What Next for the Republican Majority?

 

The 2014 midterm elections are behind us and the Republican Party has picked up more seats in the House of Representatives than they have held since 1946. They have also captured a majority in the Senate. The stage is now set for several confrontations. Central to this is the following scenario: The small neighborhood dog who always chases the local school bus somehow manages to catch it. Now he is faced with the question of what to do with it.

The Conservative or Tea Party base of the Republican Party was crucial in the election of several of the new Senators. Joni Ernst in Iowa, Cory Gardner in Colorado and David Perdue in Georgia are just three examples. It no doubt played a part in the election of the new House members. The so-called leadership in the Republican Party has generally treated conservatives and Tea Party types as pariahs ever since the Tea Party organizations burst on the scene in 2010. They have refused to work this base to achieve a more successful organization, largely, it seems, because these new conservatives have taken such a firm stance on such issues as limited government and individual liberty that the Republican old guard see them as a threat to the status quo of government power structures and resulting perks. It is, meanwhile, true that these groups do see present government trends as threatening to disenfranchise the American citizen in favor of an aristocratic oligarchy composed of politicians and moneyed interests.

Yet, the fact remains that electoral cooperation between traditional Republicans and the Conservative wing has brought about as close to a mandate as has been provided to that party in decades. It is time for them to find a strategy that will work to build a positive future, or the nation will continue on its headlong career over the cliff into despotism, albeit at a somewhat slower pace, but off the cliff nonetheless. Washington DC interests should understand the results of this election as an unqualified and unequivocal stop sign on the Obama and Co. agenda.

The problem that stands in the way of a potential sea change in US politics is simply the reaction of the old guard Republican “leadership” to the new majority. Mitch McConnell is correct when he says it is time for new leadership, but as the odds on favorite to become Senate Majority Leader, it will be up to him to lead. There are significant questions over whether he can and will do so. Similar criticisms have been leveled at House Speaker John Boehner. There has been a significant disagreement in the Conservative press with the apparent lack of interest in using the legislative control of spending power and the budget to rein in the out of control executive branch.

The first error, if one calls it that was the willingness of Boehner and McConnell to accept an invitation to lunch at the White House; a session in which they received mock congratulations followed by demands that they knuckle under to more executive demands including an unconstitutional executive amnesty for illegal aliens within the national borders.

A potentially useful response might have been to tell Obama that it was now his turn to meet at one of the legislative office buildings where a conference room could be set up with him at the end of a long table, surrounded by the people he would have to work with. Then it would be apropos to inform him that, since he had once stated that Republicans would “have to ride in the back,” it was now his turn to do so, and that the legislature was going to chart the course. If he didn’t follow along then he would soon find himself without funding … for anything. This is not a likely scenario. Boehner and McConnell are likely to be too scared of media pressure to take such steps. If they refuse to do so it may well call into doubt the possibility that Republicans or Conservatives will control the 2016 presidential race. After all, if there isn’t a dimes worth of difference in the outcome when you change the party running things, then why bother.

This is, in part, what happened to Mitt Romney in 2012. Appearing as a Republican centrist who would not make a difference turned off Conservative voters, several million of whom stayed home. If Boehner and McConnell sit on their hands for the next two years, as Boehner has since he became Speaker, a “Republican,” other than a recognized Tea Party activist such as Ted Cruz may face slim election chances. A Cruz type would have a tougher road in the primaries but might end up cruising in the general election as Governor Elect Abbot did recently in Texas.

 

There is one other thing that the Republican Establishment should consider, and Texas might well be the bellwether for future trend among Hispanic voters. Governor elect Greg Abbot and Lt. Governor elect Dan Patrick both captured a significant portion of the Hispanic vote in Texas by emphasizing three things. They were school choice, economic opportunity and a pro-life position. This was at the same time as they also promoted strong action to close the Mexican border. What they found was that these three traditionally conservative positions resonated well with the Latino population of Texas, many of whom do not like competition from illegals who undercut their pay. They are also concerned about the drug cartels obtaining more than the foothold that they have here, presently and the presence of other criminals who prey on them and their neighbors. They see border control as protection for themselves and a potential benefit for their new lives here as legal citizens. With this message these two strong conservatives scored above 45 percent with Hispanics, which helped to push their winning margins to the 20 percent range. This was unexpected and unprecedented.

Perhaps the Republicans should rethink their past stances and see what develops with these and other minority voters. They might also benefit from taking a more active position on conservative, civil liberty based populism, and throw traditional pandering out the window. They could do a lot worse than to stop using the failed strategies of the past and learn from experience. The question is, Will They?

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