It’s hard to get people to agree on anything, but there’s one concept that most conservatives and Republicans can get behind: a GOP congressional majority would be a good thing if it happens after next year’s midterm elections.
Why? To start with, it will put a stop to at least part of the Biden administration’s disastrous constitution-trampling reign of terror. It also would likely end the political career of the heinous Nancy Pelosi and result in a stampede of Democrat retirements and resignations, leaving the legislative branch in the control of the good guys for years to come. This is a nice, warm and fuzzy thought that leaves many conservatives with a sugar-high type contentment, figuring the future is secure and history will suddenly reverse itself and America will regain its founders-era reverence for limited government and accountable leaders.
But not so fast. Without a concurrent shift in party leadership, a partisan switch to Republican rule won’t mean much, if anything. There’s a huge difference between a GOP majority and a conservative one. Put it this way, if the ocean tides reversed today and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy were immediately installed as Speaker, one group would still hold all the power.
The so-called “Moderates.”
Few have spoken out on this truth, but it’s stark reality to those who follow the internal dynamics of the congressional institution beyond head counts and the number of chairs placed on each side of the aisle. Republicans nearly match the Democrats in representatives, but that elusive aggressive, socialism stomping, freedom touting majority is still a long way away.
The always outspoken -- and right most of the time -- Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene pointed the finger at McCarthy and his lack of gumption to control the wishy-washies the other day. Luke Gentile reported over the weekend at The Washington Examiner:
“McCarthy has failed to protect Republican members, according to Greene. ’There's many of us that are very unhappy about the failure to hold Republicans accountable, while conservatives like me, Paul Gosar, and many others just constantly take the abuse by the Democrats,’ she alleged.
“McCarthy and weak leadership within the GOP have not only hurt strong conservatives but have enabled centrists, Greene said. Rep. John Katko, a New York Republican, is a prime example ... ‘Katko is not a Republican. He's a Democrat, and our conference, the NRCC, needs to stop playing this majority-maker game,’ she said.
“The majority-makers in the GOP reward centrists like Katko, who vote for President Joe Biden's ‘socialism legislation,’ impeachment, and Jan. 6 committee, Greene alleged. ‘They make them ranking members,’ she said. ‘They actually reward them, and they move them on the steering committee, where they're involved in all kinds of decision-making, all kinds of roles and leadership, but they're not actually Republicans.’”
Wow. Imagine the next caucus-wide meeting and the dirty looks Greene will receive from McCarthy, Katko and the rest of the small contingent of Trump-impeachment favoring, Biden “infrastructure” voting RINOs. Like the old Heart song “If looks could kill” warned, she’d (Greene) be “lying on the floor and begging to please, please, don’t hurt me no more.”
One hears Taylor Greene’s well-founded complaints and I detect a lot of head nodding out there in the political world. Republican leaders, perhaps since the tenure of the “majority maker”, Newt Gingrich, have earned a reputation for an inability (unwillingness?) to advance the conservative cause. Time after time and Speaker after Speaker the head GOP honcho on the House side (and let’s not forget the senate either, with Mitch McConnell at the forefront) caves to the “we must compromise” mantra of the “moderate” crowd.
Merlot guzzling, chain-smoking and always cryin’ John Boehner made a mockery of conservatives after the Tea Party rebellion election of 2010 by going back on the candidates’ promises to repeal every word of the awful Obamacare, despite going from a 257 (D) - 178 (R) deficit in 2009 to a 242 (R) - 193 (D) majority in 2011. Not so coincidentally, if the GOP retakes the House after next year’s midterms, the partisan balance will probably look similar (with a net gain of about 30 seats).
Boehner also failed miserably to push permanent budget reforms on Barack Obama and the Democrat leaders in the senate. Everyone with a smidgen of civics education knows Uncle Sam can’t spend a dime until the House gives its assent to the appropriation, yet Republicans ignored the urgent pleas of conservatives to make a stand and then count on the public to back common sense. There’s an awful lot of leverage in the majority and not every citizen is addicted to government checks.
Surveys showed the voters were concerned about ballooning deficits from the Iraq War and Bush era entitlement programs like Medicare Part D and “No Child Left Behind.”
