"You can't beat something with nothing" goes the old adage.

With 99 days to go until the November congressional election (and state elections that will determine who gets to draw new congressional districts based on this year's Census data), can Republicans be trusted to run Congress again so soon after the mess they made of it the last time they were in charge? It isn't just the scandals that tainted the party -- from Mark Foley's too close association with male pages, to "Duke" Cunningham's feathering of his financial nest that landed him in prison.

It also is about expanding big government, which the “not-so-grand" old party was all too willing to do. It is no excuse that Republicans expand government at a slightly slower pace than the Democrats. Why is it that Republicans want to pacify the media and liberal Democrats by compromising their principles in order to win approval from a party and an institution that would be happy to see them fade away?

When Democrats are in charge of government, they don't compromise. Look at the spending wreckage the Obama administration and the Reid-Pelosi wing of the Democratic Party has caused. They don't compromise unless they absolutely must, and even then it is only temporary until they get the votes -- or put in place regulators -- who will achieve their objectives for them. They can mostly count on the twin sisters of Maine -- Senators Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, with an occasional vote from Massachusetts' Scott Brown and South Carolina's Lindsey Graham -- to go along with them.

Democrats are about restructuring America. And too many Republicans seem content with applying paint to the new structure, rather than tearing it down and rebuilding on a more sure foundation (that is, the Constitution).

If November is about a re-run of the past, Republicans this time won't have years to get their act together. The public is paying attention. Should Republicans win back a majority in Congress, they must first stop the Obama agenda cold. That includes federal judicial nominations. They must then replace it with something that works and learn to stand against the tired old Democratic shtick about Republicans caring only for "the rich" and not "the little guy."

How about showing some examples of little guys who became rich, or at least self-sustaining, by embracing Republican and conservative principles? That would counter the Democrats' parade of misery they like to stage every time Republicans call for tax cuts and reduced spending. This time -- should Republicans win in November -- let's have reduced spending and a reformation of government along the lines of what the Founders intended. If Republicans can't pledge to do that and then actually do it, what's the point of having them as a political party?

Cal Thomas is America’s most widely syndicated newspaper columnist and a Fox News contributor.

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