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.
For the mythical beginnings of a presidency, fully invested in the election rhetoric of “Hope and Change”, the current realities are far short of the promises. A massively increased deficit, an additional war (yes, I know, it’s not a war – it is a “kinetic military action“), and a highly polarized American public, are some of the things that have been changed, and the hope looks farther and farther away as his term in office rolls onward. Regular bouts of inaction, frequently follow up by mercurial rhetoric, have also become expected by this president. It’s almost as though at the exact times he should do nothing, he acts (usually wrongly), and at the times he should act, he does nothing.
Proof of the inaction-when-action should be the order? A few examples come to mind. First, when the Green Revolution in Iran tried to topple one of the world’s most threatening regimes, in the Middle East, that of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He could have decried the stolen election itself, or when the electoral opponents claimed widespread vote-fraud, the Iranian government’s violent crackdown. While protesters were marching in the streets, and shouting at any media that they could find, requesting assistance and aid from the United States or other western powers, our president did nothing. Perhaps he thought his presidency was too young to risk going to war to help a people struggling for some measure of freedom? Perhaps he was afraid of unintentionally helping nefarious elements hiding in the Iranian freedom movement? I doubt that was the case, since a year later, he was faced with a similar situation in Egypt. Again, the order of the day was nothing. Even the main stream media began to wonder if the president would even mention the ongoing plight of the thousands in Tahrir (“Liberation”) Square in Cairo. Eventually, he did speak, and strongly urged the despot-for-life, Hosni Mubarak to step down. No shots fired, and he can still take credit for “helping” the situation. Since, he has tried to open diplomatic channels with what appears to be the new Egyptian government, consisting of the Muslim Brotherhood, among others. Currently, while Syrians march, and face their own military’s live firing at them, the president is wholly silent on the escalating slaughter.
For whatever reason, his actions seem to come with either little point, or at a major expense of some sort. I suspect because of his formerly mentioned neglecting to act against a threat that may have been “tough”, he is now overcompensating. While previously arguing against military actions in Iraq and escalation in Afghanistan, he has opened a new war front in Libya, via NATO. As it stands, the world now faces a hardened and angry Muammar Gaddafi. He has already threatened to blow up Tripoli to spite our NATO allies. This entire military action required a complete “go around” of the United States Congress, but whatever – he’s trying to show the world he carries a big stick, I suppose. I doubt that casts him in a good light anywhere, especially in the Middle East.
I find it ironic that the little man in the Oval Office seems far more likely to use a heavy hand with his own people than against outside threats. You should remember his retort to American concerns about his spending, and the legislation happily passed by Congress, that he then signed – “We won”. This is the same president who had referred to the Republicans as the “party of no”. This is also the same guy who has rejected every plan that the Republican House has offered to try to rein in run-away spending. This is the same president who looks into a camera and claims to Americans that he is trying to negotiate “in good faith”. I for one do not buy it. I have seen far too much in this still young presidency, to take anything he says at face value. I caught a show this afternoon that raised the possibility of a Republican landslide in 2012. Most opinion polls show his approval ratings sliding downward consistently (if you do not count the bump he got for ordering a SEAL Team Six to take out public enemy number one, Osama Bin Laden). Senator Bernie Sanders has even raised the question of having someone primary the president. I am heartened to find out I am not the only one who sees this political neophyte and clueless organizer for what he is. At the same time I realize, we only have two more years of this incompetence, I think, we still have two more years of this incompetence!
Dear “The Left”,
I open by admitting to never having embraced a single position you hold, and I highly doubt I ever will. I like to think that I have the ability to use objectivity, logic, pragmatism, and common sense to arrive at a position that is agreeable to my mental and social compasses. It is a solution I find frequently arrived to, with careful consideration, analysis, and weighing possible alternatives. I also have the ability to appreciate when someone is arguing in their own best interest, and I think, like most people, I feel more open to conversation and discussion when this is the case.
With that being said, I find the left’s tendencies as of late to be disconcerting. They seem to have happily abandoned any semblance of sensible reasoning and tossed vested interest to the wayside. Where their stances used to just make no sense to me, or where you could plainly see that someone’s been done a payback or favor, it seems more and more like the left is simply bound and determined to undermine and cause destruction. Frankly, your tendency to spend money that doesn’t exist, and refuse to stop whilst spending yet more gives me headaches. The disgust and demonizing of George Bush going to war is puzzling, especially as you have little if anything to say about our current “kinetic military action” in Libya. I find it mind-boggling to think that they’ve finally arrived at a place in their collective minds, where they would argue, even against their own self-interests, and against positions that they have claimed for decades. All the sudden, it seems, the saying, “You have to go along to get along” is gone.
When a political group, such as the left, begins to whither and age, and lose members, there is no doubt that a couple of things must happen: the lost members/support must be made up, with increased support from remaining members, or the group must embrace new issues to draw in new personnel. The left seems to have not given any thought or concern to which of these new issues they are embracing, even alienating some of the previous Democrats (think Blue-Dog or more classical Democrats). As they’ve embraced the new and much more liberal issues, they may have gained new recruits on the far left, but I suspect have lost more former supporters from the the mid-left. This hardly seems like a viable way to build support and a consensus party.
Even as they have adopted new issues, and as they have proven unpopular, they have remained steadfastly supportive of them. The Obamacare bill, all 2,000+ pages of it, is a great example. As snippets and bits of the bill became known (and perhaps the worst thing connected to the bill, Nancy Pelosi claimed, “…but, we have to pass the bill for you to find out what is in it…”) people grew quickly and strongly against it. And yet, the democrats stuck to it, convinced it was something special. Claiming a mandate by America (and neglecting the possibility that the voters were simply tired of GOP spending), they charged ahead. And then November 2010 elections rolled around, and some of the same people, convinced that the bill was something Americans wanted, were shown the electoral door.
Lastly, and perhaps the most upsetting and disgusting tendency of the “new left”, is the personal nature of their attacks. They think little of attacking and smearing their targets. Online leftist “journalists” or snark-meisters, protected by the distance of their keyboard to their target, and the seeming anonymity of the Internet, think that anyone and anything is a target. Even people who have not even joined a political race, see their children being targeted, disgustingly, by “humor” websites. Media personalities are harassed at public events and have their spouse assaulted by drunken spectators. Some personalities feel free to speak however they like, with as much venom and vitriol as they want (which is fine, I too am a strong believer in the 1st Amendment), but the problem is, the talking heads quickly back off those same statements, refusing to take any responsibility for their words.
So, I ask of you – is this what the left has become? The former party of Roosevelt, Kennedy, and Clinton, having totally lost credibility, relegated to also-rans, giving up, and fighting dirty and like a petulant group of adolescents? A party of disenfranchised misanthropes? And before you think that, well, the conservative media picks on us too – save it. We on the right have spent the entire Bush presidency putting up with the same sorts of juvenile displays. And we still remember things like Robert Bork. I cannot count once a Democrat’s special needs child tastelessly lampooned. If this is perfectly fine with you, then I fear you have relegated your own party to ridicule and non-consideration. I fear the left has long ago accepted its fate as a dwendling mishmash of angry, bitter special interest groups.
Americans everywhere who are tired of this garbage.