Hey, remember that GOP Big Tent?
You know, the one we lay claim to by not being True Believers and idealists, but rather by appealing to moderates and independents?
Turns out that conservatives and libertarians need not apply. Or rather, they’re welcomed in — but only so long as they follow the leadership of John Boehner and Eric Cantor. And hew to the party line, which aims at cutting deals, spinning surrender into Pyrrhic victory, and securing the power of the party leadership.
In fact, it looks like pragmatism — that is, a willingness to forgo the wishes of your base constituency (which you’ll satisfy with certain empty gestures or show votes) — is the new Purity Test, and those who fail it will be punished, either by the Party not lending help in election or re-election campaigns (and in some cases, actually coming out in support of the rival Democrat), or by punishments behind the scenes, from the petty (like staffing or office assignment) to the profound (removing conservatives and libertarians from committee roles, in an unprecedented show of pure political intra-party bloodsport).
Let me say this in no uncertain terms: the contemporary GOP establishment does not represent the interests or even the ideals of its own supposed base. It exists for its own ends, to secure its own power, which it manages to do through internal party politics and then, from there, by remaining risk averse and willing to deal with progressives — all in order to blunt the wrath of the DC culture, which permeates out to the mainstream liberal press.
That is, the GOP establishment exists solely for the sake of perpetuating itself. And to do so, it has concluded that it need rid the government of principled men and women (conservatives, libertarians, classical liberals) and replace them with party bureaucrats whose goal it is to shore up the establishment’s hold over the Party. By being cast as “open-minded” and “willing to compromise.”
It’s John McCain’s “Maverick” appellation becoming the new party identity. It the Colin Powellization of the GOP. By design. And the current GOP leadership believes that, so long as they avoid confrontation on the basis of principles — and simply cut deals where they can so long as they can lay claim to some small victory (no tax rate increases! Except for all of you who’ve lost your child tax credits, mortgage deductions, or whose family will be hit by the “death tax” or an increased corporate tax, raising the cost of nearly everything!) — then they can keep their perks, keep campaigning (and raising money) on promises to combat that to which they then meekly concede (tax pledge! Bah. I signed that before I wanted to save the country!), and keep up the ruse of a two-party oppositional system.
What the GOP leadership inside DC learned from the McCain and Romney presidential efforts is that they’ll be accepted and largely left alone, not terribly demonized, provided they keep their heads low and play their role, which is to manage the expectations of their base while granting the left its incremental changes toward “fundamental transformation.”
After all, when you spend twenty or thirty years in DC, the idea of a smaller limited federal government is but a quaint idea held by rubes who Just Don’t Know How DC Works.
Except we Hobbits do know how it works. And it disgusts us. Which is why it’s going to have to be our goal to drastically change the culture of DC — or else blow the whole thing up (figuratively speaking) and start fresh, with things like term limit pledges and the requirement that Senators and Congressman operate out of their own states, using modern videoconferencing technologies to show up for votes or caucus meetings, etc., while for the most part remaining home, close to their constituencies, where they can be directly answerable to the concerns of those who elected them.
And the movement must begin for a repeal of the 17th Amendment, as well; if states truly wish to be represented in Congress, the era of turning Senate elections into national elections — Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid poured tons of money into contested Senate seats to defeat conservatives, while the GOP establishment was itself tacitly complicit, withholding funds or (in some cases) actively denouncing their own candidates — must end.
Further, GOP governors must begin insisting that their states be removed, wherever and whenever possible, from the federal teat. Sure, they’ll lose out on lots of federal monies for high speed rail, eg., that will go to some other governor willing to play puppet and dance to the string tugs of the federal government masters — but so what? They can fight back by refusing to abide certain bureaucratic mandates, withholding monies collected by way of regulatory compliance from the federal trough.
And they must likewise find a way Constitutionally to launch effective protests against current monetary policy, which they know will at some point cripple their states with hyperinflation and worthless paper currency.
This thing isn’t over yet. But systemic changes need be made. The current GOP leadership does not represent most of us who have voted Republican, if only because we considered doing so the lesser of two evils. As such, we should stop allowing them to act on our behalf.
Boehner must go. Dragged off if needs be, mewling and cursing, leaving behind him his very own little orange Trail of Tears.
That’s a start.