The presidential election is a mess. Often, the election rhetoric is full of charges of false conservatism and allegations that non-Trump supporters are Hillary supporters. At times, it must rely on fatally flawed logic. Trump’s supporters, lacking substantive (and consistent) merits to praise, must rely on assumption, distraction, and name-calling. Alternating between anger, fear, and a complete lack of self-preservation, the GOP has backed Trump.
Somewhere, there may be a political ledger with the balances of each camp, I think a more intriguing investigation is who owes who support, or their votes. The want of loyalty by Trump supporters for their man grows tedious – but why should that be? They would claim conservatives owe our votes to the Republican candidate. Critical thought and principles, need not attach to the equation.
What has happened to the simple action of heading to the ballot box, and pulling the lever for the Republican? When did this cease to be a viable reaction for voters? Was Trump in the wrong place at the wrong time? Was there actually a tipping point – a spot where voters dug their heels in, and said, “No – you move”?
We should reflect over the past ten years to gain perspective leading up to this moment. We could go further back, and use Bob Dole’s candidacy as a starting point, but I’ll start with John Boehner. Boehner, seeing his support erode in the House, sought to punish detractors. He removed “non-loyal” conservatives from House Committees where they could force fiscal responsibility. Representatives Tim Huelskamp, Justin Amash, and David Schweikert lost their committee positions. Conservatives raged, and said the GOP would pay.
GOP stalwarts like John McCain and Mitch McConnell often fought with conservatives. McCain called Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, “Wacko birds”. Mitch McConnell ran against a Tea Party candidate, and Trump donated to McConnell. And again, conservatives railed, and said the GOP would pay.
Donald Trump used friends in media, like the National Enquirer, to smear primary opponents. Unfounded rumors, ties to assassination, and marital infidelities were all used to tarnish opponents’ reputations. Those actions, echoed by his supporters, will only hinder promising candidates in future elections. Given an opportunity to walk back those claims, Trump refused, and said the Enquirer, “does have credibility“. And conservatives, knowing what kind of effect this would have in the future with those candidates targeted, knew an apology was due.
The GOP’s past actions, along with their steadfast support of Trump, has irritated conservatives. The final straw was Trump’s claim that, he doesn’t need conservative votes. And it was then, the conservatives finally realized they had a belief in common with Trump. And they had something that they would grant him.
Now, there is a history of the GOP taking conservatives for granted, and the GOP has spent as much political capital as they dare. Spending most, if not all of it, on big government types and otherwise non viable candidates. This election was finally where conservatives said, “No more”. Having spent, borrowed, begged, and promised – the GOP finds its base turning them away.
The idiom goes, “It’s easy to find a stick to beat a dog”, and the GOP and their recent leftward wandering candidates have no problem with sticks. But, they neglected to notice that the dog they beat isn’t chained – and it can simply walk away. And conservatives have.
An exodus from the GOP has boosted libertarian numbers, as conservatives now find more common ground with them. The conservatives perhaps see an ability to work together and build something with libertarians, where the GOP only needs their conservatives every four years. This leper-treatment by the GOP has no blame to lie at any place other than at their own feet.
For its taking, and never giving, its continual leftward march, and for its rejection of principles and critical thought. It is becoming clear that the GOP does not think it needs its conservatives, and having waged war against them, they may find it exceedingly hard to recover them. The GOP owes much to its conservatives -but to now demand their votes while Donald Trump as the titular head of the party? It is a loan too far. And conservatives should consider the debts already owed to them as unrecoverable.
In what will surely leave a sour taste in many conservatives’ mouths for some time, Speaker John Boehner has removed several conservative Republicans from leadership positions in the House of Representatives. The story, revealed on December 4th, made mention of a secret list of guidelines and criteria for reappointing Republicans to their chairs. Kansas Republican Tim Huelskamp acknowledged the revelation and existence of this secret list on Tuesday.
So far, the House leadership (Boehner, Cantor, and McCarthy) have been mum about the list, its origins, and why it was necessarily to determine which Republicans are no longer welcomed as leaders of committees. Those leaders attempted to explain the removals were merely normal, procedural, actions. Other angered Republicans expressed their disillusionment with the ridiculous nature of the secrecy and privileged nature of knowledge of the chair removals: Representative Jim Jordan (OH) said this kind of behavior was not good for the party; and Senator Jim DeMint (SC) went so far as to say conservatives “Lost the battle in Washington for now”. The conservative, Club for Growth is calling for the release of the list of criteria used by Boehner to replace the chairs.
Jeb Hensarling, who is the incoming chair of the House Financial Services Committee, claimed ignorance of the entire mess. He just happens to move into a newly opened spot, and knows nothing about the vacated position? Even if Hensarling did have an inkling of a political payback, he is now wise to the game, and he is keeping his mouth tightly closed.
It is interesting that a number of blogs and news sources actually refer to the fiasco, as a purging of conservatives from leadership positions in Washington. I find parallels to 20th century leaders. Feeling threatened, those same leaders – even though their supporters were successful, and showed themselves as loyal adherents of the party orthodoxy – were eliminated as chairmen from leadership positions. Minimizing or eliminating any threats to any top dog (in this case, top-dog Boehner) will occur.
