The last time a Republican Party majority in Washington referred to itself as "radical," let alone "revolutionary," as the congressional Republicans elected in 1994 are wont to do, was in the Civil War and Reconstruction period. Charles Sumner, one of the party's ideological leaders in the causes of antislavery and civil rights in that critical era of the nation's history, declared triumphantly in 1862: "'This is a moment for changes. Our whole system is like molten wax, ready to receive an impression.'" With the Contract with America firmly in hand before the television cameras, those who have sought to craft today's Republican-led "revolution" in government and public policy seem at times to believe that a similar receptivity to "an impression" prevails in the country. It is in the context of such insistent and sometimes ebullient faith that the country is ready to endorse a great transformation-what the Republican Governors Conference in 1994 termed "a historic moment of opportunity-an occasion when the political climate makes possible fundamental change in the federal-state relationship" -that the broad range of proposals for devolution of power to the states in so many vital areas of policy has been debated since 1994.
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