Republican Party

Sorry, Washington Republicans, but it’s absolutely acceptable to criticize candidates who want grow the federal government

Voters are often told that conservatives should not challenge Washington-backed big government Republicans, because doing so could lead to Republican defeat. Yet it often seems that Washington Republicans don’t follow their own advice. It prompts the question, when does the Washington class really view it as appropriate to criticize Republican candidates?

Mississippi is one example. Washington Republicans asked Democratic voters to support their candidate, Sen. Thad Cochran, in his primary election. This was a violation of Mississippi law, so conservative state Sen. Chris McDaniel is challenging the result.

This prompted Ann Coulter to write that Chris McDaniel was a “sore loser” whose supporters “don’t care that they’re gambling with a Republican majority in the Senate.”

This is not the first time Ann Coulter has complained about conservatives from the South or other locations around Middle America. Last October, she complained that conservatives in Minnesota had not done enough to help Sen. Norm Coleman win re-election against Sen. Al Franken, writing, “The inability to distinguish Coleman and McConnell… from Obamacare-ratifying Democrats is…insane.”

Americans are tired of war: Old Guard Republicans attacking Rand Paul show how truly out of touch they are

Power structures and ideological dynamics change quickly in Washington, and when a sea change happens you almost feel sorry for the losing side, who usually doesn’t realize it for a while, still clinging to their anachronistic worldview and thinking it’s mainstream. But there comes a time when you just have to point and laugh at people who have lost, and lost big, and don’t even realize it.

Politico has a new summary of all the defense hawk attacks on Rand Paul’s alleged “isolationism,” including Rick Perry, Dick Cheney, Elliott Abrams from the Council on Foreign Relations, and Mackenzie Eaglen from the American Enterprise Institute. In denouncing the freshman Senator’s skepticism of interventionism, they cite the current situation in Iraq, Afghanistan, and of course 9/11.

Yes, “it’s been a long time since 9/11,” as Cheney said, lamenting what he sees as forgetfulness about the threat of terrorism, but also, it’s been a long time since 9/11. At a certain point you have to stop buttressing your entire foreign policy narrative with the biggest failure of our national intelligence and defense systems since Pearl Harbor. We haven’t reverted to a pre-9/11 mindset, we’ve evolved to a post-post-9/11 mindset. The world has changed, again; global interventionists haven’t.

Perhaps sadder still than their reliance on the 9/11 shibboleth is the delusion that hawks are still the mainstream of public opinion or even the Republican Party:

#IAmUnitedLiberty: Matthew Hurtt’s fight to advance liberty within the GOP

Matthew Hurtt, I Am United Liberty

Note: This is the first in a series of profiles of UL contributors and how they became involved in the “liberty movement.” Share your story on Twitter using the hashtag #IAmUnitedLiberty.

This was actually much harder to write than I imagined.

The goal of this profile and the others we’re going to showcase on UL this week is to show readers the different ways we’ve all gotten involved in the fight for liberty. Everyone comes to this movement with different experiences, from different backgrounds, and with different goals.

Some want to win elections; some want to change the GOP; some want to educate.

I remember always having “weird” political views. Growing up in a conservative Southern Baptist church, I remember being confronted about my opposition to the Iraq War in the early 2000s. I remember voting against the marriage amendment in the 2006 elections in Tennessee. But I didn’t know what the philosophy was.

Two things helped me realize that I am a libertarian.

I ran for local office at age 19 in 2006. While on the campaign trail, a man named Clarence Jaeger gave me a copy of Frederic Bastiat’s The Law, an essay on the role of government. Clarence has since passed away, but I will always be grateful for his gift. It allowed me to define my beliefs as to what I thought the size and scope of government should be.

Make DC Listen: Don’t let John Boehner and Eric Cantor forget that voters want Obamacare repealed

The GOP is backing away from using the phrase “repeal and replace” when it comes to Obamacare. It’s a strategic decision, that may or may not be really useful, though.

The primary problem with the terminology currently used apparently is that “repeal” implies that Republicans want to go back to the pre-Obamacare status quo. In light of the massive problems — radical price increases, dropped policies, broken promises about keeping doctors, etc. — maybe that isn’t really a terrible thing.

