The Right Resistance: How much reason, compromise and tolerance will work for 2024 GOP candidates?
If you’ve been paying attention to the news lately you’ve likely seen a healthy number of stories about Democrats becoming more brazen in their opposition to senile president Joe Biden. Not against his disastrous policies, mind you, but his oft-repeated intention to run for reelection in 2024.
Democrat office holders closely monitor opinion polls and seemingly wouldn’t be caught dead within arm’s reach of their party leader and commander in chief, but they also appear to be okay with the direction that he’s set for this country. Perhaps their anxiety is due to Biden’s age, or because of the burgeoning criminal case against his wayward son Hunter, or it might even be because Dr. Jill Biden has exhibited an uncanny ability to put her foot in her mouth. Who knows, it could just as easily be that these skittish Dems are wary of Joe’s equally popularity challenged vice president, Kamala Harris.
When dissing on the prospect of another Biden candidacy, this emboldened and growing group of notable Democrats employ the most delicate of explanations for their turn against “The Big Guy”, often citing the early nature of the process or the need for new leadership up and down the ranks in Washington. They’re all quite careful in not saying outright something to the effect of, “That old goat can’t put two coherent sentences together and his multitude of public relations snafus will cost us congressional majorities in November.”
I’d love to read the minds of prominent Democrats today. Instead of giving blanket kudos to senile Joe’s administration like they do in public, they’d stifle their insults and treat Biden like he’s the victim of circumstances or what he “inherited” from the Trump team, which are all just poorly disguised attempts to pass the buck.
Even with Democrats now hogging the lion’s share of focus on 2024, there are some below-the-surface rumblings in the Republican Party as well. Former president Donald Trump continues to make headlines with his frequent campaign-style rallies and cursory hints that he’s hell bent on making a third try for the presidency. Tens of millions of American conservatives would welcome Trump 3.0, but those who aren’t as certain are making waves of their own.
In a piece titled, “It’s high time for Republican hopefuls to challenge Trump”, Peter Morici wrote at The Washington Times:
“Las Vegas bookmakers are offering good odds Republicans will win both the House and Senate, but after those victories, what can they do? Other than frustrating the confirmation of President Biden’s ‘woke’ judicial and administrative appointments, Republicans won’t be able to engineer a big impact on national policies before the next presidential election. Lacking veto-proof majorities, they need some Democrats to get things done, but House Democrats will be even more radicalized in opposition…
“Republicans need a national leader to step forward to articulate pragmatic solutions and win the battle of public opinion by campaigning for the presidency with specific ideas that occupy the middle ground.
“Former President Donald Trump could manage to get nominated, but the revelations of the Jan. 6 committee make it less likely he could get elected. He could hardly be expected to provide the diplomacy in Europe necessary to unite NATO, resolve the crisis in Ukraine or solve great social issues. It’s high time for Govs. Kristi Noem and Ron DeSantis, former Gov. Nikki Haley and several other qualified Republicans to challenge Mr. Trump — and the nation to embrace a new era of tolerance and reason.”
Morici’s bio lists him as, “an economist, emeritus business professor at the University of Maryland, and national columnist.” His above argument sounds very much like what comfortable and careful academians present in pursuit of sterile and sanitary solutions to very complex political problems like energy production, abortion, inflation and foreign relations with our traditional European NATO allies.
Of course, Morici states that the January 6 committee’s findings will damage Donald Trump to the extent that the national electorate will figuratively shoot itself in the foot by again choosing Joe Biden – or some other like-minded establishment Democrat – over the hot tempered but efficient 45th president. In the air-conditioned confines of a university classroom with students quietly sitting at their desks scribbling (or typing?) notes from the lecturer at the white board, something like Morici’s plea certainly makes sense.
