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Outsiders vs. Insiders: Ruling elites view 2018 as a disaster, conservatives see glass half-full

Now that the dust has settled after last week’s federal midterm elections it’s safe to say most political observers saw the results in a glass half-full manner. Democrats were happy pre-vote polls were prescient and they wrested the House majority away from the GOP establishment, something they’d boasted about doing since President Donald Trump was elected two years ago.

Victory is sweet but revenge is sweeter. Can you imagine the truckloads of crow Democrats would’ve choked Trump Join Togetherdown if they’d failed to win back the lower chamber after all of Trump’s supposedly bad behavior? It would’ve been hideous!

Meanwhile, Republicans were giddy that GOP candidates knocked off Democrat senate incumbents in several red states and increased their majority in the upper chamber (it appears to be by two seats), a new reality that should make it easier to confirm Trump administration nominees and judicial appointments.

By extension Republicans also “held” their advantage on the federal judiciary as Trump won’t need to worry about sending solid conservatives to Capitol Hill for confirmation any longer. Thanks to former Democrat Majority Leader Harry Reid’s move to end the filibuster for lower court nominees in 2013 and current Leader Mitch McConnell’s nuking of it in 2017, a simple majority is all that’s required to end debate and vote to confirm.

McConnell will sleep better knowing he doesn’t always need RINO Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s permission to pass through originalist jurists to the federal bench now.

The GOP House caucus also became much more conservative last week, virtually overnight. Americans’ culling of the so-called “moderate” RINO herd means the remaining Republicans in the House (looks to be over 200 strong) will be higher-quality liberty-loving limited-government fighters instead of members of the go-along-to-get-along ruling class crowd.

Hard as it is to fathom, some conservatives almost look forward to a GOP House minority. Stephen Moore wrote at National Review, “The midterms were the equivalent of an NFL preseason game. All that matters for the future direction of the country and breaking the back (figuratively) of the far left is 2020 and getting Trump reelected. Given the results on Tuesday, his odds of reelection have gone up — fairly considerably.

“I have been arguing for months that the next two years would be gridlocked on legislation no matter who ran the House. GOP control of the House in that environment would have been a political curse, not a blessing for Trump. The lack of legislative progress with a GOP majority in the House would only have deflated conservatives. More important, if anything were to go wrong with the roaring economy and Republicans held the House, they would be beaten mercilessly by voters in 2020. Who else would there be to blame?

“Now, with House Republicans banished to the back benches, they can and I predict will start acting like real fiscal conservatives and vote against the giant spending bills that Pelosi will want to send their way.”

It’s a shame it took squandering a very winnable set of races for Republicans to learn a lesson, but if Moore’s correct the GOP ship will right itself and steam back in the proper direction ahead of the 2020 presidential election.

For those still ruing the loss of the House you should consider how hard it would’ve been to advance the Trump agenda, fend off the no-holds-barred attacks from the left and the media and execute a flawless 2020 presidential campaign while attempting to hold majorities in Congress -- do all this and still convince the change-hungry (but information challenged) public to stay the course for at least another two/four years.

It's not what conservatives want to hear these days but chances are, absent scandal, the new Republican Speaker would have been Kevin McCarthy, with Steve Scalise advancing to the Majority Leader’s post. McCarthy would be awful as the minority leader now but he would’ve been truly dreadful as the entire house leader. The guy can barely put two coherent sentences together much less articulate a vision for the country that’s dramatic to inspire and politically palatable enough to sell to voters.

At least as a House minority conservative Republicans like Jim Jordan and the other Freedom Caucus members will earn more prominence opposing the leftward lurch of the Pelosi-led Democrat majority. Just imagine when Democrats propose Medicare-for-all, which they’re certain to do – not because it’ll actually become law (it would need to pass through the Senate and have Trump sign it, right?) but to fire up the party’s socialist base for the 2020 race.

As they always do, Democrats will demagogue the healthcare issue to death, first blaming Republicans for unanimously opposing whatever they propose and then whine about how conservatives are obstructing “progress.” Along the way the new House majority will insist Republicans are racists, bigots, sexists, Islamophobes, homophobes, etc… who just want to please big business interests and don’t care about helping poor people go see a doctor.

Unlike the feckless Republican establishment Speaker Nancy Pelosi will use her majority to the fullest extent possible. In their new capacities Democrats like Maxine Waters will go after banks and investment houses, Adam “Shifty” Schiff will subpoena Trump advisors Roger Stone, Corey Lewandowski, Omarosa Manigault, Hope Hicks, Kellyanne Conway and Stephen Miller – and everyone else related to the 2016 presidential campaign – in search of any possible connection to Russia.

The media will relentlessly peck at Trump and his team, questioning every policy move (his side of it at least) and blame him for anything that goes afoul. The next terrorist attack involving firearms or mass shooting will resurrect the gun control issue, House Democrats will pass an “emergency” measure to “save the children” from the evils of guns and party leaders will demonize Republicans when the bill dies in the senate or on Trump’s desk.

Maybe because of it Democrats will resurrect their calls for impeachment but Pelosi won’t let the idea advance; perhaps she’ll bow to her caucus’s radical demands and allow a vote that won’t get far. A full-blown impeachment trial would go nowhere in the senate and look horrible for a party that needs to win back at least some of its old coalition to win the presidency in 2020.

Pelosi understands this…so does “Chucky” Schumer, though no one’s paying attention to him anymore after the Kavanaugh confirmation disaster.

