by Jeffrey A. Rendall
In olden times by far the most tedious part of being a sailor had to be lookout duty. After all, in most cases the lookout’s stationed high up in the crow’s nest gazing out across the vast and empty sea searching for something – anything – that could be interpreted as a hazard to the ship.
When sailing in the open ocean the chances of actually encountering a threat is slim indeed, yet the duty was vital nonetheless. A lookout can’t afford to be complacent. The last thing he’d want to do is to miss an iceberg dead ahead or an enemy ship to the port side.
Or perhaps even a big wave. Tidal waves certainly didn’t occur very often, but when they arose they were destructive and deadly.
The GOP would benefit from stationing a lookout in the proverbial political crow’s nest because Republicans hope to blunt a big blue wave this November. Some in the party are banking on tax reform to be their salvation from the ravages of a storm on the horizon.
David M. Drucker of the Washington Examiner wrote, “[S]omething is happening to the dark blue Democratic tsunami that everyone saw coming, and it is happening just as the country heads toward Trump’s first midterm election. It is receding, shrinking into a swell that may prove navigable as voters increasingly feel the tax bill’s impact on the economy in general and their own pocketbooks in particular. They are reassessing their opinion of both the legislation and the Republicans who, without help from a single Democrat, delivered it.
“Since the law was enacted, voters’ confidence in the economy and their personal finances have soared. Polling fluctuates, with some surveys still showing major turbulence ahead for Republicans. Party strategists warn that GOP majorities in Congress are still under significant threat. But Trump’s average job approval numbers have risen from the mid- to high-30s to the low- to mid-40s in what could be a critical indicator of GOP fortunes, and the Democrats’ average generic ballot advantage has dropped from double digits to single digits.
“The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act has proved more popular than unpopular in some recent surveys. It’s not just the public numbers, either. Republicans are seeing the results in their private data, easing some anxiety at least for now.”
Anxiety? Anxiety is when you can’t pay the mortgage or your kid’s sick and you can’t do anything to ease his or her suffering. Normal people don’t experience anxiety over the prospect of losing an election – that’s for political consultants and swamp creatures to fuss over. The Washington DC mentality places undue importance on the turning of numbers in a poll but it makes sense if Republicans only do their jobs that their favorability ratings will rise accordingly.
During his heyday golfer Tiger Woods was often asked if he worried about maintaining the top spot in the world golf rankings and his reply was always the same, something akin to “If I play well the #1 ranking will take care of itself.”
Well, if Republicans keep their promises elections will take care of themselves too. Voters entrusted the GOP with the presidency and majorities in Congress (along with gobs of state legislative seats) under the belief Republicans would be true to their word and deliver on the conservative governance the party’s candidates always swear by every two, four or six years.
While it’s true many issues can be dissected and partitioned into partial promises, there isn’t much excuse for failing to repeal Obamacare when it’s what you’ve been vowing to do for eight years. Ditto for tax reform which Republicans passed with only a token few defectors. Now, according to Drucker’s report, party members are starting to see popular benefits from the success of the new law.
In essence congressional Republicans should pay less attention to what President Trump is tweeting on any given day and devote more focus to moving legislation through the process…or confirming administration personnel and judicial appointments. A good place to start would be working a little longer and harder at accomplishing simple matters.
Stalwart conservative Christopher Bedford wrote the other day at The Daily Caller, “Executive governance is out of style. On Friday, while 26 Senate Democrats up for re-election went home to their states or elsewhere to speak and raise money with which to batter Republicans in November, 139 of the White House’s nominees languished in positions from undersecretary for arms control and international security affairs to director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center.
“According to the Senate rules Democrats and their Republican enablers love to cite, they have to wait 30 hours after ending debate. This has turned into three or so nominees confirmed a week, averaging 79 days a nominee, with McConnell himself griping that at this rate, it will take 11 years to confirm Trump’s nominees. That’s nearly three weeks longer than the average for President Barack Obama, whose appointees, meanwhile, form the backbone of the ‘resistance’ inside our federal government — ‘the deep state’ that liberals in the media like to pretend is some type of hallucination, possibly caused by ‘swamp gas.’”
So while many federal departments are still administered by Obama political holdovers the senate Republican leadership allows Democrats to unnecessarily abuse the rules to stall votes on Trump appointments. Rather than worry about stupid fluctuating poll numbers why can’t Mitch McConnell and crew call Democrats on their bluff and force them into “talking filibusters” for everything they’ve worked so hard to delay?