But political reality is a completely different thing. And while Morici’s main point is well-taken and somewhat true, it would be extremely difficult to discover such a “middle ground tolerance and reason” leader from within the political system who could rock the nation to the degree that it needs to be rocked and still get anything done at the same time. After eight years of Barack Obama, Donald Trump was that person in 2016, and it’s arguable that the need for an outsider will be even stronger after four more trips ‘round the sun under senile Joe Biden in 2024. What is truly needed is a Republican with the political ideological grounding of Ronald Reagan, the temperament of George W. Bush and the willingness to scrap hard for everything that needs to be reformed – like Donald Trump. Whereas the Democrat party doesn’t lack leaders – there are a number of them, but they’re all either approaching 80 or passed the milestone long ago – the GOP contains many good policy thinkers but aren’t widely regarded as natural leaders.
Donald Trump wasn’t viewed as a cutting-edge policy man in 2016 as much as he was the type of steadfast leader who possessed the gumption to meet the Democrats on their own nasty turf and then pound them until there was no one left standing. “Tolerance and reason” weren’t his strong suits, but what part of salient issues like illegal immigration and street crime requires a middle ground?
Trump was no wallflower at a middle school dance. He didn’t wait for an ambitious suitor to approach him with a proposition. He was no John McCain either, namely a member of the ruling elite who earned his "Maverick” nickname not by bucking the prevailing winds, but instead by occasionally joining the other side to “get things done”.
A bad deal is still a bad deal, but not to the “middle ground” crowd who usually crow about accomplishments while ignoring the fact that the government has grown exponentially larger under their watch. A report came out last week that the federal government has bloated to nearly two million employees. Is this a desirable outcome to anyone but Democrats?
If anything, there’s been way too much “tolerance and reason” from establishment Republicans in the past few decades. How else would the political class treat annual trillion-dollar budget shortfalls as though they’re part of the natural order of doing business in the nation’s capital? Or what about the fact that millions of foreign invaders now enter the country through the southern border every year without so much as a batted eyelash from the ruling elites of both parties?
As Morici wrote in his piece, there are some issues where a “middle ground” should be reached, such as abortion. Polls consistently show that a majority of Americans still favor some legality for the procedure, but would also place reasonable restrictions on it, such as parental consent for minors seeking abortions or banning them after a certain point (as well as making exceptions for rape and incest).
A former colleague summed it up after a setback for the pro-life cause in Kansas last week:
“Pro-life candidates should avoid advocating the prohibition of ALL abortions, such as those pregnancies that resulted from rape. Rather, they can say, ‘Sure, let's all agree to prohibit abortions except to save the life of the mother and in cases of rape or incest. But my opponent will not agree to this, because he is not interested in allowing exceptions for rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother. He wants unlimited abortions on demand for any reason up to the moment of birth.’
“Pro-lifers must make their opponents defend their extreme position on abortion. Pro-life candidates must not allow themselves to be placed on the defensive by trying to defend what voters perceive as extreme positions…
“By the way, a law to prohibit abortions except for rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother would save the lives of the 99% of unborn babies who are now killed in abortion. Let's protect these 99% and we can go forward to protect the other 1% when the public is more fully educated on this issue.” (Hat tip, Art Kelly)
I think most conservatives would agree, saving 99 percent of unborn babies would spell victory for the pro-life cause. If there’s to be compromise, “half a loaf” or “tolerance and reason”, let it be in this direction. As far as the not-Trump Republicans jumping into the fray just because they aren’t as bombastic and controversial as the former White House occupant, that’s a debatable notion. There has been much excitement over Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis possibly making a ’24 run, not so much the others that Morici mentioned (Kristi Noem and Nikki Haley). Simply put, there are only a handful of Republicans who have the credibility and ability carry the MAGA cause forward, DeSantis being one of them.
I still believe Senator Rand Paul would make an excellent president. Is he charismatic enough? Or Senator Ted Cruz, who I supported in the 2016 primaries up until Trump had clearly beaten him. Could Cruz be nationally elected? There are serious doubts.
Finding a 2024 Republican candidate who can combine “tolerance and reason” and promote a middle-ground that would receive buy-in from Democrats is probably not doable. Conservatives need to win the argument on the major issues of the day, but it won’t be done through pretending like Democrats should be bargained with. Who is that leader? Time will tell.
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