If … 19

“If Biden becomes president …” The words chill us to the bone, but we cannot now avoid uttering them.

And we cannot avoid hearing Trump supporters comforting one another by saying, “You don’t need to worry too much because we will still have the Senate. The Democrats won’t be able to put any of their dreadful domestic policies into effect because the Republican majority there will stop them.”

Suddenly, they trust the Senate Republicans!

Is there reason to trust them?

Julie Kelly writes at American Greatness:

In February 2020, Mitt Romney became the first U.S. senator in history to vote to convict the president of his own party. Despite a laughable impeachment case concocted by House Democrats and clear evidence of corruption tied to the Democratic presidential candidate whom the impeachment effort was designed to protect, Romney nonetheless supported the removal of Donald Trump from the White House.

“My faith is at the heart of who I am,” Utah’s junior senator claimed while working up tears from the Senate floor on February 5. “The grave question the Constitution tasks senators to answer is whether the president committed an act so extreme and egregious that it rises to the level of high crime and misdemeanor. Yes, he did.”

As we all know, President Trump had done nothing wrong, let alone an extremely egregious wrong. He was accused – to put the case briefly – of bribing a Ukrainian government to investigate whether Joe Biden had bribed a Ukrainian government to protect and enrich his son Hunter Biden and through his son, himself. President Trump had not done it. Joe Biden had done it. And Joe Biden’s party impeached Trump for doing it.

But Romney didn’t just pontificate about the president’s behavior. In that very same soliloquy, Romney defended the actions of both Joe and Hunter Biden.

“Taking excessive advantage of his father’s name is unsavory, it is not a crime.” Romney concluded, therefore, that since no crime had been committed by the Bidens, in his opinion, the president’s request that Ukrainian officials look into their shady business dealings was “political.”

With that, Mitt Romney secured his place in political history for something other than losing two campaigns for president.

In many respects, Romney is the poster child for the present-day Republican U.S. Senate: pandering, feckless, disloyal, and weak.

Yes, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s record on confirming federal judges, including three Supreme Court nominees, is laudable. But the four-year reign of the Republican Senate under a Republican president is a shameful account of missed opportunities, broken promises, and straight-up subversion of Donald Trump. During one of the most fraught, destructive periods in American history, Senate Republicans squandered rather than wielded their immense political power.

Longtime pledges to reform immigration laws and repeal the Affordable Care Act were cast aside. When the president used his legal authority to attempt to secure the southern border in the spring of 2019, a dozen Senate Republicans vetoed his emergency order.

Rather than stand up to the Democratic Party’s race hustlers, Senate Republicans—including McConnell—condemned the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor as racially motivated even when evidence contradicted those claims. A few Republican senators sponsored legislation to replace Columbus Day with Juneteenth as a sop to the Left.

As lawless thugs tore down statues of America’s Founders and Antifa mobs occupied swaths of major U.S. cities, some Republican senators didn’t even bother to attend a public hearing about Antifa’s ongoing threat to the country. President Trump often was the lone voice defending America’s history and ideals; following his riveting July 4 address at Mount Rushmore, where he unapologetically confronted America’s domestic enemies, Republican Senators were silent.

Of course, there’s no greater example of the Senate Republicans’ abdication of power than its complete and total failure to hold accountable any of the perpetrators of so-called Obamagate for orchestrating the biggest American political scandal of all time.

Republicans knew early on that the Steele dossier was garbage; Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and the late Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) were fully aware that the dossier was political propaganda sourced from a foreign operative paid by the Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee but legitimized its use as the pretext for the collusion scam.

Rather than put a stop to the phony Trump-Russia collusion plotline, Senate Republicans played along with their Democratic counterparts. Every single Republican senator supported the appointment of Robert Mueller, a Beltway crony and BFF of James Comey. The Senate Judiciary Committee, headed by Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) then by Graham, performed no oversight of Mueller’s destructive probe despite holding the purse strings. When the president justifiably expressed his frustration at Mueller’s “witch hunt”, instead of defending the president, Senate Republicans vowed to “protect the Special Counsel”. 

At the same time, top Republicans did nothing more than write stern letters and give Fox News interviews threatening to “get to the bottom” of the real scandal. Subpoenas were blocked; criminal referrals were ignored by the Justice Department; public interrogations were canceled or delayed until public interest waned.

The flagrantly corrupt chiefs of the country’s law enforcement and intelligence apparatus, rather than face jail time or at least a public tribunal of sorts similar to what House Democrats did to Donald Trump and his loyalists for two years, continue to demean the president on cable news shows and on social media.

The current composition of the Republican-held Senate is a tower of Jello, a quivering, wavering ship of fools, an embarrassing collection of dunces, dupes, and paper tigers.

We’ll call that a string of metaphors rather than a mixed one and give it a pass, because most of the Republicans in power are cowards, fools, dunces, and dupes of their more cunning, more determined, utterly unscrupulous Democrat colleagues.

For example, in a pre-Election Day tirade, Senator Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) insisted the president would cause major GOP losses as voters across the country rejected his antics and tweets. “We are staring down the barrel of a blue tsunami,” Sasse told supporters.

