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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
Remember those commercials featuring a classroom full of Chinese students, listening to a lecture about the fall of the United States of America? As of this latest agreement on a “not-really-a-debt-ceiling,” we are headed in that direction. Don’t be alarmed, of course. It will all work out in the end. We really do need all the things that the government is doing with all that money that we’re borrowing from anyone around the world that is foolish enough to keep investing in us.
The concept of Obama spending more in one day that George W. Bush did in an entire year was brought to my attention today on Facebook by Dr. James S. Robbins. The context was that he was bemoaning the fact that he could no longer make the comparison between a month of Obama spending, and a full year of Bush deficit spending. Obama had reached the one day mark.
True, that’s the fault of some interesting accounting procedures that the government uses to deal with what used to be debt ceilings. This particular radical increase was the result of repaying various governmental accounts that have been tapped since May, in an attempt to not hit the debt ceiling. The increase put the national debt over $17 trillion for the first time in United States history ($17,075,590,107,963.57, to be exact).
Back in March, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) propelled himself to the forefront of Republican politics when he led an inspiring 13-hour filibuster against the confirmation of CIA nominee John Brennan.
For the entirety of his procedural protest, Paul and several of his colleagues, most notably Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Mike Lee (R-UT), highlighted the constitutional problems with President Barack Obama’s drones policy, which is largely consistent with the views of his hawkish predecessor and many of today’s conservatives. Paul would go onto win the CPAC straw poll the following week and has been a frequent voice of opposition to the Washington political establishment on foreign policy.
The reaction from the Old Guard Republicans was expected. Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and John McCain (R-AZ) both sided with President Obama on drones and foreign policy and admonished Paul from the Senate floor with the latter referring to his colleague from Kentucky a “wacko bird.” Bill Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard, called Paul’s foreign policy views “dangerous” and tried to label him as an “neo-isolationist.” Jennifer Rubin, the Washington Post’s token Republican, has also taken shots at Paul on foreign policy, though with little effect.
The rise of the so-called “liberty movement,” which sprang out of the early days of Ron Paul’s 2008 presidential campaign, and of the tea party movement, which was a reaction to the one-party Democrat rule in Washington after the 2008 elections (with Obama’s victory being the likely spark) has forced the Republican Party to wrestle with warring factions in an attempt to establish a winning coalition.
Those in the media love to paint the GOP’s internal struggle as evidence of a party in the throes of extinction; as a party out-of-touch with mainstream America. But I think the “growing pains” the GOP are experiencing could potentially strengthen the Republican Party.
I am of the opinion that we have two political parties in our first-past-the-post electoral system. Few candidates have won major office in recent history under the banner of any party other than the Republican or Democrat parties. There are exceptions, but they’re rare, and those candidates usually win because of their personality, rather than a set of ideals on which a party platform could be constructed. Think Maine’s Angus King or Connecticut’s Joe Lieberman.
It is with that understanding that many within the “liberty movement” in Virginia have begun working within the Republican Party to move it in a more (small-L) libertarian direction. Our reasoning is that political parties do not hold a certain philosophy; they are vessels through which their members advance a set of ideas and beliefs. As the GOP looks for a path forward, it should look to the way the Republican Party of Virginia (RPV) has embraced liberty activists.
After RNC Chairman Reince Priebus unveiled the Republican Party’s Growth and Opportunity Project last month, conservatives were hopeful this marked a fundamental change in the direction of the party. The 100-page document’s emphasis on engaging the grassroots and broadening party appeal seemed to indicate GOP leaders were looking to make amends with their base. Less than a month later however, the RNC renounced these claims and once again revealed the greatest hindrance to the GOP’s success: the party itself.
Many Republicans were aghast to witness the blatant political theater that took place last year during the Republican National Convention. Not only were controversial rules changes ushered in by Romney supporters and the establishment but video was released shortly thereafter revealing that the votes were rigged.
As an attempt to quell the growing animosity among grassroots conservatives, the RNC launched the Growth and Opportunity Project and offered to further discuss the rules changes at the RNC’s Spring Meeting.
Initially, it was believed the RNC was sincere in their efforts to overturn the recent powergrabs that rendered delegates nothing more than pawns being used in a chess match that had long been decided without them. As FreedomWorks New Media Director Kristina Ribali noted however, this was hardly the case:
This week, the Republican National Committee (RNC) will hold its spring meeting in Los Angeles in what could be a defining moment for the party. Many committee members are looking to overturn rules that were adopted at last year’s Republican National Convention which disenfranchised many grassroots delegates.
Back in August, Dean Clancy of FreedomWorks explained the rule changes at length, noting the profound affect they have on the process by “shift[ing] power from the state parties and the grassroots to the RNC and the GOP presidential nominee.”
There were two specific changes — Rule 12 and Rule 16 — pushed by Ben Ginsberg at the behest of Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign.
Rule 12 allowed the RNC to change its rules at any time or any place in between party conventions. Clancy called this move “unprecedented,” and explained that the change gives the RNC the ability to completely ignore the convention on a whim, if it so chooses.
Rule 16 is also problematic because it targets delegates who vote their conscience in convention. For example, if somone ran as a delegate and pledged to vote for Mitt Romney, but then finds out something unsavory about him and they switched to another candidate; they would have been stripped of their delegate status.
While there may be states that require delegates to vote a certain way, they’re typically not bound to a particular presidential candidate. This rule change was clearly aimed at Ron Paul supporters and conservative activists skeptical of Romney’s record — forcing them to choose party over principle — and it help gives GOP insiders more leverage at picking the nominee.