However, giving the party leadership the benefit of the doubt, they could be right about not suggesting a return of the bad old days.

The real problem with the whole “repeal and replace” narrative isn’t completely about the first part. In order to suggest that there will be a replacement, the party would need to come up with one. Yes, there have been many options presented, but they have all gotten lost in the shuffle, since a majority of Republicans have never really picked a single choice.

That might be because they’ve all been making it far too complicated, just like the hated Obamacare. It remains to be seen if the GOP can marshal the political troops behind something simplistic - even taking the generally acceptable parts of Obamacare for their new solution.

Maybe if they chose to campaign on keeping the broken promises of Obamacare, allowing kids to remain on parents’ policies until age 26, and no refusals of insurance based on pre-existing conditions, for a start. Add on the idea of removing the “minimum coverage requirements”, and mandatory coverage for all, since those are the two primary issues that are annoying voters.

Rand Paul has already won: Republicans are rethinking foreign policy

Conservatism seems to be appealing again, thanks in no small part to the “get off my lawn establishment politician!” flavor of the increasingly-difficult-to-ignore libertarian wing of the big tent. And it’s not difficult to understand why. When a policy push advocates, generally, for a less intrusive government regarding taxation and electronic spying and nanny state moralizing, free people tend to sit up and take notice.

But there’s one area critics of libertarianism have at least a marginally sturdy leg to stand on: foreign policy/national defense. And it’s not because libertarians don’t care about these issues; rather, it’s that there hasn’t been a unified voice concerning these issues from a group that is fairly consistent on most other major policy ideas, making criticism an easy task.

In short, libertarians, as vocal a group on politics as any you’re likely to meet, shy away en masse from making definitive statements about foreign policy. But there may be some very good — and surmountable — reasons for that. One of them is an exhaustion with the interventionist philosophy of neocons, one many libertarians feel has kept the US in expensive and bloody wars and conflicts in different parts of the world for far too long. And it’s a philosophy that, oddly, continues still.

No one is suggesting it’s not an utter tragedy what happened to those Nigerian schoolgirls. But is it a conflict we should be involving ourselves in? And why? Those questions have yet to be answered or — frankly — even posed.

Yes, Rand Paul is the future of the GOP

Over at the American Spectator, Reid Smith and Jamie Weinstein (so much for that “I before E” rule, right?), debate whether Rand Paul is the future of the Republican Party.

Smith takes the pro-Paul position in his part, “A New Age of Liberty,” in which he touts the libertarian scion’s innovative tactics and positions and success in just three years in the Senate. Weinstein takes the anti-Paul side, under the head “GOP Less Libertarian Thank You Think,” using more concrete examples, but making less sense doing it.

Weinstein’s main point against Rand Paul is ideological, and no surprise, focuses on the area where he differs most sharply with  party leadership: foreign policy. He argues that while Paul turned heads with his drone filibuster and then helped defeat the authorization of force in Syria resolution, the Syria result was an exception, and the continued support for military action against Iranian nuclear capability is the rule. Paul didn’t tilt the party more isolationist, Weinstein claims, people just didn’t like the options in Syria. While a convincing argument, we have another data point now with which we can test this theory: Ukraine.

Followingly less than a year after the Syria debate, 56% of Americans say we should “not get too involved” in Russia’s annexation of Ukraine either. And while 67% of Republicans disapprove of President Obama’s handling of the situation so far, 50% say it’s important we don’t get involved.

Why Republicans should follow Rand Paul’s lead

The Republican Party seems poised for a successful mid-term election. There has even been talk of a building “Republican wave,” should voter dissatisfaction intensify and solidify, though its far too early to say for sure what will happen.

But if a “Republican wave” does indeed happen this fall and the party takes control of the Senate, a goal that has proved to be out of reach in the past two cycles, GOP leaders and talking heads should be cautious in overstating what it means.

Yes, President Barack Obama is plagued by low approval ratings and rejection of Obamacare, his signature domestic achievement. Voters aren’t too thrilled about the state of the economy or his handling of foreign policy.

