We conservatives are principled, there’s no doubt about that. Unfortunately, far too many of us have the strategic sense of a beginning checkers player at the World Chess Championship. To put it bluntly – we’re idiots.
I use “we” because I’ve been guilty of this as well. But I’m not a part of the current Olympic-level “shooting ourselves in the foot” contest. This time, we need to put emotion aside and think.
Conservatives got bent out of shape this week over the “clean debt limit increase” that passed the House of Representatives. Is it sad? Absolutely. Was there any real choice in the matter? Absolutely not.
Go ahead, call me a squish. Knock yourself out.
Once you get that out of your system, think for a minute. What other possible outcomes could there have been? I can think of two:
One – Republicans add something to a debt limit increase to make it palatable. That bill goes to the Senate, Harry Reid removes it, doesn’t allow amendments, passes a clean increase and the House either passes it or refuses to, and the government again shuts down.
Republicans, unable to articulate their names most of the time, let alone a clear agenda, get the blame. The persuadable public, which only slightly favors Republicans in generic polls because they don’t favor Democrats, says “to hell with it, they’re all idiots” and stays home come November. Democrats, thanks to perpetually motivated progressive activists mobilizing low-information voters, hold the Senate and maybe retake the House.
Or two …
Actually, there is no “two.” If Republicans had not passed a clean increase and taken another shutdown off the table, Democrats would have forced a shutdown. Why? Because they don’t care about anything but their agenda, and their agenda is to hold on to power.
Democrats have nothing to offer the American public. They’re empty. We’re living the result of their dreams. Obamacare has been a disaster. Their economic policies have driven the hope of finding work out of more people in the last five years than have found jobs. Our standing in the world has never been lower.
People are hurting, particularly those Democrats claim to champion – the poor, minorities, women. And they’re hurting as a direct result of Democrats’ actions. Yet, motivated by fear and lies, their voters will show up in droves come November, and if Republicans screw up, progressives again will solidify their power and start again. Lather, rinse, repeat.
Conversely, conservatives simply get angry, sit on their hands and stay home on Election Day. (Look at the number of voters who stayed home in 2012. They were the difference makers.) What magic they expect to happen from controlling one-half of one-third of government remains a mystery.
I get it – there’s leverage in controlling the House of Representatives under normal circumstances, but these aren’t normal circumstances. The president and Senate majority leader are not interested in cutting deals. They have an agenda that empowers government, hooks more and more people on government subsidies and creates a new normal of a stagnant economy and government dependence. With the partisan media in their back pocket and a Republican Party unable or unwilling to articulate a vision, let alone an agenda, they have no reason to cut any deals.
The president told the “Lie of the Year” for three years and has yet to be held to account for it. And it was only one in a continual string of lies he’s told since Jan. 20, 2009. Yet he remains personally popular, and the media is on his side. When he says he’s willing to work with anyone with good ideas, then violates the Constitution by rewriting laws with his magic pen, the media yawns.
We have a Senate majority leader who won’t allow Republicans to offer amendments to any bills, refuses to take up scores of bills passed by the House and illegally changed Senate rules to place activists into the federal judiciary. And I’d bet dollars to donuts most people don’t know Democrats control the Senate. A lot of them probably don’t even realize the Senate exists. All they know is there is a “do- nothing Congress” somewhere, and Republicans control it.
With that reality, what were Republicans supposed to do? What are they supposed to do going forward?
Ideally, House Republicans would write and pass big-ideas legislation on tax reform, health care and regulatory relief to stimulate economic growth. If Republicans passed a series of unambiguously conservative, pro-growth, pro-liberty bills, they still would die in the Senate, but they’d have the Congressional Budget Office score showing the positive impact their agenda would have on the country. That would draw a clear line between Republicans and Democrats and allow a “this is what we have now, and this is what we are offering” campaign both this fall and in 2016.
Of course, this would require Republicans to write such bills without loading them up with horse-trading garbage and to be able to clearly and uniformly articulate a vision for the country in direct contrast with the Democrats’ reality.
It also would require conservative activist groups to disband their circular firing squads and direct a large portion of their significant funds to educating the public on principles rather than attacking “impure” allies. You want to have a purge? I’m down. But how about we wait till after we vanquish progressives? Is that too much to ask?
I realize this is a long shot. Conservatives are not the uniform drones progressives are. Members of Congress aren’t there because of their humility and common sense. And there’s a lot of money out there for conservative groups claiming the “big dog” mantle and complaining about “sell-outs.” In fact, for outside groups there’s more money in “fighting against” problems than in actually solving them.
Real conservative victory will require a strategic footing going forward from House and Senate Republicans and outside groups. That’s where we hit the wall.
Democrats don’t suffer from diversity of thought. Progressives keep their voters ignorant, afraid, angry and motivated. The progressives and the media are on the same page.
Republicans and conservatives, on the other hand, are a choir of soloists and showboats. There’s media attention in dissent. There’s money and influence in complaining. This doesn’t go just for politicians and outside groups, it applies to pundits and my industry of talk radio, where the fires of dissent are often sowed at the expense of foresight.
I’m not suggesting we conservatives have to sacrifice our principles, but we have to be pragmatic. The mid-term elections are Republicans’ to lose, and that’s one thing at which they excel.
Hope all you want, the president and the Democrats aren’t suddenly going to realize their policies are hurting the country. They already know and they don’t care. The only way to stop them and reverse their damage is to beat them in the next two elections. The only way to do that is to act strategically now. Principle is not overrated, but being pure and losing only makes you a pure loser. The cellist on the Titanic may have given his best performance ever that night as the ship was sinking…but he still drowned.