I’ve said on many occasions that I believe one-party rule is inherently corrupting, that I vote for Democrats whenever politically feasible for just that reason, and that I think the national GOP is for the most part non-representive of conservative or libertarian interests.
This is all true. And yet I’ve been pushing (and pushing and pushing) for GOP candidates, any GOP candidates, this election cycle.
Let’s look at Ronald Reagan in 1980 and 1981. He was the nominee of a Republican Party so moderate he felt he had to take on George H W Bush as his veep to reassure the party bigwigs. He faced a hostile House headed up by Tip O’Neil with solid Democratic majorities, including the super-liberal Class of ’74. Reagan delivered the Senate that cycle, too, but with a majority even more moderate than today’s GOP Senate minority. Yet Reagan was able to accomplish some great things his first two years in office.
The reason is simple. Even the squishiest RINO will follow a strong GOP leader rather than the Democrat. Moderation is always the easier path. Cooperation always looks better on camera. But a strong leader can overcome those obstacles — and even bring along a few stragglers from the other party. Sometimes more than a few.
Tomorrow’s leaders come from today’s lower ranks. One of the reasons the GOP field was so weak in 2008 and 2012 is that the ranks had been thinned due to poor leadership from George W Bush, naming a dead-ender (Dick Cheney) as his Veep and then earning deep voter distrust in Iraq. To compound the problem, Bush betrayed small government interests on several occasions, including the Patriot Act, Medicare Part D, and TARP — just to name a three. The resulting disgust kept a lot of conservative voters home over the next few cycles, and the party has yet to recover.
If the GOP is going to recover, it’s going to mean holding the House and taking the Senate, so that the party is in a strong position to oppose the White House.
From there, we can hope, principled leadership will emerge. (I’m looking at you, Rand Paul.) If not, we’ll get another two years like the last two years. Except they’ll be even worse, because Professor Wiggleroom will enjoy even more of his beloved “flexibility.”
Do I know that such a leader will emerge? No. Do I know that if he does, the rank and file will follow? I’m on firmer ground here, but still not entirely certain.
But I do know that absent the Senate, then nothing will change. We’ll get the occasional feel-good stunt like Ted Cruz’s filibuster… and that’s about it. Owning all of Capitol Hill is vital, and if that means voting for every RINO and squish — well, it’s not like it won’t be my first trip to the voting booth wearing a clothespin on my nose.
It’s going to be a long road back. But it starts with the Senate, and it starts now.