A Forum for Opinions on News, Politics, and Life
January 12th, 2013
By Dan Miller
Reelection of its incumbents and power of course, but what else matters? Anything?
An article by Scott Rasmussen published yesterday contends that
Just a few days after reaching [the fiscal cliff] agreement, an inside-the-Beltway publication reported another area of bipartisan agreement. Politico explained that while Washington Democrats have always viewed GOP voters as a problem, Washington Republicans “in many a post-election soul-searching session” have come to agree. More precisely, the article said the party’s Election 2012 failures have “brought forth one principal conclusion from establishment Republicans: They have a primary problem.”
As seen from the halls of power, the problem is that Republican voters think it’s OK to replace incumbent senators and congressman who don’t represent the views of their constituents. In 2012, for example, Republican voters in Indiana dumped longtime Sen. Richard Lugar in a primary battle. …
So, according to Politico, the Washington team is gearing up a new effort to protect incumbents and limit the ability of Republican voters to successfully challenge establishment candidates. (Emphasis added.)
That makes sense to those whose sole goal is winning a majority in Congress rather than changing the course of government policy. Seen from the outside, though, it sounds like the professional politicians are saying that the only way to win is to pick more candidates like the insiders. Hearing that message, the reaction of many Republican and conservative voters is, “Why bother?” (Emphasis added.)
That’s why more than two-thirds of Republican voters believe GOP officials in Washington have lost touch with the party’s base.
The Republican establishment has two choices. They can act as mature party leaders of a national political party, or they can protect their own self-interest.
There are good reasons for conservative voters to “bother.” If we don’t, who will? Party leaders won’t; they seem comfortable with things as they are. When the time comes to vote, most “honorable members” leave their consciences if not their brains outside and do as their party leaders tell them to. Those who reject party control can be stripped of committee assignments and otherwise disciplined. Hence, few reject party control.
Here’s another video. Relevant? Substitute “U.S. Senate” for “House of Peers” and it makes a bit of contextual sense. The Senate was, after all, modeled on the House of Peers as the House was modeled on the House of Commons.
Should the Senate emulate the House of Peers by doing nothing — and doing it very well? The Senate has been doing a lot of that. However, since no legislation can pass without approval by both houses, doing nothing can be good or bad depending on what one wants done. Doing nothing well — as in doing everything badly — is a bit different; both houses do much of that.
More seriously, the Republican Party is evidently trying to appear “moderate” to appeal to more voters and thereby ensure the reelection of its favored incumbents. That requires it to move ever leftward in tandem with the Democrat Party. Former House Speaker Pelosi seems to like their strategy.
When fiscal cliff legislation passed with mainly Democratic votes, Republicans griped, “Who’s the Speaker?” It was humiliating for the GOP majority to play the handmaiden to minority leader Nancy Pelosi. Asked if the lopsided vote makes her the de facto Speaker of the House, Pelosi demurred, coyly saying “not quite,” and reveling in her renewed clout. After the Democrats failed to regain control of the House in last year’s election, Pelosi appeared headed for a largely symbolic role as leader of the minority party in a chamber where the majority rules with an iron hand.
Republican infighting turned that assumption on its head with Pelosi suddenly looking stronger and more relevant than anybody anticipated, and not just because of Democratic votes that avoided the fiscal cliff. Unlike her counterpart on the Republican side, Pelosi is a leader with a firm lock on her caucus.
Does Speaker Boehner want President Obama to kiss him too? Sometimes it seems as though he does.
It can probably be arranged. For a price — if we are willing to pay it and if we fail to be as effective in purging librul Republicans as Speaker Boehner has been in purging conservative Republicans.
Does Speaker Boehner want the Republican Party to move further and further leftward in tandem with the Democrat Party? If so, a strategy of appealing to the largest and most diverse audience possible makes sense, just as it would if the party were peddling soap or breakfast cereal. That may be its marketing strategy, but if conservatives are to have a strong voice in Government it leaves us with little choice beyond going elsewhere.
What should be the Republican Party’s job?
As a minority party, its job should be to prevent the majority party from injuring America beyond restoration, using every lawful substantive and procedural ploy in its arsenal. That it can’t do so perfectly is no excuse for not trying or for backing off when it becomes inconvenient to continue. As a majority party (should that ever happen again) its job will be to rectify mistakes made by the previous majority party, to make as few more of them as possible and to move the nation bit by bit to the right. Is the Republican Party as presently constituted capable of doing that?
