The GOP convention is quickly becoming a perfect microcosm of the same dichotomy on display daily in Washington. When operating outside of a consequential decision, Republicans engage in effective and conservative messaging, but when the policies or procedures to implement those ideas are actually in play, they are completely off message and sabotaging themselves. Conservatives are given their sand box to play in, but the traditional powers at be will continue to call the shots.
The contrast between the afternoon session and the evening session of the RNC could not have been more different. Much of the night session actually contained solid messaging. The theme of law and order as it relates to the trifecta of domestic crime, immigration, and national security was effectively distilled by popular figures among conservatives. These included Sheriff David Clarke, the survivors of Benghazi, victims of illegal immigration, and some great patriot advocates for our military like retired Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell and Karen Vaughn, mother of a SEAL Team 6 member killed in the still mystifying shoot down of Extortion 17. It’s long overdue for Republicans to lead their messaging with such patriots along the theme of law and order and it was refreshing to finally see these patriots get a platform.
Even the traditional moderate politicians who spoke at night were suddenly quite feisty and politically incorrect. Rudy Giuliani, who had always been a member of the globalist, open borders wing of the party, fired up the crowd with an indictment of Hillary Clinton and a call to place the safety and security of America first. Although he couldn’t resist a reference to “sexual orientation,” a throwback to his New York values. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas. (F, 58%), Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, rigorously assailed the Democrats for refusing to mention Islamic terrorism. Never mind that McCaul has used the committee to service the Muslim Brotherhood agenda and has even praised CAIR for being a moderate weapon against terrorism. He was a born-again border hawk last night, but his border bill almost served as a vehicle for amnesty and actually weakened existing law.
And therein lies the problem. Nothing is new here. As someone involved in both the legislative and electoral sides of politics, I’ve always seen the dichotomy whereby Republicans use our messaging and even empower some conservatives during the elections, but when it comes down to the mechanics of actually implementing those ideas the establishment retains all of the power and buries the grassroots. Conservatives are allowed to speak on the House and Senate floor and have their pro forma messaging vehicles and panels, but the ultimate governance is tightly controlled by those who will have no part in actualizing the conservative agenda. Likewise, moderate Republicans always sounds like our guys when they are on the campaign trail before entering Congress and never missing an opportunity to miss an opportunity.
The power vs. messaging symbolism of the party was evident when contrasting the night session to the afternoon session. As we reported at CR, the entire afternoon session, during which the actual rules of the party were adopted, was presided over by RINOs, such as Haley Barbour, Gov. Mary Fallin, and Rep. Steve Womack, R-Ark. (F, 34%). Together with the same establishment hacks within the RNC structure, they violated their own rules and used Putin-style tactics to silence the grassroots in reforming the primary system for future elections to ensure that the winner is not always the moderate candidate most promoted by the media.
Thus, the RNC had no problem showcasing good patriots and messaging against illegal immigration during the campaign speeches. Even the banal politicians joined in with the rhetoric. But when it came to actual policy and procedure, it is clear who is still boss, just like when it comes to pushing actual policy in Congress – the campaign rhetoric and party platform go out the window. As Giuliani demonstrated last night, every Republican is willing to rip Democrats on the Iran deal … except they won’t get rid of it, despite recent revelations that private agreements voided out the terms of the deal and the entire premise of the deal was based on a lie of Benghazi proportions.
The Republican Party has always been a conservative party during elections or when the specific issue was not in play – when the ball was dead – but they have been nothing more than a second liberal party when the rubber meets the road. Nothing has changed. Just take the platform, for example. There is a lot of hype in the media about the ‘severely’ conservative nature of the platform and how social conservatives won major victories. However, although a few good rhetorical lines were added, the platform has always been conservative. And at the same time, it has always been ignored. Sure, every Republican is for traditional marriage and religious liberty, but as we’ve demonstrated over and over again in this column. However, outside of a few stars, not a single major Republican will lift a finger to block even the most extreme and unconstitutional agenda items of the liberal culture warriors. And the Democrats know it.
This is exactly how we have gotten here in the first place and why the Left will continue to win 50-year culture battles over night without firing a shot. The party platform is for the virtual GOP museum, the proverbial conservative sandbox in which they are allowed to play. But it has no place on the real battlefield when the lead is actually flying. I’ll bet you anything, not a single agenda item of the RNC program will be geared towards social conservatives or pushing back vigorously against the Rainbow jihad and the cultural Marxists, even though the very foundation of our founding values of property, conscience, and natural law are facing an imminent demise.
Further exemplifying the typical behavior of cloddish Republicans, Trump continues to inexplicably sabotage his own messaging. After distracting from Hillary’s worst moment of any presidential campaign ever with his unforced errors, Trump had another opportunity last night to shed the spotlight on Hillary’s corruption with some of the good speakers at the convention. But just as the mother of one of the Benghazi victims was giving the most riveting takedowns of an opponent in convention history, Trump called into Fox News to blather, thereby alluring the networks to cut away from the convention speech. Then the campaign decided to plagiarize Michele Obama in order to script the most personal elements of Melania Trump’s speech, rendering the entire night moot in today’s media coverage.
Some things never change. And even after this much-vaunted anti-establishment takeover of the party, conservatives are still relegated to mere ceremonial messaging. Even that messaging is overshadowed by the same self-immolating tactics we’ve seen from the stupid party for decades.
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Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.