News & Politics

Why Shouldn’t Pelosi Try to Strong-Arm the Republicans? It Has Worked for Decades.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., talks to reporters a day after officially postponing President Donald Trump's State of the Union address until the government is fully reopened, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

There has been a great deal of speculation as to why Nancy Pelosi was so anxious to rush her impeachment Schiff Show through Congress, but is now demanding that Mitch McConnell make the Senate’s process as unfair as hers was before she allows him to get the ball rolling. Many have even speculated that she is embarrassed by the whole thing and just wants it to go away before it completely kills the reelection hopes of too many Congressional Democrats. It is more probable, however, that she is demanding certainty that the Senate trial be “fair,” by which she means “viciously biased against the President,” because she knows that the Republicans are likely to give her everything she wants.

Pelosi has good reason to think that she can intimidate McConnell and other Senate Republican leaders into folding and transforming their impeachment proceedings into a Stalinist show trial that will suppress evidence exonerating the President, highlight the tendentious version of events that the House offered, and maybe even result in Trump’s removal from office. The Republicans have a pattern going back well over half a century of caving in to Democrat demands and doing their bidding. Pelosi has witnessed a great deal of this firsthand as she grew to be a multimillionaire on her modest Congresswoman’s salary. Why should she think it will be any different this time?

Republican kowtowing to Democrats goes back to the era of Franklin D. Roosevelt. After Democrats successfully blamed Republicans for the Great Depression and initiated the massive expansion of federal power that was the New Deal, the Republicans nominated for president not critics of Roosevelt’s big government measures, but me-too candidates who praised what FDR was doing: Alf Landon, Wendell Willkie, and Thomas E. Dewey. Not surprisingly, each of these pale copies of the great New Dealer were trounced by the real thing.

Republicans who didn’t think a huge increase of federal control over the daily lives of Americans was a terrific idea had their best chance in 1952, when Republicans won the trifecta of the White House, the Senate, and the House of Representatives for the first time since 1930. However, the new president, Dwight D. Eisenhower, would not hear of this. He declared: “Should any party attempt to abolish social security and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things….Their number is negligible and they are stupid.”

The Eisenhower administration backed up these harsh words with actions that would have pleased FDR. It expanded the Social Security program and supported a bill raising the hourly minimum wage from 75 cents ($7 today) to a dollar ($9.50 today). It tried, but failed, to get a bill passed requiring the federal government to underwrite private health insurance policies, which was the beginning of the long push for government control over the health care system.

Sixteen years later, Eisenhower’s protégé, Richard M. Nixon, became president. He succeeded Lyndon Johnson, whose Great Society and War on Poverty have cost American taxpayers trillions of dollars in failed urban development and welfare programs that have done little besides create a large group of people who are more or less permanently unemployed and wards of the state. And of course, they can always be relied on to vote Democratic.

Nixon did nothing to challenge any of this. And with the exception of Ronald Reagan, Republicans after Tricky Dick have been cut from the same cloth. Instead of challenging the Democrats, they allow them to set the agenda, and then maybe – maybe! – find some way to quibble over the details. They seldom if ever say that the latest government boondoggle shouldn’t be done; they only dare to suggest that they could do the job more efficiently.

Given that this has been the pattern for decades, why shouldn’t Pelosi think that the Republicans will behave as they always have up to now? It would be more surprising if they didn’t. Even now, Republican governors are clamoring for more refugees to be sent to their states, as if they didn’t already have enough Democrat voters. The Stupid Party is unlikely to miraculously find a spine in the Senate.

Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He is author of the New York Times bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book is The Palestinian Delusion: The Catastrophic History of the Middle East Peace Process. Follow him on Twitter here. Like him on Facebook here.