by Jeffrey A. Rendall
Should a politician compete for every vote? It depends on who you ask… and who the voter is.
In the case of the disgraced anti-Trump Republican establishment, there’s only so far to go to please them (largely because they can’t be satisfied). Four years into the political career of President Donald Trump he’s still having difficulty convincing his Republican skeptics that his is a legitimate political movement grounded in populist America First principles, and he’s fostering conservative policy successes beyond anything someone more politically palatable (to the old stodgy status-quo loving GOP bluebloods) could’ve ever achieved.
This group is facing the proverbial choice between a rock and a hard place. With the extreme nature of the 2020 Democrat field, there’s just no other way to go for the friend-less #NeverTrump crowd. Even Trump’s more vocal congressional critics are seeing the writing on the wall — and they’re keeping to themselves out of necessity and rear-end covering.
David M. Drucker reported at The Washington Examiner, “President Trump is exhausting Republican adversaries in Congress, as many dial back the criticism out of frustration with the media and fear of instigating a primary challenge against themselves or helping an increasingly liberal Democratic Party win back the White House.
“Once quick to scold Trump for rhetoric deemed morally offensive, leading establishment-oriented Republicans uncomfortable with the president’s combative behavior have pressed the mute button. They resent the media for hounding them to answer for every Trump faux pas, especially as the 2020 campaign accelerates, and along with it, the frequency of the president’s zingers. The Democratic debates, too, are having a critical impact. Republicans fret that beating up Trump could contribute to the election of a radical liberal…
“For some, there’s also the matter of self-preservation. The GOP primary season is right around the corner, and the president’s loyal base has proven unforgiving to Republicans who stray…”
Almost makes you feel sorry for ‘em, doesn’t it? The days when the Republican ruling class could do or say anything may finally be over — or at least put on hold until Trump passes from the scene. In the not so distant past establishmentarians openly pecked at conservatives without fear of retribution or sanction, because they knew they held all the power cards and conservatives were too scattered and uncoordinated to confront them.
Further, this liberty-loving government accountability faction lacked true leadership. Sure, those like Senator Jim DeMint, Sen. Tom Coburn and Rep. Ron Paul tried speaking out about the spendthrift and “War Party” ways of the party leadership, all to be ignored or backed into a corner and minimized by the powers-that-be. More recently the late Sen. John McCain called conservatives Ted Cruz and Rand Paul “wacko birds” because they came to Congress intent on draining the swamp rather than bathing in its reptile-infested waters.
As an example of the mindset, former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott felt emboldened to say “We don’t need a lot of Jim DeMint disciples. As soon as they get here, we need to co-opt them.” Lott was speaking of the new wave of Tea Party-backed candidates in 2010, which the establishment feared would come to Washington seeking to change things — you know, balance the budget, stand up to Obama, use procedural and constitutional powers (like the House’s control of the purse) to further the conservative pro-liberty cause, etc.
In other words, there’d be a new kind of Republican who wouldn’t blindly follow the ruling class shepherd and who considers the American People their boss instead of the GOP’s big donor class. Someone like Donald Trump.
Unfortunately a good many from the Republican class of 2010 did indeed become co-opted, and the party’s roundly failed to keep its promises (to get serious about cutting spending and bringing down the atrociously bloated national debt). The establishment held control over the GOP’s House and Senate leadership, a stranglehold that continues to this day.
But try as they might, the ruling class can’t maneuver Trump, and it bugs them. Drucker’s story offered the recent kerfuffle over the president’s tweets regarding “rat infested” Baltimore and Rep. Elijah Cummings as a case where Republicans kept to themselves rather than rip Trump for his perceived lack of filter. Apparently, media members all ran to the usual establishment sources — like Sen. Mitt Romney — for a juicy anti-Trump comment yet came away empty. As would be expected, the establishmentarians cited weariness with the subject (Trump’s tweets) in declining to say anything negative — but they also didn’t defend Trump either.
There’s a simpler solution here. If someone like Mitt would back — or constructively disagree with rather than trash — the president and his positions on foreign policy, trade and the budget, the media would suddenly find him much less interesting and stop beating down his door for a quote every time Trump says or tweets something inflammatory. They don’t pester Ted Cruz, do they?