But clearly the “best” part about Republicans assuming a House minority position is it frees them to oppose the inevitable bloated Democrat budget. Whenever Republicans have a majority, establishment leaders start thinking like Democrats, passing big government programs like “No Child Left Behind” and Medicare part D, probably assuming they’ll buy loyalty and votes like the “evil party” does and move into permanent majority status.

This approach turns off conservative voters and undermines the GOP’s reason for being, namely to instill some semblance of fiscal discipline on the political class and prevent Democrats from completely stamping out traditional values in favor of the LBGTQ agenda.

As a minority (with a Senate majority), it seems House Republicans actually grow a backbone and force Democrats to go to excesses to accomplish their sinister aims. One speculates it’ll be this way again starting in January.

Thankfully there were other positive signs from last week’s election for the GOP, this time at the state level. Jay Cost reported at National Review, “Total Democratic control is mostly confined to strongly Democratic states on the coasts. Most of the North Atlantic is under total Democratic control, and so is the Pacific Coast. Illinois and New Mexico, two other strong Democratic redoubts on the presidential level, are in the party’s control. But most of the swing states are under split or Republican control. The only exceptions are Colorado and Nevada, and the GOP has not won a presidential race in either state since 2004.

“The implication of this is that while the Democrats filled in some of the holes dug during the Barack Obama administration, they are still lagging behind their peak, in 2009. It is highly doubtful they will ever come back all the way; the events of the last decade have probably been the death knell for some state Democratic majorities. Democrats, for instance, controlled the state legislatures in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and West Virginia prior to the 2010 midterm. Those majorities are probably not coming back, barring some unexpected voter realignment.

“Another reason for continued Republican strength is the solid record of victories in Florida, Georgia, Iowa, and Ohio. Despite the persistent unpopularity of President Donald Trump, and strong Democratic challenges, the GOP maintained control of these state governments.”

Cost was careful to point out midterm elections aren’t necessarily predictive of what will happen in the ensuing presidential election. For example, after the Tea Party midterm wave election of 2010 Republicans made significant gains at the state level yet Barack Obama still won a second term two years later.

Democrats also took several important governorships this year, perhaps most notably defeating two-term incumbent Scott Walker in Wisconsin, a loss that definitely stings for conservatives considering all the conflicts Walker survived and victories he fostered that had national implications earlier this decade. The Badger State Republican all-but single-handedly led the war against public employee unions in 2011, an issue that had nationwide reverberations and positive effects on many a state’s budget.

Walker proved a conservative Republican approach could succeed politically in taking back ground leftist forces seized over the decades. Walker’s triumphs were substantive for his state but symbolic to others being held hostage by public unions with powerful lobbying interests and congressional Democrats in their back pockets.

It should also be noted Republicans still hold majorities in both the Wisconsin Assembly and state Senate, so it wasn’t a complete loss for the GOP there.

Cost’s article additionally mentioned Republicans still hold full party control (governor, House and Senate) in 23 states with 14 enjoying partial control. This will be important ahead of the 2020 election and redistricting based on the 2020 census. With Trump running at the top of the ticket – and remaining popular with Republicans in red states – the GOP enters the campaign season with hopes of retaking some of the electoral territory lost this year.

There certainly is no reason for conservatives to hang their heads. All things considered the GOP did fairly well this year under difficult electoral circumstances – an infuriated half of the electorate, a media that’s in the tank for Democrats and providing gobs of free “advertisements” for their candidates along with a feckless House Republican leadership that blew the chances of dozens of GOP hopefuls.

Conservative groups did well too. Club for Growth president David McIntosh wrote at National Review, “This November, the Club for Growth PAC spent and bundled nearly $30 million for conservative Senate and House races. We helped fund the Senate races of Josh Hawley (Missouri), Marsha Blackburn (Tennessee), Rick Scott (Florida), Ted Cruz (Texas), and Matt Rosendale (Montana). We supported the House races of Van Taylor (TX-03), Ron Wright (TX-06), Chip Roy (TX-21), Michael Cloud (TX-27), Mark Green (TN-06), Mark Harris (NC-09), Ted Budd (NC-13), Denver Riggleman (VA-05), Steve Chabot (OH-01), and Dave Brat (VA-07).

“Most of these races were pitched battles against Democrats. Nine of them were key races that would determine whether the establishment Republican House would keep its majority. The Club for Growth PAC contributed substantially to three Senate pickups and won seven of those nine contested Republican House seats. That makes us the most successful Republican political organization that spent money in this election…

“RINOs will fail either because they force the GOP to repeatedly break faith with its conservative base and forsake campaign promises, or because they insist that there be no Republican agenda at all, which then relinquishes the messaging advantage to Democrats. Such was their fate last Tuesday.”

So much for the notion principled conservative candidates can’t compete with goody-providing Democrats or wishy-washy Republicans. Organizations like the Club for Growth do extensive research on potential office-seekers to support, and when you see a Republican with their endorsement you know they’re the real deal. The GOP establishment (RINOs in this case) resents the Club’s involvement in primaries because panic is always the ruling class’s first reaction to shelter their own and shield the status quo.

Limited government conservatives seek to drain the swamp – RINOs want to dwell in it… permanently. RINOs took a bath in last week’s elections… conservatives added to their numbers. Now who’s successful?

Realistically speaking no one’s celebrating last week’s loss of the House to the Democrats. When it comes to future elections nothing is certain. Conservatives must play the hand they were dealt -- and all things considered, it could’ve been worse. Will Republicans act on their chances?

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