Frustration From the Fringe: 'Cuckservative'?
To say that a significant part of the Republican base is upset with the antics of the Republican leadership in Congress is an understatement; some of the congressmen themselves are on the verge of revolt. Senator Ted Cruz’s differences with Senate leadership have been the subject of national news for some time now, and recently Congressman Mark Meadows of North Carolina filed a motion to wrest the House leadership from John Boehner because of his perceived shortcomings.
Normally, my own sense of pragmatism intervenes when these circular Republican firing squads form. Politics, I remind myself, is the art of the possible. Compromise is the nature of our legislative branch, and the difference between any Republican -- who still helps count toward the majority which allows Republicans to control the agenda in either House -- is likely to be better than any Democrat at the national level in the present circumstances.
But some recent polling figures suggest that the dichotomy between the conservative base and rather less conservative leadership of both houses of Congress is far more deep-seated and real than any clash of egos, and there is also some evidence that it is giving rise to some very disturbing developments on the fringe of our party.
First, the numbers:
A recent Pew Research poll released July 22, 2015, includes this gem:
The current survey finds that favorable views of the GOP among Republicans have declined 18 percentage points since January, from 86% to 68%. Independents also view the Republican Party less favorably, 29% today compared with 37% six months ago.
The only likely reason for this decline, of course, is the marked failure of either house of Congress to deal with any of the substantive issues on which the 2014 “wave” election was based. ObamaCare has not been defunded. Government spending has not in the least been reined in; the border remains as open as ever; and the utter train-wreck of Obama’s foreign policy -- culminating in the end-run around Congress made possible by the Corker-Cardin bill which guaranteed the lifting of sanctions on Iran -- continues unabated.
A lot of people are wondering whether regaining Republican control of the Senate counts for much under the circumstances, and the fact that a lot of people are thoroughly incensed at the lack of effort to drive a more conservative agenda – or at the very least to present President Obama with bills which he will have to sign or veto -- is probably to blame for the meteoric rise of Donald Trump in the polls over the last month, against all normal political logic.
Indeed, Rasmussen reports that as many as 36% of likely Republican voters have signaled that they would vote for Trump as a third-party candidate, which would guarantee a Democratic victory.
In short, a lot of the Republican base is steamed, and reduced to frustrated rage. In any political system, such pressure builds and finds outlets, often in unlikely and unsavory ways.
One such is the use of the ugly coinage “cuckservative,” apparently a contraction of the phrase “cuckolded conservative,” as Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos recenrtly observed. Talk-show host and blogger Erick Erickson has taken serious exception to Yiannopoulos’ claim that the term is a “glorious insult” on the grounds that those using it tend to be both racist and anti-Christian. Not being a Christian, I’ll leave the theological implications of the argument to Mr. Erickson, but it is plain from a number of recent examples that Erickson’s claim of racism, to which I’ll add anti-Semitism, is very convincing.
First in the dock is a checklist put out by one of the term's proponents, which begins with a jab at supporters of Israel, then proceeds to an anti-free-trade, pro-protectionism stance. The next couple of points suggest that Republican outreach to black voters is misplaced (and intimates “other reasons” besides rapacious unions and decades of Democratic misrule for Detroit’s problems). Other points take jabs at Hispanics, corporations, military veterans (who somehow don’t deserve respect because they may differ politically with the “approved” stance) and so on: to say that according to this checklist I qualify as a “cuckservative” is probably beyond question.