The rise of the Tea Party, and the re-ascendancy of conservative values, have worried the progressives in the United States, and now we see how much the Republican establishment is uneasy too. While a nameless Congressional aide confirms that the removals from the chairs were payback, what does it say about a Republican leadership who would rather snipe and in-fight, than take on progressives in the White House and Senate? It seems like familiarity really does breed contempt. Apparently Boehner would rather stock committees with his sycophants and yes-men, than appoint responsibly spending conservatives, voted into the House by their constituents, to chairs of fiscal committees.
The years of conservative criticism that Boehner was nothing more than an ineffective, establishment shill, seem to finally have the evidence anyone would ever require to confirm their belief. Boehner’s frequent crying episodes, and his tough-guy-only-to-cave-to-Democrat-demands acts have grown very thin. Boehner has done little, if anything, to curb Obama’s runaway debts and deficits, or to counter progressives’ deceitful claims about Republicans, or even hold the Senate responsible for tabling so much that the House has passed and sent to the body. Boehner’s media presence is lacking, his laid back nature is contrary to what is needed right now, and his frequent bouts of one-sided “compromise” are antithetical to conservatives’ belief that there is one way to conduct politics: competently, fiscally responsibly, and at the direction of their constituents, not special interests.
How do you deal with a politician like John Boehner? Do you call his Congressional office, and leave a strongly-worded message? Do you scowl and swear whenever you see Boehner’s mug on the television screen? Do you buy an overly-tanned voodoo doll and some stick pins? Of course not. You hit him where he has shown he has soft spots. You make him worry about the people that he has shown he fears. Conservatives must take every opportunity to hold his feet not only to the fire, but in the fire. It is clear that Boehner may need to be primaried to send a message to him. If so, do it, and get him to debate, to explain his frequent collapses to the Democrats and his wishy-washy support of fiscal responsibility. Whatever it takes, Boehner ought to be run out of town on a rail.
Conservatives today, collectively awoke and received a gut-punch, with the news of Andrew Breitbart’s passing. He apparently had collapsed in Los Angeles, was now fighting the good fight in the Heavens. The effect he had on politics in the United States, still hasn’t been fully realized, and after the depressing losses in recent elections, I give him full credit for reinvigorating the GOP’s base. He took the full force of the media, and whatever barbs the unhinged left threw at him, and the man never so much as blinked. He was the person I thank most, for destroying the myth that the mainstream media was this huge, unassailable machine, who were above all consequences of their truth-bending.
By leading so many discontented conservatives and republicans to his Big sites, he showed us that we weren’t just lone, disgruntled people, but that there were plenty of others in the nation. And most importantly, rather than just reveal us to one another, he brought an entire nation of liked-minded people together. In my mind that will be Andrew’s legacy – that the left’s strategy of “divide and conquer” still wasn’t working, and that the right was still there, plugging along, but in serious need of a leader.
By being the fearless and tireless leader – the person who was most needed at the most perfect moments – the debt owed to you, Andrew, will never be able to be repaid.
I had not intended to write another post, surely not another so soon, about Rick Santorum, and I felt as though I covered my concerns about him in a previous post. It turns out, over the span of the last week or so, he has done things that again made my ears perk up, and forced me to do research, confirming that I had heard the things I had actually heard. Again, my worries seem to have been proven true, and the things I thought (and hoped) had to be media stretching the truth, were confirmed…
Most Recent Missteps
On a recent Sunday morning media shows, gearing up for a double primary today, in Michigan and Arizona, Rick Santorum knew he had to try to rebound from his poor performance in the last debate in Arizona. If I were him, I think I would have stressed the reasons I was the fitter candidate, and why my decision-making skills were the best among the candidates. However, Santorum seems to have given his opponents on the right and the left plenty to think about. In a time when people balked at the notion that the President has given an order to American religious groups, that they must provide contraceptives to employees, Rick Santorum said President Kennedy’s remarks about the separation of church and state made him “want to throw-up”. My main concern is that if a leader can give a directive from a secular stance, to religious groups (and we all think that is an overreach), then why would it be better that a religious-oriented leader give a directive to secular groups? This seems to be what Santorum is endorsing when he rejects Kennedy’s assurances to Baptist leaders in the 1960 election. While I would not go as far as Chris Matthews, and call Santorum a “theocrat,” I do worry that either playing to more religious voters, or dragging this election to a more social-issue oriented election, is tantamount to throwing away the biggest electoral-weapon the GOP has – the ECONOMY! They should be taking the economy, and how Obama has thrown away money, time after time, and ride that horse to death. Rely on winning back the Senate, and making it more conservative, to then legislate more socially conservative issues to send to the Republican president.
The second concern that I have with recent Santorum remarks, is that he was against the open-primary system. While he was in Minnesota, he criticized permitting Democrats to vote in open, Republican, primaries. The CNN article below, mentions that there was a good chance his criticism was a result of Mitt Romney’s winning the New Hampshire primary. Santorum went so far as to suggest that anyone voting against their party affiliation, should just go ahead and switch parties.
