Liberals have the Democrat Party, Establishment Republicans have the GOP, and conservatives have no party that represents them in Washington.
So when Ted Cruz and Mike Lee pushed to defund Obamacare, grassroots conservatives embraced the idea. Most of them did so knowing full well that getting Obama to defund the Affordable Care Act was the longest of longshots. However, they also knew that there were, and are, plenty of other opportunities to be grasped.
That has certainly turned out to be so.
Obama has been telling the world he won’t negotiate while he punitively shuts down national parks, kicks old people out of their homes, and blocks off veterans from memorials. Conservatives are energized by the fight. All Democrats in the Senate have now gone on record as being in favor of Obamacare, saying it doesn’t need to be delayed and saying that they deserve an exemption from Obamacare that the rest of the public doesn’t get.
If this isn’t a winnable fight for the Republican Party, you have to wonder what a winnable fight would look like? If Obama publicly sacrificed a baby to Satan on Ted Kennedy’s birthday, would the public believe that the GOP was waging a war on children after listening to John Boehner and Mitch McConnell for 10 minutes?
Moreover, the one heavily skewed Wall Street poll that’s freaking squishy Republicans out isn’t telling the whole story. Barack Obama’s approval rating has dropped to 37% and his approval rate with independents is down to 16%. Barack Obama is the face of the Democrat Party and those are the kind of numbers that lead to political bloodbaths while dislike for Congress has sadly become the rule, not the exception. Moreover, there are still great opportunities to be had. How about funding the entire government, but insisting on removing the exemption for members of Congress and their staffs? Let the Democrats tell the world that they’re willing to shut down the government to make sure that the American public supplements the cost of their Obamacare coverage. That’s a very winnable fight, but sadly, you have to suspect that a lot of Republicans would rather lose the political fight than lose the exemption they’re getting from the law. They might vote for it when they know the Democrats won’t agree, but actually winning on the issue? They’d prefer a half-hearted loss than a go for the throat win.
But instead, after some smart early maneuvers from the House, the GOP leadership team there has largely fallen silent. Meanwhile, Republicans in the Senate have been actively working with the Democrats to undermine the House. In addition, establishment mediocrities like John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Haley Barbour, Devin Nunes, Grover Norquist, John Sununu, Bob Corker and the loathsome Peter King have been fighting tooth and nail against their real enemy: grassroots champions like Ted Cruz who actually want to stand up for conservatives instead of corporations, fatcat donors, and country club Republicans.
The problem with the Republican Party isn’t politicians like Ted Cruz and Mike Lee who actually believe in representing the people who sent them to D.C.; it’s the establishment Republicans who fight harder against conservatives than they’ll fight against the Democrats along with a GOP “leadership” that can’t talk, strategize, or do much of anything except flounder around haplessly while they get their brains beaten in by the Democrats.
It’s all well and good to say, “The most important thing is to win more seats and then we’ll fight later.” The problem with that is we’ve already gone down that road during the Bush years and we found that the same people who don’t want to fight now, didn’t want to fight when we had the House, the Senate, and the White House either. In fact, a big part of the reason why the GOP lost the House, the Senate, and the White House was because Medicare Part D and more funding for the National Endowment for the Arts was its idea of what the GOP should be doing when it was in charge.
People hate the Republican Party right now — and they should. It doesn’t communicate well, it doesn’t do much outreach to groups that don’t vote for us, it doesn’t stand up for the values it supposedly believes in, it betrays its supporters on a regular basis, and although it claims to be the adult party of small government, reduced spending, and law and order, it doesn’t consistently stand up for those principles even in the minority. Liberals never have to question where the Democrats are on abortion, raising taxes, or expanding government; so why should we never know if we can count on the GOP on gun control, illegal immigration, and spending?
The road to recovery for the Republican Party starts with proving that it will fight aggressively for the principles it claims to believe in as opposed to being talking big and never backing it up. Ted Cruz and Mike Lee get that. If more Republicans in D.C. understood that, the GOP wouldn’t have lost the last presidential election because a few million members of its base stayed home.