The Crack in the Dam
It seems the first serious crack in the dam of Republican unity has now appeared, courtesy of the American Conservative Union. In a press release earlier this week, America's oldest conservative group said:
]T]he Board of Directors of the American Conservative Union, acting on behalf of over one million ACU members and supporters, do hereby express their grave concern that the Republican Party has abandoned its traditional belief that the individual has supremacy over the state. Big government, in the hands of any party, threatens the rights and privacy of that individual. In the hands of the GOP, the federal government has grown bigger and faster in the last five years than during any previous five year period since The New Deal, and the GOP’s current leadership has forgotten the populist legacy of Ronald Reagan; andAs the ACU puts it in another press release:
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Board of Directors of the American Conservative Union applaud the efforts of Congressman Mike Pence (ie. Operation Offset), and other true conservatives, to curb the dangerous growth of government spending and regulation. As strongly as we support Congressman Pence, we just as vehemently oppose Speaker Hastert and other defenders of the status quo and urge them to remember that the GOP only became the majority governing party when it rejected Nelson Rockefeller’s liberal wing of the Republican Party and instead embraced the courageous conservative leadership of Ronald Reagan.
The Republican congressional leaders want Indiana’s Rep. Mike Pence to go away, or at least shut up.Democrats think that they can keep hammering away and eventually they'll find the magic bullet that will kill Republican political domination. The real threat to the GOP is right here, this issue.
They say that he’s grandstanding by talking about cutting spending and that the effort of the Republican Study Committee (RSC), which he chairs, to force them to look for offsets as they prepare to spend as much as $200 billion on hurricane relief, on top of the spending that already has conservatives rolling their eyes, is “counterproductive.”
Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas), House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) and Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), among others, took Pence to the woodshed last week and, we are told, informed him in the bluntest terms that the problem is not runaway spending or the Democrats but him and the RSC. It seems to be the leaders’ belief that, by criticizing spending, Pence and his hundred-odd followers are not the “team players” they should be because it is at least possible that whipping up popular anger on the issue could convince people that the GOP isn’t doing all it can to deliver on decades of promises to America’s voters.
DeLay went so far as to argue preemptively even before the meeting that there is no wasteful spending in the federal budget because of the effective leadership he and his buddies have provided over the years. Though he’s backed off a little from this statement in the past few days, he laid out his views in Monday’s Washington Times on how Republicans ought to “handle” this volatile issue:
“Our positioning on this issue — as a party that is strongly identified with the American people as sensible and determined protectors of the hardworking taxpayer — demands a unified and clear opposition to those whose policies and agendas are hostile to the taxpayer’s best interests: Capitol Hill Democrats intent on raising taxes, free-spending special-interest groups intent on curing the ills of society by advocating federal dollars as the only solution and a bevy of bureaucrats more interested in an expansion of federal programs than the reduction of ineffective ones.”
What Mr. DeLay doesn’t get is that it is precisely that identification that is in danger — not from Pence, but from the actions of the GOP in office. Republicans around the country are beginning to question the wisdom of devoting their time, treasure and votes to a party that doesn’t take its commitments seriously.
Americans see Republicans behaving in exactly the same out of control, wasteful, porky way that the Democrats did in their years of power, even after decades of promise that they would change Democratic "business as usual." The American conservative taxpayer is really mad right now and the expression of that anger will come in 2006 if the Republican leadership doesn't change its ways right now.
Operation Offset is nothing but a reasonable request to balance unexpected emergency funding with equal emergency cuts in non-necessary projects and programs. It's longer range goal, buried in the plan itself, is to re-introduce fiscal responsibility into the Federal equation and Republican actions. It's all to the good. (Tennessee's Representative Marsha Blackburn is a member of Operation Offset, by the way. Good for her, and Tennessee!)
The worst of all possible outcomes is facing us right now. If voters turn out Republican legislators in disgust at their rejection of fiscal responsibility and border security, they may put Democrats back in office, rather than just turning out the miscreants in primary elections. (That is, unless some true conservative Republicans can get into the primaries and block the wasters. It's tough to do.) If Democrats get even the slightest of wins, they will crow and boast about "mandates" and "rejections" and whatnot. But it won't be a real win, one based on platform and principle, but simply a "lesser of two evils" choice that Democrats will willfully and gleefully exploit.
And the Democrats will have the MoveOn.org / Democratic Underground / Daily Kos / Mike Moore / anti-Whatcha got American? loons in charge, or increasing their efforts in their putsch to take over the party for good. Long range, I wouldn't mind that; it will only increase the depth and length of their exile. That's fine by me. But coming now, as the struggle is not quite clear, it will instead embolden and derange the Democrats, and wreck the nation.
There is a part of me which would like to see our political status quo wrecked, I have to admit. It's only by revolution that great change takes place. But having this group of Democrats -- with no positive agenda and powered by hatred and negativity -- at the helm when the revolution comes could mean great danger.
There is another danger: the likelihood of a third party challenge to the Republicans over fiscal security and border control. Remember the Reform Party and what it stood for? The issues that powered them then are still with us today, and the Republicans have only proved Reform right all along by their actions now. Someone may take up the banner again, and we end up, again, with a minority Democratic President.
Some might argue that would be a good thing -- look what happened when Clinton (Elected with only a plurality thanks to Reform, about the same as President Bush's popularity right now! But he claimed mandate.) had to face a growing Republican majority in the Congress. but Clinton was a once-in-a-generation figure. He excelled and prospered even as his electric aura overshadowed the collapse of the Democratic Party underneath him. He is unique in politics; none of his pretenders for '08 can hold a candle to him.
Democrats will also not have the sensible (if wrong-headed) Old Guard at their helm, but the lunatic hordes of the Resurgent Far Left -- anti-Semitic, internationalist, isolationist, multiculturalist. And they will set about stepping up the pace and force of their takeover (and subsequent purges).
It's a horrible prospect. And it all lays at the feet of the Republican Party leadership now. Change is gonna come; question is who will be directing it?