Contract From America” was unveiled last week at the Conservative Political Action Conference, the annual showcase of leaders and activists on the right. The unveiling came a day after another group — including many of the elders of conservatism — announced their own manifesto, dubbed the Mount Vernon statement after its signing at a library near George Washington’s estate.
Newt Gingrich, chief architect of the 1994 Contract with America, also has weighed in, publishing his version of a new contract in this month’s Newsmax magazine.
The plethora of manifestoes reflects a heightened energy among Republicans, and also shows the work the GOP has to do in uniting the party.
Reflecting that lack of unity, former Republican House leader Dick Armey, now a leading voice of the limited-government, anti-tax tea party movement, said the tea party contract wouldn’t be necessary “if Republicans had the credibility to do it themselves. They don’t.”
Armey’s Washington-based advocacy group, FreedomWorks, has endorsed the “Contract From America,” which bills itself as culled from the collective wisdom of Internet activists. Its organizer, Houston attorney Ryan Hecker, has been soliciting policy ideas through a website for months and has selected 22 that will be narrowed to 10 through an online vote.
Many of the original suggestions on Hecker’s site, contractfromamerica.com, might be difficult for mainstream Republicans and moderate voters to swallow: abolishing the Department of Education, dismantling the IRS and establishing an official U.S. language.
NEWSMAX: Contract From America Rose from Obscurity
By Ronald Kessler
Ryan Hecker got the idea while he was shaving: Why not hold politicians accountable to conservative principles with a “Contract from America”?
Bookish and intense, Hecker, 29, is hardly the sort of person you would expect to galvanize a political movement. But as a Harvard Law School graduate and a lawyer with Vinson and Elkins in Houston, Hecker has impressive credentials.
He has another thing going for him: Outrage.
Outrage was what he was feeling about the Bush administration’s plan to bail out banks when he thought up the Contract from America in December 2008. In contrast to Newt Gingrich’s Contract with America, the new contract would bubble up from the grass roots, setting forth principles that politicians would be asked to embrace.
Now, tens of thousands of activists have voted on what they consider the top 10 principles.
At a press conference at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) last week, Hecker and other Tea Party Patriots, FreedomWorks Chairman Dick Armey, Sen. Jim DeMint, Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform, the National Taxpayers Union, Liberty Central, and Regular Folks United announced plans to unveil the final document on April 15.
Despite the growing power of his concept, until now, no one in the media has interviewed Hecker about his background and how he arrived at the idea for the contract.
Hecker tells Newsmax he grew up in a liberal family in Manalapan, N.J. His father taught math at a middle school and at the College of Staten Island, where his mother also taught math. Hecker’s uncle, Democrat Marty Markowitz, is Brooklyn’s borough president.
When Hecker was 16, Hecker’s congressman, Republican Michael J. Pappas, got him a page job, which exposed him to the arguments of Republicans on the Hill.
“A lot of the pages were running around delivering packages all day, but my job was to sit in the cloakroom and wait for phone calls and go on the floor,” Hecker says. “So I witnessed a lot of debates.”
While attending New York University, Hecker joined a debate team and was impressed by the arguments of conservatives who leaned toward being libertarian.
“The strongest arguments, especially on economic and individual rights issues, were for me always the conservative position,” Hecker recalls.
Hecker was not shy about letting his parents know that he had become a Republican.
“My mom still thinks like, Oh, you’re doing what you’re doing, and it’s not what I agree with, but I’m proud of you,” Hecker says.
Hecker had no problem breaking the news to his future wife, Niru. Born in the U.S. of parents from India, she is a conservative who met Hecker when she was attending Bryn Mawr and debated him.
In 2005, Hecker graduated cum laude from Harvard and was hired by Sullivan and Cromwell in New York. After two years, he left the law firm to join the presidential campaign of Rudy Giuliani as an opposition researcher.
When the campaign was over, Hecker joined the law firm of Vinson and Elkins in Houston, where his wife had begun a residency in neurosurgery.
Last Feb. 27, Hecker was on his way to lunch and ran into a rally of conservatives. He joined them and helped organize a rally on April 15 by the Houston Tea Party Society, where he became an executive board member. Hecker later became a board member of the Tea Party Patriots, one of the leading tea party groups in the country.
In September 2009, Hecker launched the ContractfromAmerica.com Web site. The idea is to enlist candidates from both parties to subscribe to such goals as “Stop the Tax Hikes,” “Stop the Pork,” and “End Runaway Government Spending.”
“The Contract from America is based on the principles of individual liberty, free markets, and constitutionally limited government,” Hecker says. “The goal is to really create a grass-roots feeling that we can make a difference, that individuals can make a difference, and that it’s time for the Republicans and the Democrats and politicians in general to listen to the people.
WEEKLY STANDARD: Grand Old Tea Party – The insurgents meet the insiders.
Grand Old Tea Party – The insurgents meet the insiders.
By Mary Katharine Ham
It was a good week for proclamations, with Washington conservative leaders, tea party activists, and the GOP all touting statements of principle as thousands of conservatives came to town for the annual CPAC conference. The GOP’s statement has yet to be released, but each group’s intentions have nonetheless been scrutinized and parsed by the media in what feels like a political version of the eHarmony compatibility test.