Beyond that, its most important job, whether in or out of power, is to demand rigorous adherence to the Constitution — the charter upon which our Federal Government was uniquely founded. It must do that not only when it is popular but also when it is unpopular. That’s one of the reasons why we have a Federal Republic, rather than a democracy based on popular vote — something modern technology has made it easy to have if we wanted it. We don’t and shouldn’t.
To the extent that the Constitution is diminished so is the nation. It was intentionally made very difficult to amend. It can be amended if necessary, but in no event should it be evaded, avoided, ignored or otherwise treated as optional. We have seen the results when that happens. Want an example?
Venezuela — a model democracy?
Anyone who hasn’t been paying attention to the situation in Venezuela might want to go here and read a dozen or so recent articles. Need more? Here’s an article I wrote in May of last year. Here’s another.
When el Presidente Chávez took office in 1999, he began only slowly to implement his “reforms.” To a casual observer, few changes were apparent in Venezuela between 1997 when my wife and I first arrived and late 2001 when we left, probably never to return. We had a few concerns about the future of the country under Chávez but they were low on our list of reasons not to buy land and build our home in the state of Merida, up in the Andes. Mainly, we wanted to continue sailing and Merida is inconveniently far from an ocean.
Chávez’ initiatives increased dramatically in number and in magnitude only when he was well into his seemingly endless terms in office. Maybe he had heard the story of the frog put into a pleasantly warm but slowly heating pot of water. The frog failed to realize until too late that he was being boiled for dinner. By then the frog had become unable to jump out of the pot.
Now in his second (and, one hopes, final term) President Obama has flexibility not dramatically less than did el Presidente Chávez once his power was well on the way to becoming firmly established. Perhaps the frogs are beginning to feel the heat; perhaps that will come later.
As Chávez steps into history, should Venezuela be our nation’s role model?
Where are we going?
Even leaving the Constitution aside, how many others like this are there now? Somebody has to be held accountable and pay. But gosh darn! Who should it be? As they and others in comparable circumstances continue to multiply, how many more will there be as their children mature sufficiently to reproduce and for little else? And reproduce. And reproduce. Here’s a longer version if anyone is interested.
How frequently is that pitiful scene repeated across the nation now? If spending on the welfare state continues to grow, how often will the scene be repeated over the next decade or two?
Personal responsibility? What’s that? Who should take care of her children and other consequences of personal irresponsibility funded by a “compassionate” Government at the expense of us all? Should we ask el Commandante Chávez? As long as his now uncertain ability to care for his people continues, support for him can remain a viable substitute for personal responsibility. Should we ask
El Commandante President Obama? He has many other important priorities.
Freedom cannot exist without personal responsibility. Illusions of freedom can but should be unacceptable.
An illusion of freedom can be seen as real no less than can a 3D motion picture; when the movie bad guy throws a knife into the audience, some may duck but even then they understand that the knife illusion can’t hurt them. In that sense, the knife illusion is preferable to a real knife. Most who prefer the illusion of freedom to actual freedom are probably aware of the differences between a real knife and the illusion of one in a 3D motion picture. Do they prefer an illusion of freedom to its reality because reality includes the freedom to fail — and to suffer the consequences — as well as the freedom to succeed? The illusion of freedom increasingly causes the consequences of failure to be imposed on others. Some probably like that. Others perhaps prefer the illusion without thinking; or maybe they enjoy the illusion that they are thinking about it.
Recognition of the possibility of failure is an impetus to do the work needed to succeed. The chances of success for those who do not recognize the possibility of failure — and hence the need to pay attention to what they have to do avoid it — are slim.
A “compassionate” Government seeks to prevent the failure of its favorites or at least to cushion their landings. The leadership of the Republican Party should realize that it is fully capable of failure and that, unlike Democrat Party supporters, the consequences of their failures are unlikely to be cushioned by a “compassionate” Democrat Government. If the Republican Party has not already failed its chances of doing so are high and increasing. If it does not take remedial action, starting now, the rest of us need to prepare for its demise by birthing its replacement. That kid had better mature and take responsibility fast, because if he doesn’t it will probably be too late.
(This article was also posted at Dan Miller’s Blog.)
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