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Outsiders vs. Insiders: Pundits pontificate on election odds but voters decide from the booth

As we inch ever closer to Election Day Republicans received a bit of a shock/reality check from “Mr. GOP” Newt Gingrich last Thursday.

While the fake bomb story dominated news headlines and preoccupied the short attention spans of liberal pundits everywhere the former Speaker suggested the odds aren’t great for Republicans to retain control of the Donald TrumpHouse in the next Congress. Ian Schwartz of Real Clear Politics reported, “Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich at a 'Washington Post' event on Thursday:

“NEWT GINGRICH: I would say, first of all, Nancy Pelosi is a very smart, very tough person who has earned her position by just brute hard work, by applying her intelligence and by applying a network that has sustained her for a long time.

“Anybody who thinks they’re going to outmaneuver her is up against somebody who has spent literally her lifetime… she’s been in this business forever.

“Who's going to get up and say she doesn’t have any right to be Speaker? So my guess is if they win, then she’ll be Speaker.”

Schwartz’s blurb contains the video excerpt where Gingrich expands his thoughts on the upcoming leadership battle in the people’s House. If anyone would, Gingrich knows how internal politics functions in Congress and he believes the liberal California congresswoman -- with all the behind-the-scenes work she’s put in and money she’s raised and proliferated like fleas in a plague infested warehouse -- will have more than enough support to carry her to victory. Newt brought up a valid point – who do Democrats have who could beat her?

For sure there will be a handful of Democrats who oppose Pelosi outright, but they won’t be organized and powerful enough to combat her with a likely narrow party majority at work. Doing the math, Gingrich puts Republican Kevin McCarthy’s chances of replacing outgoing Speaker Paul Ryan at 1/3, but with the internal divisions in the GOP caucus now there’s no guarantee of that result either.

Needless to say with conservative stalwart Congressman Jim Jordan openly seeking the GOP’s top leadership post he’ll command a healthy number of conservatives in the Republican caucus. With many of the party’s wishy-washy “moderates” either retiring or likely being drowned out by a blue “ripple” (or whatever you want to call it), the GOP could easily offer the most conservative mix of House members ever next term.

Which sets up an inevitable clash between Pelosi’s ultra-liberal get-Trump-at-all-costs Democrats versus conservative House Republicans who’re spoiling for a much bloodier fight than ever was advanced by Merlot-soaked, chain-smoking John Boehner or everyman nice guy -- but establishment wimpy -- Paul Ryan. Because he’s viewed as the probable next-in-line, McCarthy would seem to have a leg-up on Jordan (or whoever else ends up running for the GOP post) but his victory is far from a foregone conclusion.

Meanwhile, having run for president and maintained a regular commenting class presence (among other things) Gingrich still is considered a Republican leader twenty years after he exited Congress. While his opinion is respected here – and he’s no doubt privy to polling information the “average” person wouldn’t have access to – Gingrich’s 2/3 – 1/3 partisan odds-making is just that – a guess. There’s still a week remaining until ballots are cast and counted and here’s thinking both parties will expend maximum energy to influence tight contests.

It does appear neither party will enjoy a significant majority next year which will make for an interesting dynamic, perhaps one more akin to what takes place in the senate where perceived “moderates” carry outsized power simply because they’re the only ones up for sale whenever there’s a close vote.

All Democrats are liberals now so it wouldn’t be taxing for Pelosi to corral near or complete unanimity for pretty much anything she asks for. If she single-handedly strong-armed her caucus to pass the highly controversial Obamacare in 2010, Pelosi should find it much easier getting her troops to march in lockstep next time around. House Democrats are way more radical and liberal these days – and they’ll have a common rallying point like never before.

Sure, Democrats still love big government and showering goodies on their voters, but what really gets them fanatical is pestering and opposing President Donald Trump. Simply put, whatever obstruction tactics or delaying actions necessary to derail the president Democrats will deploy. Gingrich is right – Pelosi is extremely smart and capable of gumming up the machinery of the executive branch, which will happen if the pundits are correct and Democrats win the House.

If only Republicans had a unifying party figure such as Gingrich today they’d be a shoe-in to win this year. As time goes on Gingrich’s achievements only look more impressive, primarily his ability to nationalize elections centered around proposals like his 10-plank “Contract With America.” Many still marvel at what the man from Georgia did in 1994, though liberals revile him and accuse him of being responsible for the poor state of political discourse today.

David French wrote at National Review, “There’s no question that Newt Gingrich was an important figure, but he was an inevitable important figure. If Gingrich hadn’t ended Democratic dominance of the House, someone else would have. There were tensions in the Democratic coalition that could not be avoided. The Democratic hammerlock on the House was out of step with the composition of the American electorate. The tidal forces of cultural conflicts launched decades before were going to tear apart Congress in the same way they’d torn apart campuses and caused conflict at kitchen tables.

“So, no, Gingrich didn’t break American politics. But he did help break a progressive monopoly on the House, which the GOP has controlled 20 of the 24 years since. And given the aggression and incivility they overlook on their own side, it’s clear that for many commentators on the left, ending Democratic dominance is Gingrich’s truly enduring sin.”

In case you’ve forgotten Gingrich’s “contract” included specific legislative proposals to introduce on day one if Republicans regained the House majority for the first time in 40 years. In 1994 voters therefore entered the booth knowing exactly what they’d get, a similar feeling to the one two years ago upon choosing Trump over Hillary Clinton.

