As longtime readers will recall, in the wake of John McCain’s pathetic, milquetoast, almost apologetic presidential campaign — which resulted in the election of Barack Obama — I berated the Mitch McConnells of the world, who told us (just two short years before the TEA Party revolution hit the electoral scene with an unpredicted fury) that the “era of Reagan was over,” and that Republicans who continued to speak in the language of principled conservatism risked reducing the GOP to a “regional party.”
McConnell wasn’t alone, of course, and my own cries of outlaw! grew from my very public tussles with GOP boosters and supposedly “conservative” bloggers who likewise counseled that the only way we could win going forward was to be very careful with how we expressed our principles. How we framed our message — along with a turn toward “pragmatic” politicking that stressed managing narratives and exhibiting a united front (which, shockingly, meant showing a united front in support of the very establishment that has lost so many elections, and helped move the country ever more leftward by replacing conservative Democrats with moderate Republicans on the political spectrum, forcing Democrats more left and relegating constitutional conservatism / classical liberalism / libertarianism to the fringes) over such “Purist” or “True Believer” antics as speaking the plain truth or actually challenging DC orthodoxy, regardless of which party was promoting it — became the new en vogue concern of the opinion leaders and strategy shapers, and, as it happens, was precisely the kind of myopic thinking that led us to where we today find ourselves, being told yet again by the establishment that we need to compromise, to re-brand the party, the result of which is a House GOP majority whose leadership claims to be a minority and who has dismissed the wishes of its constituencies to caucus with the actual minority party in order to get the minority party’s agenda passed. This, they seem to think, will win over the “moderates” and “independents” — even though it never has, and never will.
That is, McConnell’s analysis has proven to be 180-degrees out of turn — it was the TEA Party movement, built along the very contours of the frustrations I’d expressed in my outlawism posts, that reinvigorated the GOP and brought them to power in 2010, not just nationally but in governorships and in state assemblies across the country; and it is the TEA Party movement that the GOP establishment is at war with, even as it joins with left-wing “progressive” Democrats to write and pass legislation that will fundamentally transform the nature of the relationship between government and citizen.
In the years after the 2008 presidential election, and in particular, after my public chastisement of certain right wing sites for their having bought in to the establishment spin (as an aside, you don’t need to take my word for this, you can research it yourself: look at the number of links I received from the top-tier right-wing sites prior to Obama’s ascension and then afterward when I started turning my attention to the problems within the Republican Party and its strategy makers and mouthpieces, whom I called out by name), protein wisdom was very obviously relegated to some sort of networking black list; people who once linked me routinely today won’t even follow me on Twitter, much less link back to the site. Which is why I find the sudden return to a demand for conservative principles from some of those same sites who worked so determinedly to marginalize me both ironic and galling, and yet humorous in their cynical transparency. That is, for those who wish to naval gaze.
All of which I mention only as a prelude to what many of us can feel is happening right now within the GOP: a civil war, one in which the young TEA Party constitutionalists, far from backing down from the establishment old bulls (who are content to foist symbolic but feckless votes on us to “prove” they stand with us, while simultaneously surrendering their leverage in advance of every procedural battle in which they might actually affect change and slow down the march of progressive government growth and institutionalization), are actively — and, more importantly, publicly — challenging them.
John McCain and Lindsey Graham looked like petulant schoolchildren who craved the spotlight when they went to the floor of the Senate after a “marvelous” dinner with Barack Obama to berate Rand Paul for his filibuster, in which he sought to have clarified constitutional questions of a government that has run roughshod over, eg., the Appointments Clause, and has engaged in any number of maneuvers to use Executive Orders and bureaucratic regulations to circumvent the authority of the Congress; Charles Krauthammer looks like a pedantic snob when he takes to FOX News to chastise Ted Cruz for questioning Dianne Feinstein, first by misrepresenting Cruz’s argument, second by questioning his tone, and finally by noting that he doesn’t think Cruz “helped himself” — as if the object of every politician must be to help his or herself, rather than protect the citizenry from the government, a dynamic intended by the Constitution itself.
Aside from a few people left on the network, FOX News is not a conservative outlet. It is the white-boarded symbol of GOP status-quo governance. Similarly, the suddenly red-meat conservative commentators popping up in the online opinion circles? I’d advise you go back and look at what they were writing in 2008 before the TEA Party revolution, many of them having been caught completely off guard by it. I’d invite you to examine — regardless of the awards they are granted, or the incestuousness of the networking that keeps them extraordinarily influential — which types of Republicans they attack and which they support; if they have been pro-incumbent or pro-primary challenge; if they have counseled pragmatism or principle. If they’ve joined the chorus demeaning the “True Believers” and Hobbits and Visigoths, until such time as it became apparent to them that such people, and their message, is beginning to resonate with a revived and energized base.
Because these are the kinds of people who benefit from a perpetual state of political expedience, who blow with the political winds, as it were. They dislike being criticized, and they are perfectly happy to freeze out those who they believe muddle the communication strategy they have determined is the right one — often quite wrongly. They dislike debate and a free exchange of ideas, though they give lip-service to supporting it; they admire and seek to emulate the unified front of the Democrats, because they mistakenly believe that it is that unified front that secures Democrats electoral victories, when instead it is their own very determined decision to try to manage messages instead of fighting for principles that turns voters off.