Will the tea partiers drag the GOP toward the unelectable fringe? Will the conservative movement tap into the antiestablishment energy of the tea partiers? Will the Republican party adopt the ideas of either? Can they all come together without sullying the grassroots authenticity of the tea party movement? Will they or won’t they form a third party? Is this the beginning of a beautiful relationship, or is someone going to get used?
Sixteen miles from the Capitol, at the Mount Vernon home of President George Washington, a group of conservatism’s gray eminences gathered to sign the Mount Vernon Statement—a noncontroversial (to conservatives) manifesto to unite and recommit their movement to the “ideas of the American Founding” in the “critical political and policy battles ahead.”
As a George Washington impersonator presided over the signing of the oversized Declaration-style document, a couple of newcomers mingled with such Beltway fixtures as former attorney general Ed Meese and the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins. Jenny Beth Martin and Mark Meckler of tea party Patriots, a loosely organized national umbrella group, had come to town for the unveilings of both this document and a tea party document.
It wasn’t the only odd juxtaposition of outsiders with insiders this week. A handful of tea party leaders had an hours-long meeting with RNC chair Michael Steele at the Capitol Hill Club—a locale the media gleefully chortled was too elitist for the group. “The club is a place for Oysters Rockefeller and pictures of Eisenhower, not tricorn hats and Don’t-Tread-on-Me flags,” Dana Milbank wrote in the Washington Post (proving either he had never set foot in the decidedly non-swank building or assumed his readers wouldn’t know better).
But what the press often portrays as a prickly fight over the soul of the Republican party looked more like a first date, with both sides attempting to make a good impression. The tea partiers wanted to introduce themselves, and Republicans and conservative leaders were happy to meet them in light of their new electoral credibility after Scott Brown’s win in Massachusetts.
“The atmosphere was very positive,” said RNC communications director Doug Heye of the meeting, which he said was initiated by tea party activists and ran more than an hour beyond its hour-long slot on Steele’s schedule. Steele “made it very clear that he was going to answer every question. I think that really created a lot of good will with the people who were there in the room.”
When tea party activists held an unveiling for their own document— the Contract From America—at CPAC on Thursday, heavy hitters like former House majority leader Dick Armey and Senator Jim DeMint were there, but noticeably took a back seat to tea party activists, who referred to themselves as “leaderless” no fewer than five times.
Ryan Hecker, a Houston lawyer who devised the plan to create a tea party platform using thousands of ideas and online votes from activists, exemplified the unpolished, grassroots nature of the press conference when he fumbled the microphone while stalling for DeMint’s arrival. As the mike’s crash quieted, he smiled and said, “As you can tell I’m kind of a newbie at this stuff.”
Like Hecker, many of the tea party activists at CPAC for the first time this year acknowledged they are new at the game, but are also confident that’s their strength. Polling suggests they are right, with voters sour on Washington and both parties. As for the politicians, they made sure to show proper respect to the new activists. Every major speaker gave kudos to the tea party movement from the CPAC dais on Thursday.
House minority leader John Boehner was no exception. “The Republican party should not attempt to co-opt the tea parties,” he said. “I think that’s the dumbest thing in the world. What we will do as long as I’m the leader is respect them, listen to them, and walk amongst them. The other party will never, ever do that.”
Continue reading Mary Katharine Ham’s article at the Weekly Standard…
ABC NEWS: Tea Party Activists Craft ‘Contract from America’
By Teddy Davis
Republicans on Capitol Hill are developing an election-year alternative to the Obama administration’s agenda. But a Tea Party activist in Texas says the politicians in Washington – including the out-of-power Republicans – don’t have the “credibility” to offer a contract.
The first Tea Party convention kicks off with a tone of anger and confrontation.
His solution? Use the Internet, develop a “Contract from America,” and make the politicians come to him.
“You are going to be held accountable by us,” said conservative activist Ryan Hecker, offering a preview of what Tea Party activists are going to tell congressional candidates later this year. “We have a plan – a proactive reform plan – for you to follow and not the other way around.”
Technically, Hecker doesn’t have a reform plan yet. He does, however, have one in the works.
He says he came up with the contract idea shortly after Barack Obama was elected president in November 2008. Hecker, a 29-year old lawyer from Houston, spent the 2008 GOP primaries working as an opposition researcher for former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s presidential campaign.
To get his idea off the ground, he launched a website, “ContractFromAmerica.com,” which encourages activists to offer possible planks for the contract.
From the original 1,000 ideas which were submitted, Hecker whittled it down to about 50 based on popularity. He is currently in the process of narrowing it to 20 ideas. He is being aided in this process by former House Republican Leader Dick Armey, whose conservative group, FreedomWorks, has established close ties with many Tea Party activists around the country.
When the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), convenes later this month in Washington, DC, Hecker says he will launch an on-line voting phase which will take his document from 20 ideas to the final 10 to 12 most popular.
The completed “Contract from America” will then be presented to the public on Tax Day, April 15, 2010.
Hecker wants to give all congressional candidates – Republicans, Democrats, and Independents – an opportunity to sign onto his “contract.”
Continue reading this article at ABC NEWS…