Most people figured Trump would have difficulty delivering everything he promised – and he has – though most felt comfortable with the notion he’d give it his best shot. Through decades of familiarity with the billionaire celebrity, Americans recognized Trump was a different kind of leader, a non-politician who wasn’t saddled with years of milking the system to achieve results.

Candidate Trump didn’t offer many details on how he’d realize his host of campaign promises, though such minutiae don’t mean much in practice anyway. Take foreign policy for example; every four years presidential hopefuls brag about how they’d do things differently/better in the international realm, but until they actually sit down with the Vladimir Putins and Theresa Mays no one can say for sure what they’d do. Politicians who claim otherwise are liars, but that kind of thing comes naturally to longtime swamp dwellers.

Trump was different from the rest. Trump always comingled with world leaders but from a business standpoint – the global politicians all wanted something from him (like development dollars) so they lobbied him for favors, not the other way around. For this reason, Trump wasn’t starry-eyed about the prospect of schmoozing prime ministers, premiers and monarchs because he'd always been more like an equal to them.

Of course Gingrich was a longtime politician in 1994 but he was outside the Democrat ruling class establishment and offered something voters wanted (poll-proven popular measures) and a chance to check an administration (the Clintons) that had overreached and was wholly corrupt. Unlike today’s Democrats, Gingrich and his new Republican majority actually came pre-packaged with legislation that would get things started and keep it going.

In contrast, what do Democrats offer today? You’ve got Pelosi and “Chucky” Schumer sniveling about how evil Trump is and how Republicans intend to hurt old people and sick citizens. Would Democrats take over Congress on day one knowing what they’d do (other than impeach Trump)? Hardly. Democrats would be so preoccupied with who’d steer the leadership boat they’d ignore the leaky keel threatening to sink it.

In other words, Americans who vote Democrat next week choose obstruction and inertia over forward motion and improvements in the economy and culture. In effect, Antifa and the rioting leftist goons who threaten conservative college campus speakers will have prevailed. It’s a shame.

One thing’s for sure, conservative evangelical voters will turn out in droves to prevent such a result. Family Research Council president Tony Perkins wrote last week at Real Clear Politics, “[W]hile President Trump and his team have delivered on many promises to people of faith at home and abroad, I believe the ongoing attacks against religious liberty and the faithful will motivate voters in the midterms.

“In the first annual Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom, Vice President Mike Pence addressed representatives of more than 80 nations on religious discrimination worldwide, explaining why it is important to defend religious freedom. Pence said: ‘The right to believe or not believe is the most fundamental of freedoms.  When religious liberty is denied or destroyed, we know that other freedoms — freedom of speech, of press, assembly, and even democratic institutions themselves — are imperiled.’

“He’s right. In defense of religious freedom, people of faith will pray, vote and stand for founding principles in the midterms because elections are one of the few places left where our voices can’t be silenced. We can do all three in the ballot box.”

Those decrying the left’s assault on religious liberty will be just one of many motivated groups this year but they’ll be arguably the most united and (hopefully) effective. There’s nothing quite like being told your beliefs don’t match the politically correct notions of the liberal elites to inspire a person to make change.

In his piece Perkins pointed out that 20 million SAGE Cons (Spiritually Active Governmentally Engaged Conservatives) voted in 2016 and 94 percent went for Trump. Did these folks vote for the thrice married, self-confessed former playboy (whose coarse language would make a drunken sailor on leave blush) because he represents their morality? Heck no! But these religiously observant folks realized Trump would appoint Supreme Court justices who’d protect their rights and also defend them against the left’s never-ending onslaught.

Trump fulfilled his promises by choosing now justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh to serve on the Supreme Court. One need only imagine if Hillary Clinton were the one signing the appointment papers instead of Trump – what leftist ends-oriented ideologues would be on the Court now?

The prospect is frightening… more so even than ghouls and goblins on Halloween.

Religious liberty valuing Americans have no choice but to vote in this election and pick Republicans who will combat the left’s drive to irrevocably alter culture and dismantle traditions that don’t need to be messed with. As Perkins wrote, there’s nothing more fundamental than the right to believe – a concept that’s not hard to comprehend.

Trump’s Supreme Court picks are paying off in other ways too. While the political world rages around them the justices are enjoying a rather tranquil environment these days. Melissa Quinn reported at The Washington Examiner, “Supreme Court justices are signaling that everyone is getting along just fine in the new term despite Justice Brett Kavanaugh's brutal and partisan confirmation battle, and are calling for others to open themselves up to different points of view.

“’We make progress by listening to each other, and by listening to each other across every kind of divide, divides of ideology, of methodology or in the case of political institutions, politics,’ Justice Elena Kagan said during an event at Georgetown University’s law school Wednesday. ‘Echo chambers are pretty boring places.’

“Just down the road, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg offered similar advice Wednesday while speaking at the federal courthouse in the nation’s capital. ‘As long as we live and listen, we can learn,’ Ginsburg said, when asked whether she thinks her fellow justices are open to persuasion.”

It’s great the justices all respect each other now but make no mistake, there’s still plenty of partisanship on the Court, especially among the liberal members. Ginsburg herself has offered several opinions on Trump and stated she’d like to stay on the Court for at least five more years (and hence, avoid another Trump appointment).

Should a Democrat knock off Trump in 2020 here’s thinking she’d reconsider. Rapidly.

Both sides’ advocates will use the remaining days before next week’s elections to make their cases on which party will ultimately control the House. Opinions are worth what you pay for them – but voters determine the results. Conservatives are on fire this year; will good things happen?

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