And even now, many of them are trying desperately to cling to power, to maintain the status quo, because it is within the current broken system — the one that benefits politicians while screwing over their constituencies — that they thrive. And they’ll be goddamned if any presumptuous set of “citizen legislators” — that is, those who aren’t looking to make a career out of living inside the DC bubble and adapting to its tony ways — is going to come along and upset their well-stocked, perpetually refilled apple cart.
They are concerned only with themselves and their own perks and powers. And just because they wear an R behind their name, or sport a flag lapel pin and mouth conservative pieties from time to time, doesn’t mean they are at all on the side of the people, of the Constitution, of individual liberty and autonomy. In fact, the vast majority of them reject such antiquated principles and instead seek to have a more efficient Leviathan running the lives of the masses. And that’s deplorable.
But against that is rising a new breed, many of whom appeared at CPAC and delivered rousing, principled, optimistic speeches that celebrated the US, that celebrated free market capitalism, and that blasted the old guard for presuming to run the party whose base has come to despise them.
And not all of these were Republicans. Because as I wrote back in 2008-9, a pro-liberty movement will likely attract those Democrats who believe in the Constitution and are worried about the trajectory of a government that is no longer left and right within the context of a free market capitalist system and representative republic, but one in which the contemporary left represents and embodies the ideology of the Marxists and socialists whom the JFK Democrats utterly rejected.
That is, the return of the Reagan Democrat will mark the way back from the New Left authoritarianism and liberal fascism that we’re currently living under. And to get the Reagan Democrat back, you don’t run a mushy, Dem-lite “maverick” like John McCain, or a wavering, pragmatic technocrat like Mitt Romney, both of whom have a history of being much harder on conservatives than on “progressives”.
To get the Reagan Democrat — and to inspire the base, and carry along libertarians — you run principled constitutionalists who are willing to stand up and in clear language reject the arguments of the left. You run pro-liberty candidates who are able to articulate the principles of classical liberalism upon which this country was founded, those who don’t run and hide from unfair characterizations of their positions but rather use those opportunities to make corrections, to amplify their actual beliefs, and to counterattack. Reagan knew this; the GOP establishment, because they don’t really stand for any of those things, consistently fights against those who act in just that way. A big government benefits both parties. That’s the dirty secret about DC and the one the GOP old guard is willing to kill Republican rising stars to protect.
Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Louie Gohmert, Mike Lee, Pat Toomey, Tim Scott, Allen West, Sarah Palin, Steve King, Marco Rubio (and there are others) — these are the kinds of Republicans many of the establishment politicians on both sides of the aisle despise. Not just dislike but literally despise.
And that’s because it is politicians of this type who are insisting on returning to first principles, on reining in government, on freeing up the economy, on addressing serious economic concerns, on speaking the truth and on taking the fight to the statists of both parties who daily, hourly, and by the minute molest us and infringe upon our rights and freedoms.
I have been touting Ted Cruz and Rand Paul for quite some time here. I have some concerns with Rubio, but I think at heart he is a pro-US, pro-liberty conservative who has simply to be corrected on a number of premises he’s adopted along the way, after which his message will resonate more completely with constitutionalists who remain dubious. Allen West was my choice for Speaker of the House, with Louie Gohmert and Michele Bachmann my other choices. Unfortunately, when it was determined that no one wanted to really take on Boehner, Bachmann folded and cast her vote for him. I’ve written numerous emails asking that she explain that vote but they’ve all been bounced back to me. I suspect it has to do with her not wanting to be frozen out yet again in tough re-election fights by the GOP establishment, who controls the party purse strings, but while that is understandable, it is still unfortunate, and I’d rather she admit as much as a way to shine a light on the institutionalized problems than worry about her own political survival.
But the times, they are a-changin’. And today, I want to celebrate what is becoming the ascendancy of the outlaw movement by spotlighting a number of CPAC speeches, including one from former Dem strategist and pollster for Jimmy Carter, Pat Caddell. Because he is precisely the kind of Democrat who today would be thrilled to see the US return to a pro-liberty trajectory — and who is disgusted by what he sees coming not only from the progressive left, but from the establishment right.
Marco Rubio, CPAC:
Rand Paul, CPAC:
Tim Scott, CPAC:
Allen West, CPAC:
Louie Gohmert, CPAC:
Ted Cruz in the Senate well, on ObamaCare:
Ted Cruz in the Senate Committee, taking on Sen Feinstein, et al.
Why wasn’t Chris Christie invited, Joe Scarborough? Because he isn’t conservative. Nor are you, despite being featured at the “conservative summit” put on by National Review. Why isn’t the decision not to feature Christie a “GOP death wish”, Rep King? Because the GOP is already nearly dead, and it’s beginning to dawn on some people that, after the Romney debacle, pushing Christie — who has a 74% popularity rate in liberal New Jersey — is itself a death wish.
As Jim Geraghty noted in his Morning Jolt, the tenor of CPAC is decidedly moving in one direction, with one attendee delivering the best line of the day: “Can we at least have two Reagans before we have three Bushes?”
Have fun, Jeb. Who I suspect is right now furiously rewriting his speech to take out all the stuff about not drawing stark lines, and about conservatives hating Asians and Mexicans.
Go ahead, retweet this. You know you want to.
Oh. And outlaw!