Add in Obamacare and the former community organizer’s “shovel ready stimulus” boondoggle passed in the Big O’s first year and our “representatives” threw caution to the wind in enacting big government bills. If ever there was a golden opportunity to correct a bad trend and stick it to the Democrats at the same time, it was (starting in) 2011.
Yet it didn’t happen. A lot of conservatives, myself included, wondered why we bothered to work for Republican campaigns and elect GOP candidates when they simply morphed into swamp creatures upon raising their right hand and swearing to uphold the Constitution. What’s so difficult about keeping your campaign promises? Does “repeal” (as in Obamacare) have more than one meaning?
Conservatives rejoiced when Boehner stepped down in late 2015, but were heartily disappointed to learn Paul Ryan was to be elevated as the Ohioan’s replacement. No need to rehash the sad history here, but Ryan had been Mitt Romney’s running mate in 2012, and, once upon a time, was viewed as a fiscal hawk with new ideas on how to achieve balanced budgets and get control of government spending.
No such luck. Ryan merely perpetuated the establishment leanings of Boehner and consistently deployed the “we need a bigger majority” excuse for not getting things turned around. Ryan even went back on a promise to hem in legislation unless it could be passed with Republican votes alone. The “moderates” held midwestern-nice Paul by the puppet strings and wouldn’t let him dance until he “compromised” the party platform away.
The incoming Donald Trump had a back-and-forth relationship with Ryan as well, the establishmentarian House leader regularly criticizing the GOP presidential nominee in public and constantly backing away from supporting Trump with the media. Paul wasn’t exactly #NeverTrump, but he wasn’t far apart from the naysayers when frequently condemning the New Yorker’s statements and rhetoric.
Ryan was the type of guy who believed “civility” was more important than principles and results.
McCarthy took over when Ryan “retired” in early 2019. You may recall McCarthy made a host of promises to conservatives to gain the support of Rep. Jim Jordan and most members of the House Freedom Caucus. Republicans had lost control of the House after Ryan’s lukewarm run and Nancy Pelosi’s phony grinning mug was poised to grasp the Speaker’s gavel once again.
Like with Boehner -- and arguably now with McCarthy -- Ryan stepped away from defending conservative principles if it made himself look intolerant or extreme to the media, as though worrying about the Republicans’ 2018 midterm prospects did any good for the party. If only he’d publicly backed Trump’s Make America Great Again agenda, the end result might have been different. Standing for nothing rarely brings anything positive.
If you don’t believe it, look at Mitch McConnell.
But is Marjorie Taylor Greene correct in suggesting McCarthy won’t have the votes to replace Pelosi as Speaker in 2023 if Republicans win back the House? It’s hard to tell for sure. There are good arguments for and against McCarthy’s chances. Will he retain the support of Jim Jordan and the leaders of the Freedom Caucus? Will conservatives elect enough true believers at the district level to ensure that McCarthy won’t get to 218 (the number of “yes” votes needed to become Speaker)?
And perhaps most importantly, will de facto party leader (and probable 2024 Republican nominee if polls are to be believed) Donald Trump continue to support McCarthy? Trump was critical of the GOPers who voted for senile Joe Biden’s pork-laden, racial preference packed “infrastructure” bill, so who knows how long the former president’s patience will endure.
Taylor Greene was right. If you enable the moderates now, as McCarthy seems to be doing, you’re setting yourself up for failure in 2023 when Republicans supposedly will reassume the majority. A good many of the current “moderates” face primary challenges and here’s thinking at least a handful will lose to fire-breathing Trump agenda backers similar in style to the Georgia congresswoman.
McCarthy has choices to make, and, with the entirety of the American politics followers watching the train wreck that is the Biden administration, mere appearances of weakness will be enough to derail any Speaker ambitions the Californian might possess. If you want to find out where conservatives will be in 2023… check with Marjorie Taylor Greene.
Joe Biden economy
Democrat welfare bill
Build Back Better
13 House Republicans Infrastructure bill
Marjorie Taylor Green
2024 presidential election