But Republicans must realize that electoral success this doesn’t mean that voters have embraced the party, as polls almost universally show. In a two-party system at a time of malaise, the party not in control is the beneficiary of voter anger. This was true in 2006 when Democrats won control of Congress. It was true in 2010 when Republicans gained 63 seats on their way to winning the House of Representatives.

There is no denying that the Republican Party has a very real messaging problem, and party leaders realize it. That’s why the Republican National Committee released a report, The Growth and Opportunity Project, to try to figure out what went wrong in the 2012 election as well as try to find solutions to expand its reach.

Though that “autopsy,” so to speak, raised some excellent points, it alienated many of the grassroots activists that compromise part of the Republican base.

Why GOP needs to remake their image

The Republican Party has an image problem.  Really, anyone who follows politics knows it.  Years upon years of corporatist policies has lead to people who really believe things like this quote that was in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

“I hadn’t paid attention to the race, but I’m voting the Democratic ticket,” said Bryan Dabruzzi, a 43-year-old from Atlanta who is finishing a degree in nuclear engineering. “I’m not rich, so I can’t vote Republican.”

Now, Dabruzzi is probably a pretty bright guy.  After all, I’m not even close to finishing a degree in nuclear engineering.  At 43 years old, he’s also not likely to be some kid who just doesn’t know any better.  No, most likely, this is an opinion based on years of observation.  For what it’s worth, this quote was made in reference to a governor’s race here in Georgia.

It’s easy to discount Dabruzzi’s quote as someone who, while maybe not unintelligent, just doesn’t understand politics.  However, one would think that a member of Forbes staff might look at things a bit different.  One would be wrong though, according to John Tamny:

Having lost an eminently winnable presidential election to a failed president in Obama, the Republicans are a Party desperately seeking a message, image, and probably both.

GOP, crony allies plan efforts to undermine conservatives

The Wall Street Journal ran a story on Christmas which explained in detail how Republican leaders and the United States Chamber of Commerce are looking to diminish the influence of conservatives both in and outside of Congress. This gives us a glimpse at the latest battle, if you will, in the ongoing Republican civil war.

You may remember that Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) lashed out at conservative groups that opposed the budget deal brokered by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI). It turns out, though unsurprisingly, that this public admonition of conservatives was just scratched the surface. It turns out, as the Journal explained, that Republican leaders were threatening members with loss of committee assignments if they voted against the budget deal:

Mr. Boehner’s deputies took steps behind the scenes to end internal dissent, including among GOP committee chairmen who had voted against the House leadership in prior fiscal battles. In the run-up to the budget vote, Mr. Boehner’s deputies warned chairmen who were tempted to oppose the deal that doing so could jeopardize their committee posts, said people familiar with the discussions.

The goal was to reverse a trend in which chairmen, who typically earn their post by hewing to the party line, voted against priority legislation. Six chairmen had voted against an initial version of a farm bill earlier in the year, causing the legislation to collapse on the House floor, and 11 voted against the pact this fall to reopen the federal government and extend the country’s borrowing authority into 2014.

Mitch McConnell and the “Republican brand”

TL;DR: Mitch McConnell feels threatened by principled conservatives and feels that they’re ruining the “Republican brand” by challenging him and other establishment Republicans. But really, the “Republican brand” is in shambles, and it’s time to re-define that brand to return to small-government principles.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) isn’t a happy camper these days. He’s locked in both a contentious primary and general election fight, losing rule battles against his Democratic counterpart, and has to contend with some members of his own party who are constantly willing to stand on principle, rather than the party line.

“The ‘Republican brand’ was severely damaged several years ago. That was largely due to dissatisfaction with President George W. Bush, an unpopular war, and corruption in Congress.”

The rise of the Tea Party movement and conservative organizations have created havoc for McConnell and Republican leadership in the chamber, who enjoyed mostly distant rumblings from the political right in the past. But over the last few months, there has been a tiff between the Kentucky Republican and the Senate Conservatives Fund (SCF) that has now boiled over into the public.

 


The views and opinions expressed by individual authors are not necessarily those of other authors, advertisers, developers or editors at United Liberty.