Why not take a page from the Democrats’ old playbook? Outside of the primary debate stage, do they ever say anything derogatory about their fellow party members?
Or what’s wrong with observing Ronald Reagan’s eleventh commandment: “Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican…”? This doesn’t mean everyone must bite their tongues whenever the subject (Trump’s statements) arises, but this is a team effort and teammates shouldn’t be working overtime to get their names in the media — and on opponents’ bulletin boards — by bashing on their would-be friends.
Up until recently Democrats were very practiced at never uttering anything that would imply less than complete unity and adherence to the exalted leadership’s dictates. Then the four kook members of “The Squad” came along, suggested Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s a racist and threatened to encourage a wave of primary challenges to incumbent Democrats who didn’t share their militant ideology. Then there’re the Democrat 2020 candidates, who were convinced they needed a sliver of Joe Biden’s flesh to survive last week — nourishment to keep themselves in the running. It got so bad several of them hinted that former President Barack Obama was something less than a deified liberal saint — stuff you just don’t say if you’re a Democrat and want to keep the poohbahs happy.
Hillary Clinton would never have been so bold. She’d backstab her mother if she felt it would help her politically… but Hill wouldn’t be caught dead tearing into Obama.
The Democrats’ complete party discipline meltdown might even be scaring the normally sleepy Republican establishment into seeing Trump in a different light. If the socialists among them — which granted, is most of the field — are so eager to snipe at Obama and Biden, who knows what lengths they’d go if they ever grabbed power. Candidates like Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth “Pocahontas” Warren, Kamala Harris and… [insert name here] are only helping Trump appear more mainstream.
If this new breed of Democrats wins there won’t be a seat at the table for GOP elites. Heck, there wouldn’t even be a table at all — everyone would sit on the ground and plan on how to get rid of the climate change-inducing air conditioner.
Trump may say some off-the-wall things occasionally but at least he’ll never advocate for government-controlled healthcare, the economy smothering “Green New Deal” or slavery reparation payments to people who’ve never been enslaved nor ever knew anyone who was a slave.
Those who believe in such things would never vote for a Republican anyway. Why compete for them? It looks like the ruling elites might finally be waking up… but we won’t hold our breath.
Regardless, Obama’s legacy is heading downhill fast, largely because he himself turned the Democrat Party into a leftist enclave. Don’t feel bad for him. Jonah Goldberg wrote at National Review, “The ranks of moderate and conservative Democrats were disproportionately hollowed out under Obama, while Democrats in deep-blue liberal areas were emboldened to move even further left. (Trump has had a similar effect on the right, decimating the moderate wing of the GOP while intensifying the partisanship of conservatives in safe red areas.)
“The big-name Democrats who survived Obama are more concerned by primary challenges to their left than by general-election threats from their right. As a result, they have a hard time talking to audiences that don’t already agree with them on the big questions.
“Those ultra-liberal politicians — Warren, Sanders, et al. — now drive the party to such a degree that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is seen as a moderating force on the Democrats. The moderates in the debates are like refugees of a wing of a party that has shrunk to a feather. Only Biden stands as a formidable figure, because of his time at Obama’s side.”
I don’t often agree with #NeverTrumper Goldberg, but he’s hit the nail on the head here. “Moderates” in both parties are gravitating towards the poles because they know there’s a primary challenge waiting for them if they seek personal fame and stardom over the best interests of the country.
Primary challenges are positive whenever there’s a politician who forgets where he came from. The voters are the boss. Represent their views in the House and the state’s views in the Senate. It’s not hard to understand. Wishy-washy establishment North Carolina Republican Senator Tom Tillis is facing a conservative primary opponent because he’s too often called attention to his own causes rather than stand up for his constituents’ beliefs.
If Tillis loses, perhaps others will get the message.
While it’s a good thing to say you’ll compete for every vote, closer analysis indicates it just isn’t possible. In today’s political climate there’s no such thing as the lowest common denominator; it’s best to take a position and defend it to the last and not worry about the naysayers. Just ask President Trump.
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Photo “Donald Trump” by Epoch Times. CC BY 2.0.