Now that is a mixed metaphor. A prize one. Proof that Republican Senator Sasse is a dunce. An inability to talk sense simply reveals an inability to think sensibly.

And he was wrong about the imminent arrival of a “blue tsunami”:

Not only did Republicans hold the Senate but they’ve picked up at least six House seats with more victories predicted.

Even now, as the president is fighting widespread election irregularities and suspected fraud, he is on his own. “Where is the GOP?!” Eric Trump tweeted Thursday afternoon. “Our voters will never forget . . .” (Late Thursday, Graham announced he would donate $500,000 to Trump’s legal defense fund.)

It’s pure folly to think this Republican Senate will act as a bulwark against a Biden-Harris Administration. Armed with a slim majority, Senate Republicans undoubtedly will play footsie with their former colleagues under the solemn banner of “bringing the country together”.

There is no reason to believe Senate Republicans won’t sign off on a Democrat-backed coronavirus relief package that includes a partial bailout of bankrupted blue states, a lite version of the Green New Deal or at least “climate change mitigation” legislation, expanded Obamacare coverage, more flexible immigration laws, and a variety of taxpayer-funded goodies from college debt forgiveness to some form of racial reparations.

McConnell already is ready to work with Biden on his cabinet after Democrats made life a living hell for every Trump appointee. … McConnell is signaling to Team Biden that he will approve “centrist options” and fight the nomination of any progressive candidates. But that won’t fly with the Democratic Party base; Biden owes them. And once the media goes scorched earth on Republican senators who won’t acquiesce, don’t be surprised when they cave.

Oh, and the little matter of Hunter Biden and the overwhelming evidence of the Biden family’s pay-to-play schemes with hostile foreign entities? Don’t hold your breath waiting for any follow-up investigation. Both Graham and Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) recently refused to commit to issuing a subpoena for the younger Biden.

“And this election did not give the Democrats power,” Ben Shapiro tweeted Thursday morning. “Biden’s most progressive priorities are DOA in a McConnell-run Senate.”

Only people who haven’t paid close attention to a McConnell-run Senate believe that to be true. Do they really believe folks like Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Ben Sasse and Lindsey Graham will hold their ground against Biden? Do they really think Mitt Romney won’t attempt to carve out some “Conscience of the Senate” role that lets him find common ground with Biden and Harris for the “betterment of democracy” or some nonsense?

Pure fantasy.

I hope I’m wrong, but I doubt I am. Listening to the deafening silence of Senate Republicans this week only reinforces my cynical analysis. If you’re disappointed with McConnell and company now, just wait until next year if Joe Biden is president.

If the Democrats get control of the presidency, the House and the Senate, they will do everything they can to stay in power permanently, and America is all too likely to become a one-party state. Ambitious politicians who call themselves Republicans now will happily become Democrats. It will not be a big change; they have been conniving with their opponents for years.

The Republican Party needs to be taken in hand by new young members who will make it energetic, effective, dedicated, and extremely aggressive – starting now before we even know for sure who the next president will be.

Obama’s solemn judgment 2

Again we pinch a neat cartoon from PowerLine:

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A more libertarian Republican Party? 2

This report, by Ross Tilchin, comes from the left-leaning Brookings Institution. It is titled On the libertarian challenge within the GOP.

Would a stronger appeal to libertarian values help the Republican Party win elections? This was one of the central questions raised during a discussion of the Public Religion Research Institute’s (PRRI’s) American Values Survey, “In Search of Libertarians in America,” launched at the Brookings Institution on October 29th, 2013.

Libertarianism has become a major part of the political conversation in the United States, thanks in large part to the high profile presidential candidacy of Ron Paul, the visibility of his son Rand in the United States Senate, and Vice-Presidential candidate Paul Ryan’s well-known admiration of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. And the tenets of libertarianism square with the attitudes of an American public dissatisfied with government performance, apprehensive about government’s intrusiveness into private life, and disillusioned with U.S. involvement overseas. Libertarianism is also distinct from the social conservatism that has handicapped the Republican Party in many recent elections among women and young people.

Within this context, libertarians seem likely to exercise greater sway on the Republican Party than at any other point in the recent past. But a closer look at public attitudes points to many factors that will limit the ability of libertarians to command greater influence within the GOP caucus.

First, according to the PRRI poll, libertarians represent only 12% of the Republican Party. This number is consistent with the findings of other studies by the Pew Research Center and the American National Election Study. This libertarian constituency is dwarfed by other key Republican groups, including white evangelicals (37%) and those who identify with the Tea Party (20%). Tea Party members are much more likely to identify with the religious right than they are with libertarianism. More than half of Tea Partiers (52%) say they are a part of the religious right or the conservative Christian movement, and more than one-third (35%) specifically identify as white evangelical Protestants. In contrast, only 26% of Tea Partiers were classified as libertarians on PRRI’s Libertarian Orientation Scale.

