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Outsiders vs. Insiders: GOPers won’t win in 2020 with the same dumb hacks leading the charge

What's worse than making a big mistake? Following it up with an even bigger mistake.

That’s apparently what House Republicans intend to do this week as they meet to fill the leadership void left by outgoing Speaker Paul Ryan. Ryan announced his impending departure months ago yet some intellectually-Congresschallenged brains in the GOP hierarchy thought it’d be best to allow him to serve out his term. While the rest of the country was scrapping furiously over the midterm elections Republicans stewed and sat on a matter that probably would have made a significant difference last Tuesday.

If Republicans had only elevated Ohio conservative Jim Jordan to lead the House faction it would’ve given the party base additional incentive to turn out and support Republican candidates. Instead the poohbahs folded their arms and did nothing and the GOP lost 30+ seats, furnishing Nancy Pelosi and her socialist-loving/Trump hating Democrats the majority.

As if this all weren’t bad enough Republicans seem poised to anoint the incompetent next-in-line to be their new chief. The problem? He’s kind of a loser. Susan Ferrechio of the Washington Examiner reported, “Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy won’t get to be House Speaker next year, but the California lawmaker is in a good position to defeat Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and capture the top GOP post of House minority leader…

“McCarthy is hoping to replace retiring House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and his path got easier on Election Day, when Democrats won back the majority. If Republicans stayed in the majority, McCarthy would have needed a majority of the whole House to be elected speaker. In that case, Jordan and his conservative faction could have withheld those votes, or traded them for assurances that McCarthy would pursue a more aggressive, conservative agenda.

“But as the minority party, McCarthy only needs to win a majority of House Republicans, which should be an easy feat.”

In other words, while Democrats duel with each other over whether to keep or dump near-octogenarian Pelosi as their superior GOPers will be rubber-stamping a leadership team (minus Ryan and Republican Conference chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who declared she’s not running again) that’s held power for years yet produced little to show for it.

While it’s true the Ryan-led House did pass a number of bills that died unacted upon by the bitterly partisan divided senate, the chamber’s true travesty was its miserable failure to accomplish anything on its own. Most notable was the petty back-and-forth over repealing Obamacare in the spring and summer of last year (2017) which established a regrettable precedent for backbiting, infighting and breakdown in the public’s eyes.

When Ryan couldn’t take his majority and push through a simple repeal – as he and all Republicans promised to do for years – it looked atrocious. Not only did the inertia allow Obamacare’s faulty infrastructure to remain in place, it also revealed Republicans weren’t close to enacting a ready-made plan to replace the big government monstrosity. Democrats and the media ripped them to shreds over the subject and it’s arguable the GOP’s House majority was in jeopardy from that point on.

Instead of taking generous advantage of the opening the leadership was handed – the chance to forge ahead with an ambitious conservative agenda that would’ve put Democrats on their defensive heels in both the House and Senate -- Republicans looked divided and incompetent. Pelosi and “Chucky” Schumer cackled and gloated about how Republicans could win elections but couldn’t “govern.” Liberal commentators made snide comments on every news broadcast. Saturday Night Live did skits. It wasn’t funny.

Add the fact polls showed 2018’s voters deemed healthcare a major concern (with everything else being so positive, they had to be worried about something, right?) and Republicans were digging their own electoral graves employing shovels with both hands. The media never handles such dilemmas fairly and it always seemed Ryan was more concerned with condemning the latest Trump tweet or quote rather than advocating for aggressive action to combat the nation’s lingering woes.

If House GOP leaders had gotten it together after the Obamacare fiasco the ineptness might’ve blown over and the public would’ve forgotten about how feeble they’d been those few months. But there were additional squabbles over budgetary items where Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell couldn’t reduce spending – again -- all-too-easily reneging on sacred oaths to the base to deal with the federal government’s deluge of red ink.

Included in the Trump-era budget capitulations was a near complete surrender on conservatives’ favorite priorities like defunding Planned Parenthood or appropriating funds for the president’s big beautiful border wall. Rather than placing these subjects at the front of the list, carefully selling them to the public and drumming up support for fiscal discipline, Ryan, McCarthy and crew tucked them away with nary a fight.

If Republicans truly believe, as they maintain, abortion is wrong and taxpayers shouldn’t be footing the bill for it why can’t they ever go to the mat and struggle to pull Planned Parenthood’s money? Granted Democrats swear the money goes for “women’s health” and demagogue the issue with other phony excuses – a little education as to the true nature of the situation could sway people’s minds (like how Planned Parenthood would sustain its abortion factories with donor money alone and the hundreds of millions of federal dollars aren’t essential if the leftist organization would just provide strictly non-abortion services).

Who makes the year-to-year decisions to disappoint conservatives and surrender without a battle on this? The buck stops at the Speaker’s/Minority Leader’s desk – and for Republicans it’s always occupied by a jelly spine establishmentarian like John Boehner or Paul Ryan.

And despite controlling the nation’s purse strings Ryan consistently sought Democrat votes to pass budgets by caving on liberal big government programs instead of promoting simple budget restraint measures like Senator Rand Paul’s “penny plan” or House conservatives’ (Freedom Caucus) various ideas on how to eliminate redundant, wasteful and unnecessary federal spending.

All the while Americans notice the fecklessness and wonder when Republican leaders will get it right? Time after time Ryan and crew squandered glaring opportunities for slicing the budget -- or ignored them. There was a friendly President Trump waiting at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue ready to help with the public relations side and offer his signature to whatever the leaders came up with too.

