Stupid doesn’t change, and neither do the ways of the GOP. Until and unless outside forces are brought to bear on the party, it will remain in its aimless, pale pastel state of motion, inexorably gliding toward the liberal position on any given issue.
On Wednesday, Republicans did what they do best: They doubled down on failure by re-electing the same leadership that brought them into the minority. Kevin McCarthy defeated Jim Jordan in a conference vote to be minority leader, 159-43. This reinforces my long-standing view that we have always been a minority of the majority; now will be a minority of the minority within the House.
The fact that McCarthy moved up the vote to before Thanksgiving to quell any organized opposition was all the more insidious when you consider the fact that about 10 races have not been called, yet all of the incumbent Republicans involved got a chance to vote even though most of them will lose.
However, on the bright side, conservatives have increased their numbers from the last time this happened. In 2006, after GOP leaders led their party to electoral disaster with the same strategy of a feeble agenda, Mike Pence challenged John Boehner for minority leader and only got 27 votes.
Accordingly, we clearly have a core mass of members to work with either within the Freedom Caucus or closely aligned with it. This is where the Freedom Caucus needs to step up to the plate and divorce itself from the failed GOP branding that is devoid of messaging and toxic with many voters. It’s time for the group to announce a new contract with taxpayers and consumers and a bold new vision that will define its members in a way that is distinct both from the GOP establishment and from President Trump.
The HFC members certainly don’t need to butt heads with the president, and indeed, most of the agenda should easily overlap with his campaign promises (although not necessarily with what some in the administration Swamp are actually doing), but they should distinguish their own brand. It’s time to define what it means to be patriotic, constitutional conservatives and how to apply our timeless principles to today’s challenges. Also, let’s not forget that Trump will not be around forever and that the loss of conservative identity, drive, and agenda did not stem from Trump, but was a problem long before he got to D.C. If anything, he’s restored the commitment to certain tenets, or at least given lip service to them. To the extent he has been lacking on some policy issues, it’s because he gives in too much to the GOP establishment Swamp, not because he’s fighting it.
There are several important reasons for the Freedom Caucus members to establish their own branding and unique bold agenda:
The Freedom Caucus needs its own messaging and policy arm and needs to work on filling the void of the conservative movement. The HFC needs to use its voices not only on legislative issues, but to shadowbox the runaway judiciary and raise concerns about those in the Trump administration who are undermining the president’s original promises.
This new platform should speak to the disenfranchised Americans who have seen government leave them in the lurch for health care because of the monopolies government created for the insurance and hospital cartels. It should speak to the disenfranchised Americans whose voices have been drowned out by courts that unilaterally rewrite our Constitution and grant citizen rights to illegal aliens. It should speak to the taxpayers who now will see more of their money spent on interest on the debt than on the military within a few years.
The Freedom Caucus is the only organized infrastructure with a high profile and a concentration of conservatism. Here’s the grim reality confronting us all if they fail to take this to the next level: Let’s say we achieve the short-term dream of winning back the House and re-electing Trump in 2020. What is to stop the second term from being a repeat of 2016-2018, with a subversive GOP leadership in Congress and liberals within the administration nullifying Trump’s election promises? The problem we have now is not just that the Swamp is defeating conservatives on almost every policy and personnel decision. It’s that we don’t even get on the playing field and use our platforms to expose these issues and give our allies support while giving voters a vision of what we will do for them. Much of conservative media will continue to be preoccupied by the daily soap opera that never rests, while the Swamp robs us blind on all the discernable policy outcomes.
Conservatives are busy making fun of leftist stalwarts recently elected, like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Instead, we should be taking notes. She is demanding that her socialist agenda be implemented immediately and is willing to pick fights with the already progressive Democrat Party over it. Where is our Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez?
When speaking with swing voters, even those who are suspicious of the president, I’ve heard positive vibes about the Freedom Caucus. It has already achieved some degree of prominence. Now is the time to break away from the sinking ship and promote its own agenda. It’s time for Freedom Caucus members to evacuate from the D.C. swamp, which absolutely includes GOP leadership, “lest you perish in the iniquity of the city.”
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.