March 7, 2007
I recently contacted soon-to-be vacating House Majority Leader Wayne Smith with some questions from various members of the DCBA.
The questions were as follows:
1. Why, Wayne, why?
2. With your resignation, we’ve lost a strong voice for conservative values in the General Assembly? Who can Delaware conservatives look to to fill your shoes?
3. What should the Republican party do to rebuild in an increasingly blue state?
4. What legislative priorities should the GOP focus on in the coming years?
5. Have you made a choice in the 2008 Presidential Primary?
6. Are there any seats in Delaware that look ripe for a Republican pickup?
7. Do you think the Republican Party (DE and RNC) is headed in the right direction?
8. What say you to those who believe you bolted now because of John Kowalko’s “grace period” bill?
9. In conjunction with question #8, when were you offered your new position (job)?
Wayne responded in paragraph form:
One of my favorite quotes is from President Teddy Roosevelt, who intoned that, “far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.” Well, elective service is work worth doing and so is working on health care issues, which is arguably the most significant domestic issue this state and nation will be debating in the years to come. I’ve loved my period of elective service, but like many things in life, sometimes it is time to move on. My new job affords me a wonderful opportunity to continue to work with significant public policy issues in a critical sector of our economy. My hours should be somewhat more regular and predictable as well, which suits this homebody (where home encompasses a wonderful wife and four really neat children) very well.
Conservatism ebbs and flows. Right now, after the success of Ronald Reagan and the GOP Congress in the mid and late 1990’s (before it wrecked itself on out of control spending), we’re in a trough. Much of this is driven by concern and frustration over the War in Iraq. These things do change. One can bank on liberal excesses encroaching upon individual freedoms and producing an expanding government. This will start the type of reaction that will play to conservatism’s strengths. In Delaware, there is no doubt that the center of what we’ve understood the Republican Party to be since President Reagan’s presidency has moved south. Conservative plays as well in Kent and Sussex counties as liberalism plays in New Castle. Therefore, conservative leaders are more likely to be successfully launched from these friendly territories. They will have more freedom to be all-around conservatives because their constituencies are very supportive of that world view. We will have our issues. Certainly low taxation and spending play to our strengths and are supported by more than just conservatives. We need to go after some of what Pete DuPont called “damned right” issues. I’ve always believed instituting a state flat tax could be one of these. There are many others out there; what the party and elected leaders need to do is to be bold enough to take on some of the “you’ll never get that done” issues. For example, when I first ran for office at age 27, I said I was going to try to end forced busing. Many people patted me on the head and said in effect, “nice little candidate.” Well, about five years later, we had dissolved court ordered busing which allowed innovations like public school choice and charter schools to be used in northern New Castle County. Not to mention all of those children spending a lot less time on busses and the reappearance of community schools. Some of these “damned right” issues are tough and hard to crack. But the public has lots of grievances with the way things are – mining those and being willing to tilt at windmills (some of them do get knocked down) is one of the key to success.
As far as the presidency in 2008, I’m a national security guy. I believe the War on Terror is real, critical and woefully underestimated as a threat by the vast majority of Americans. I’m looking for a candidate who wants to take out the bad guys who want to kill us and our families – not try to understand his historical grievances or his pining for a new Caliphate. Maybe it’s Giuliani, maybe its McCain. But I do know that in a country that has seen its elementary schools ban dodgeball as too competitive and mean, a hard war is a long way from gaining popular support. President Bush, to his credit, I believe understands what is at stake and the lengthy commitment it will take to defeat this new enemy.
As for my job, it is a great opportunity that fits in well with my life right now. These types of jobs take months to develop and involve formal search procedures and lengthy interviews. These last years, I’ve kept an open mind to new opportunities (I’m 44 and have been a legislator for over 16 years). None that I’d discussed, sought out, or been approached on seemed like the right fit for various reasons. Sometimes it was the difficulty of wrapping it around part-time legislative duty. Sometimes it just didn’t interest me. I can say that the chance to still work on public policy problems was a very attractive facet of the job offer I accepted.
I’ve really appreciated my time on the public stage and am grateful to everyone who supported my efforts.
I want to thank Wayne Smith for taking the time to answer our questions. We thank him for his service to Delaware and wish him all the best in his new position.
December 26, 2006
I came across these two quotes this weekend and thought they provided a good summary of conservatism, first in theory and then in practice.
Theory: “The essence of this body of ideas is the protection of the social order—family, neighborhood, local community, and region foremost—from the ravishments of the centralized political state.” – Robert Nisbet
Action: “Never go out to meet trouble. If you will just sit still, nine cases out of ten someone will intercept it before it reaches you.” – Calvin Coolidge
Crossposted at Gazizza