Talk about a no-brainer. The non-ideological, results-oriented chief executive tasked Congress with the responsibility of putting a package together. Republican leaders blew it. And now the same group is returning to power? What’s the definition of “insane” again?

Then there was perhaps Republicans’ largest misfeasance, the complete breakdown over immigration reform legislation. President Trump expended much political capital trying to bring the two parties together to pass a bill that addressed all four pillars of the immigration enigma. Trump even partially went back on a campaign promise (offering legalization for the “DREAMERS”) to demonstrate a willingness to compromise to get it done.

What did Ryan and McCarthy do? Instead of propelling the flawed (but best of the bunch) Goodlatte bill, GOP leaders put several proposals to a vote, none of which commanded a majority thanks to Democrats withholding their cooperation. If there’d only been an all-or-none Goodlatte approach it may have moved some “moderates” to support the legislation rather than providing an “out” for their indolence.

Many of those same wishy-washy “moderate” Republicans are no longer in Congress thanks to retirements or being defeated last Tuesday. If there was anything good coming from losing the House it’s the GOP caucus is now much more conservative and filled with members who truly want to combat the Democrats’ big spending ways.

As though it could get worse for the House, Senate Republicans fought hard and won a number of very visible skirmishes with intractable Democrats. Mitch McConnell looked like General Thomas Jonathan Jackson standing like a “stonewall” at Bull Run compared to Ryan and McCarthy. And leaving that impression ain’t easy after all McConnell’s wavering over the years.

It shouldn’t be forgotten McConnell only had a one-seat majority for half the term too.

Where do we go from here? Conservatives and Republicans will take a few weeks to settle on a plan. If McCarthy is indeed the new minority leader he’ll need folks to pay attention and hold his feet to the fire.

Meanwhile, the blame game continues over 2018’s losses. Contrary to the president’s assertions, supporting him wasn’t enough for some Republicans in tight races. Jack Hunter wrote at The American Conservative, “Yes, the GOP is undoubtedly Trump’s party at the moment, and a number of Republicans who have crossed the president have paid the price for doing so. Yet there were many Republicans in South Carolina who did not like that Sanford lost to Arrington in the primary. Most voted for Donald Trump against Hillary Clinton for president, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re dyed-in-the-wool MAGA acolytes, eager for the Trumpiest candidate in any race…

“The Trump phenomenon has unquestionably revolutionized the GOP and America’s political scene. But its adherents shouldn’t make the mistake of believing that Trump and Trump alone will dictate the future of U.S. politics, or even the future of the Republican Party...

“Donald Trump taught America an eye-opening lesson in 2016 about what elites think they can accomplish and control versus what voters actually want. Heading into 2020, Trump Republicans at all levels shouldn’t make the potentially fatal mistake of believing they know what a majority of voters want based just on what happened in 2016.”

Native South Carolinian Hunter used the Palmetto State’s 1st district as the focal point for his argument, which up until last Tuesday was safe in Republican hands for forty years. Earlier this year “The Lov Gov” Rep. Mark Sanford was defeated by an ardent Trump supporter (Katie Arrington) in the GOP primary. Hunter said it wasn’t a popular move among libertarian-leaning folks in the district (who apparently like Sanford) and ultimately led to Arrington’s defeat.

As usual Hunter makes a number of good points – support for Trump’s agenda alone won’t overcome individual candidate weaknesses or, as was the case in South Carolina 1, bad blood within the party. Savage intra-party primary fights do result in damaged general election contenders. The nastier the primary contest the more likely the ultimate winner will struggle with his or her own party voters because someone’s always turned off by them.

Democrats largely avoid the problem by automatically anointing incumbents…and they all pretty much have the same issue positions anyway. Republicans disagree over some topics and also the degree to which they’re prepared to risk political banishment to advance the cause, but the real difference is usually over support for the stodgy old ruling elites versus willingness to forge a new path…like Trump did. Support for Trump therefore equals anti-establishment.

The situation will only worsen as time goes on and conservatives slowly replace establishment leaders with folks who care more about satisfying voters than they do about pleasing the powers-that-be. Perhaps the process can start soon by electing new House GOP leaders. We’ll see.

Voters can’t be taken for granted, which is exactly what the left does. Radical feminists were alarmed that white women chose Republicans this year in several key races. But isn’t that unfairly judging by the group? Alexandra DeSanctis wrote at National Review, “Feminists insisted after [Brett Kavanaugh's] confirmation that ‘women will not forget,’ that women ‘see a little more clearly how much we don’t matter to the people in charge,’ that women’s rage ‘burns so brightly.’ White women who refused to conform to the anti-Kavanaugh frenzy of the moment were alternately disregarded or labeled gender traitors.

“In its sudden embrace of identity politics, the hardcore Left needs Americans to believe that feminism and progressivism are intertwined, and thus that every woman is intrinsically wired to embrace left-wing orthodoxy. The success of their political movement increasingly depends on it. As a result, when the existence of conservative women is revealed — as it was on election night — they dismiss our views and our votes as being the result of ignorance, malice, or insufficient independence from the sway of the misogynistic patriarchy.

“In doing so, the Left undercuts the definitional core of feminism itself: Women can be trusted to think for themselves.”

Therein lies the problem with race-based or gender-based politics. More women (of all races), African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians and religious folks (of all religions) reject the trends and vote for candidates like Trump who embody the struggle to drain the swamp.

The political war will rage on regardless of who Republicans choose to lead them in the next Congress. If they’re wise GOP House members will look to the recent past and discover their leaders haven’t aided their cause. New leaders would help them regain what they lost this year.

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