“You can almost see the circuits blowing.” — Neil Peart, in Far Cry
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when it started, but with Speaker John Boehner’s resignation announcement, there’s no doubt the revolution has begun. Perhaps it was the first time you bookmarked the Drudge Report. Or maybe, when at the Drudge Report, you said: “Who is this Breitbart?” Eric Cantor’s primary loss to Dave Brat was certainly a moment when the revolution was stirring and produced tangible results rather than just internet narrative.
Regardless of when the revolution started, it’s clearly underway.
First, what do I mean by revolution? Like with all revolutions, the old ways are being replaced. But this revolution has a twist: the revolution is trying to replace the old ways of doing business with even older, and more timeless ways. Namely, this revolution is a revolution against centralized power.
It could be that this revolution really started two centuries ago. Perhaps it never stopped. We were warned about the price of eternal vigilance, weren’t we?
There was a time when the Republican Party stood as the bulwark against centralized power, against Washington, D.C., eroding personal space. When both houses of Congress were held by President Obama’s party, the Republican Party stood as the most well-placed institution to oppose his agenda.
Things were bad. But if only we had the House! That was the rallying cry from fundraisers, politicians in the minority, and their consultants. So the revolution delivered the House in 2010. But things didn’t seem to change. Obama consolidated his gains and entrenched. There was no consequence.
If only we had the Senate! That was the new rallying cry from the fundraisers, politicians in the House majority, politicians in the Senate minority, and their consultants.
So the revolution delivered the Senate in 2014. Again, things didn’t seem to change. Instead of opposing Obama with every constitutional tool available, yes including the power of the purse, the new leadership failed to return the favor that the revolution bestowed on them in 2010 and 2014.
Instead of the speaker of the House rolling back Obama’s counter-American revolution, Boehner gained a golf buddy. (And yes, that’s precisely what Obama represents — a retreat from American ideals two centuries old. But more on that another day.)
The revolution is bad news for a number of Republican figures. Jeb Bush might top the list.
Jeb’s presidential campaign seems like a political sitcom from Antenna TV — the cable network with the rabbit-ears logo that plays shows from a kinder, gentler time, decades ago. That was before the progressive left marched through federal institutions and turned them against mainstream America. Jeb’s campaign is suited for another time.
The revolution was also very bad for Eric Cantor and others who seem to feel more at home appearing on the pages of the New York Times than in conservative media.
One of the favorite canards used against the revolution is: “What would you have us do, shut down the government?!” Fear of a government shutdown is to Republican leaders inside the Beltway what fear of witches was in colonial New England. But the Planned Parenthood videos changed everything, and rendered GOP fear of a shutdown a morally bankrupt position. The revolution isn’t happy.
Let’s recap: Conservative guerrilla journalists captured real, unedited, and unambiguous video showing a federally funded organization engaged in behavior as gruesome and morally bankrupt as anything that occurred in the 20th century. If there is anything worth shutting down the government for, it is federal tax dollars going to Planned Parenthood.
Force Obama to defend what we saw on video. He’d lose. If he didn’t back down, he’d be backed into a corner filled with radical feminists and abortion worshipers. The GOP wins when it pushes Obama into such an extremist corner.
In other words, the revolution created all the briefing materials, videos, and talking points for GOP leadership to score a tremendous victory and simultaneously stop the flow of tax dollars to a barbaric and wicked organization.
Instead, the Washington GOP establishment demoralized their base and surrendered without a fight. Everybody knows they have no courage to fight. If there was ever something worth fighting over, it was those dystopian videos.
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal had the courage to fight. Faced with Planned Parenthood advocates protesting at the governor’s mansion, he turned the building into a giant theater screen and showed video of Planned Parenthood’s vivisection dishes and body parts marketing.
The opposition in Baton Rouge fled — they couldn’t stand the images. Too bad the GOP leadership in Washington didn’t recognize a favorable field of battle like Jindal did.
People outside of Washington, D.C., have a hard time appreciating the culture of the Beltway. The revolution is directed at this culture, but it isn’t well understood. The revolution sends people to Washington, and they get wobbly. And it’s not just confined to fiscal issues — notice how Justice David Souter went native once he got on the Court.
Let’s get one thing straight. Fixing Washington requires someone who understands Washington. I’ve been inside the bureaucracies and know how the entrenched bureaucrats can hoodwink even the most zealous overseer. Utilizing someone who understands their language and has tangled with them will be the only way to make progress. It takes an outsider who understands the language and tricks. Not all outsiders need apply.
So what’s up next for the revolution? Some accounts say Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is on deck. One thing seems likely: the revolution will play a central role in picking the next Republican nominee. The establishment GOP needs the revolution far more than the revolution needs the establishment GOP.
While Democrats might enjoy the intra-party bloodletting, the institutional left might have even more to fear: as they say, these people don’t play around. They are coming after you next.
The revolutionaries place themselves in the pedigree of Americans who accept risk because of the ideas at stake. They aren’t sunshine patriots. They love America and fear for it in ways that the comfortable class in Washington doesn’t seem to appreciate. All of this might sound silly to some, but go ask John Boehner what he’ll be doing next.