Do Democrats have sufficient saliva in their mouths and hot air in their lungs to talk forever? Here’s thinking after Americans grasp how much time Democrats wasted a backlash will ensue.
It doesn’t take a genius to discern Democrats are sparing nothing to ensure as little as possible gets done ahead of the 2018 midterms. Then, if Democrats lose again, they’ll redouble their delaying efforts in the next two years ahead of the 2020 presidential election. Why? Because they know if President Trump and Republicans succeed in passing additional popular legislation (like the tax cut bill) Democrats will be permanently relegated to the outside looking in.
Liberal groups see improving generic ballot numbers for Republicans and practically beg Democrat candidates to cease bashing on Trump (as their sole justification for holding power) and present some sort of economic package Americans can latch onto. Identity politics doesn’t work for voters who pay attention to the details – and Trump’s eccentric behavior is becoming more and more the acceptable norm.
Trump’s recent announcement confirming he’s running for reelection squelches talk of him voluntarily going away. If Democrats are to retake power they have to offer something different. But what?
Trump isn’t like past presidents and doesn’t try to be. Trump the candidate repeatedly stated he didn’t like how Washington was governed so he’s doing it his way now. That’s what leaders do. Conservatives don’t appreciate it when Trump goes off the reservation (the Second Amendment?) but in general things are moving along nicely.
Conservatives also worry about the recent Trump-ian trend of injecting himself into primaries on the establishment’s side. Several important GOP primaries are rapidly approaching, the results of which will go a long way towards determining the level of grassroots enthusiasm going into November. Both parties have some interesting contests at hand.
W. James Antle III of the Washington Examiner wrote, “Suburban areas where the ‘Resistance’ against President Trump is powerful are particularly overstuffed with eager candidates, while Democrats would like to see more aspirants come forward in working-class districts…
“Some of these contests could end up being a replay of the 2016 presidential nomination battle between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, as liberal and centrist infighting persists into the general election and frays party unity. In other cases, they run the risk of not having their strongest candidate make it to November.
“Republicans are familiar with this dilemma. Incumbents have often faced ideologically motivated primary challengers, and with increasing frequency in the Tea Party era. The winners of these contested primaries haven’t always been the candidates who would fare best in November.”
Ah yes, the “electability” argument, all too often deployed as a weapon against good conservative candidates challenging establishment incumbents or a ruling class favorite in an open contest. Elitist head honcho Mitch McConnell spared nothing in blasting away at Rep. Mo Brooks in last year’s Alabama GOP primary hoping to pave the path for establishment Sen. Luther Strange to coast to victory.
As a result Judge Roy Moore won the state’s conservative support, defeated Strange and the rest is history. No use relitigating a moot case. Alabama served as a reminder of the depths the establishment will slouch to in order to save their own skins – even if it means losing a seat to the Democrats.
The Mississippi GOP senate primary in particular just got more interesting the other day as Sen. Thad Cochran announced he’s stepping down because of health reasons, effective April 1. Cochran all-but stole the state’s 2014 GOP nomination away from conservative challenger Chris McDaniel, ripping open a wound with grassroots conservatives that hasn’t yet healed. McDaniel is back at it this year running against incumbent Republican Sen. Roger Wicker.
Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant would be smart to appoint McDaniel to fill Cochran’s seat until the special election in November. Doing so would give the grassroots what they want – rock solid conservative McDaniel representing their state in Washington – and also keep the establishment happy by preserving Wicker’s safe seat.
The idea almost makes too much sense, which is why Bryant likely won’t do it (apparently he and McDaniel don’t get along very well and the Mississippi GOP establishment will do anything to keep McDaniel down). But even if McDaniel loses to Wicker in the June state GOP primary he can still run in the “jungle primary” for Cochran’s vacated seat in November, where he’d certainly have a good shot.
Establishment Republicans must respect the enthusiasm factor in this year’s general elections. Complacency, not the Democrats, is the number one enemy this year. The minority party doesn’t offer any new policy ideas and as Antle III pointed out (above), they’ve got intra-party differences (between the Democrat establishment and the insurgent Bernie Sanders ultra-leftist wing) of their own to solve.
Democrats proved in Virginia and Alabama they’re motivated to turnout this year despite the absence of direction and meritorious proposals from party leadership. Democrats just want to hurt Trump – for them, that’s reason enough.
To immunize Republican voters from the lethal complacency bug the party must run strong conservative candidates, not just establishment rubber-stamps who will march to Mitch McConnell’s drumbeat and fail to fight for President Trump’s agenda. We need boat-rockers seeking to annihilate the status quo. Something to think about as the months go by.