“We want the activists of the party, the people who make up the backbone of the Republican Party to have a say in who our nominee is as opposed to a bunch of people who don’t even identify themselves as Republicans picking our nominee,” Santorum told voters on the call held January 29. “I don’t like that. I believe that states should only allow Republicans to vote in Republican primaries.” (via CNN)
Once he began to show some life in a close Michigan race, and various liberal sources began to throw around the idea of a leftwing version of Rush Limbaugh’s “Operation Chaos,” he suddenly changed his attitude. He then began to support robo-calls to try to get all the support from whatever places that he could – even those Democrats that he crititized in Minnesota. This is unfortunate, and it puts me in mind of the “Father of Flip-Flopping,” John Kerry. (Now do not send me comments – I am NOT calling Rick Santorum, John Kerry – but Kerry is so inextricably bound to the “flip-flop,” whenever I see it, I think of him, so sue me…) What I am suggesting is that it is possible that other voters make the same connection, and it turns them completely off.
I fear that losing Arizona and Michigan on the 28th may force Santorum into a more desperate position, and I wonder what different issues he may begin to adopt and endorse, to try to salvage his campaign. While I do hope he stays active in the race (no matter the outcome), and afterward keeps conservative social issues in the news, I do not think that now is the time for doing so.
So, according to the talking heads, Rick Santorum is the newest GOP front runner, and is therefore unstoppable (like the others were in their turns at the top). If he is going to successfully run against Mitt Romney, and displace the projected GOP nominee, and then go on to face Obama in the general election, people need to give him a closer look, instead of just making him their “Not-Mitt” pick. Now, I get a strange feeling from the guy, especially when he claims to be the only conservative candidate left with a shot in the primary (Newt claimed the same thing at one time). I would never vote for (or not vote for) a candidate because of a feeling, and I would not ask anyone else to do so either. So, I did a little research, and from what I have read, Santorum’s claimed conservancy is shaky at best.
My first concern is that Santorum was a legislator. Now, I realize this sounds this minor, but I think the mindset of a man with a legislative background is different from a man with an executive background. The legislator wants to build consensus, and reach compromise. I would rather have a candidate who has lead something, via governorship or as a business executive. Rick Perry would have perfectly fulfilled my idea of a candidate with leadership skills and was someone who understands that building a consensus takes time you may not have. I offer the current president, as example of a person who looks to build a coalition of yes-men and enablers (his cabinet/czars/advisers), and seems to be awkward and stiff when pushed to make a decision, which frequently turns out to be problematic.
Another concern I have is the things Rick supported while he was in the United States Congress. Bills and programs that do not seem too “conservative” to me. For example, legislation like “No Child Left Behind”, which not only grew educational and federal government bureaucracies, but mandated testing and tracking of school children, was something supported by Santorum. Just within the last month, it was given a waiver in ten states. While in the Senate, Santorum sponsored the “GAS Act”, which would have created a new, Federal Trade Commission-run “Competitive Pricing Task Force” to study energy pricing, and levy fines if the seller was determined to be fixing their prices after a release of strategic petroleum reserves by the president. Thankfully, the bill went nowhere, and the chance for bureaucratic growth was stymied. In my mind, all this legislative double-talk would have done nothing more than increase the size of government bureaucracy for (ultimately) arbitrary reasons.
Santorum has also shown a few lapses in judgment. He supported George W. Bush’s failed judicial nominee, Harriet Miers, saying that the fact she had never been a judge before did not matter. A closer, more critical review of her (and increasing criticism by democrats and others), led him to retract his support. He voted for a Chuck Schumer-sponsored bill that restricted abortion protesters from blocking or impeding access to abortion clinics. While I do not think those choices are in and of themselves bad, for a politician like Santorum, that has espoused so many conservative beliefs and voted so conservatively for so long – it really makes his rare, occasional departure from those conservative ideals unexpected and seem radical to me. Despite all this, I would still see myself as able to hold my nose and vote for him.
Unfortunately, I still have not mentioned what I consider to be the worst of his transgressions. He has bragged about working with Barbra Boxer, and he even bragged about the number of earmarks he has supported. In the worst behavior Santorum exhibited, he supported Arlen Specter in the 2004 Senate race against conservative Republican, Pat Toomey. Ironically, some of the same supporters who donated to Santorum, found themselves at odds with his support (of Specter), because the donators supported the more conservative Toomey instead. Again, that may not seem too bad when considered only on that fact. However, as we know, Arlen Specter continued to veer increasingly-leftward in his politics after winning a narrow race against Toomey, and Specter ended up switching party allegiances, becoming a Democrat, and then losing his election following that switch. The worst part of the whole mess, was that it was Specter who cast the crucial 60th vote for Obamacare. Here is Specter, bragging about both his switch and vote. As we have found this last week, now the Obamacare fiasco has been used to try to force religious agencies/employers to cover things completely contrary to the tenets of their faith. While it may be unfair to blame Santorum for all the fallout from his support for Specter, he certainly does not have clean hands in the ongoing messes either.