For the record, count me among the opponents of the fiscal cliff-averting measure that passed the House and Senate this week.
But please do not count me among those for whom this was a do-or-die litmus test for conservative veracity.
There are things members of Congress could do that would explode their reputations with me-- endorse Obamacare, back Roe v. Wade, cozy up to terrorists-- but when all is said and done, these days of intra-party angst are about differences in strategy, not goals.
From my North Texas base, I watched our area’s Republican contingent vote no, with opposition extending even to members who occasionally take heat for coziness with the “establishment.”
There was one exception-- Pete Sessions, who is about to trade his job atop the National Republican Congressional Committee for a new challenge: chairman of the House Rules Committee.
I’ve known Pete since before he went to Congress in the elections of 1996. I will hear no claims that he is weak on conservative principle. But I had to ask why he would side with John Boehner and 83 other loyalists and not the 151 stout souls who said no.
He said he was driven to solidify the Bush-era tax cuts for the deserving Americans between roughly $250,000 and $450,000 in income. He said he was compelled to seize the opportunity to do the right thing on the estate tax, alternative minimum tax and other worthy portions of the measure embraced by Boehner and his Senate counterpart, Mitch McConnell.
But the measure was also embraced by President Obama, whose thirst for taxes will never be quenched. Wasn’t a momentary trip off the fiscal cliff preferable to giving in to even part of his fetish for fresh citizen wealth?
It was for me, but not for Pete. Or Paul Ryan, for that matter, whom I continue to admire. I do wish Ryan would stop couching votes like this in the language of “applying our principles to the realities of governing.” When I read that, I wince in anticipation of future surrenders.
Do Democrats wring their hands when faced with Republican presidents and GOP congressional majorities? I seem to notice they double down and fight harder at those times, even when success is unlikely.
I want conservatives to do at least as much, because when we do it, we are actually right.
I don’t care that Obama won. I don’t care that Harry Reid still runs the Senate. I want Republicans to carry conservative shields and swords into every battle.
If a measure adds to the punishment of success, it is to be opposed.
If a measure fails to address obscene spending, it is to be opposed.
If a measure compromises on core values, it is to be opposed.