While these groups are similarly conservative on economic matters (indeed, libertarians are further to the right than white evangelicals or Tea Partiers on some economic issues, such as raising the minimum wage), they are extremely divided by their views on religion.

Only 53% of libertarians describe religion as the most important thing or one among many important things in their lives.

Only? We’re surprised there are so many. More than half!

By comparison, 77% of Tea Party members say that religion is either the most important thing or one among many important things in their lives, and – not surprisingly – 94% of white evangelicals say that religion is either the most important thing or one among many important things in their lives. A full 44% of libertarians say that religion is not important in their lives or that religion is not as important as other things in their lives. Only 11% of Tea Party members and 1% of white evangelicals say that religion is not important in their lives.

There are evangelicals who say that? Evangelicals in name only, then? EINOs.

Additionally, libertarians are among the most likely to agree that religion causes more problems in society than it solves (37% total: 17% completely agreeing, 20% mostly agreeing); the least likely to agree that it is important for children to be brought up in a religion so they can learn good values (35% total: 13% completely disagree, 22% disagree); and the least likely to think it is necessary to believe in God in order to be moral and have good values (63% total: 30% completely disagree, 33% mostly disagree).

About a third of the surveyed libertarians find it necessary to believe in a heavenly Lord? Astonishing.

These stark differences in attitudes toward religion help explain the large difference in view between libertarians and other conservatives on social issues such as abortion, physician-assisted suicide, and marijuana legalization. Given their positions on these contentious social matters, it is very difficult to envision Libertarians gaining the support of socially conservative voters in the Republican Party.

Libertarians’ influence on the Republican Party is also limited by geography. Libertarians are broadly dispersed across the country – and even where they are most regionally concentrated, they are outnumbered by Tea Partiers and White Evangelicals. …

Of the 10 states that Sorens identifies as having the most libertarians, only New Hampshire, Nevada, and Georgia had spreads of 8 points or less in the 2012 presidential election. The other seven were either solidly red (Montana, Alaska, Idaho, Indiana, Wyoming, and Utah) or solidly blue (Washington and Oregon).

As such, there seems little impetus for any ideological change of course in these states—not to mention the South writ large, the region with the greatest level of libertarian support — since they are already so stoutly Republican. Perhaps in individual districts with a particular libertarian bent, libertarian candidates could have some electoral success. But any candidate running as a libertarian would, by the nature of libertarianism, have to emphasize their laissez-faire values on social issues. If running for higher office, this would surely alienate more socially conservative voters, so strongly represented in the Republican Party in these areas.

The business establishment of the Republican Party would seem a natural libertarian ally, given its moderate views on social issues, opposition to government regulation, and natural sympathy for classical economics. But this view is contested by Henry Olsen of the Ethics and Public Policy Center. At the recent Brookings discussion, Olsen argued that the business community consists of “people who are generally but not intensely opposed to government expansion, people who are generally but not intensely supportive of personal social liberties, people who are generally but not intensely suspicious of intervention abroad. That is the center of the Republican Party, not the libertarian alliance.” The very intensity of the libertarian movement is, as Olsen observed, “a bit off-putting to the person in the middle.” …

Though the states with the most libertarians are primarily rural, libertarians are also wealthier than average, better educated than average, and young (indeed, 62% of libertarians are under the age of 50) — three demographic sets that tend to live in densely populated areas. Heavily populated areas are overwhelmingly Democratic. It is not clear how many of voters in these areas would support a more libertarian Republican [candidate]. Regardless, it is even less likely that libertarianism would tilt the balance in urban counties towards the GOP’s way. …

For a variety of reasons, the burden falls on libertarians to demonstrate how they will change these dynamics. While there may be real appeal for some for Republicans to embrace a more libertarian approach, the undercurrents of the party do not paint an encouraging picture for this as a successful electoral strategy. …

The cornerstone of libertarianism — a fervent belief in the pre-eminence of personal liberty — leads libertarians to hold views on social issues that fall far outside of the mainstream of large portions of the Republican Party. In addition, libertarians’ greatest concentrations in numbers tend to fall either in small, sparsely populated states with less national political power, or among younger individuals who live predominantly in densely populated, Democratic areas. This culminates in an environment where political and demographic forces across the United States and within the Republican Party itself severely limit the power and growth of libertarians as a force within the GOP.

Scott Shackford, writing at Reason, comments on the report:

I take slight issue with the analysis, though perhaps not the conclusion. What’s left out is the very libertarian idea that just because libertarians don’t see religion as an important component to their own lives, that doesn’t mean we would object to others who decide otherwise. And believing that “religion causes more problems in society than it solves” should not be taken to mean that a libertarian believes the government should implement policies in a pursuit to “fix” these problems.

Obviously there is disagreement, but it’s not actually, literally about faith. The disagreement is about the extent of and justifications for the use of government force. To say that religious beliefs should not be used to determine whether it should be legal to get an abortion or get married is not to say that people shouldn’t use religion to make these decisions for themselves in their own lives.

Given the libertarian rejection of government coercion, who else is better suited to even approach these issues with social conservatives? Who outside of libertarians is arguing in favor of same-sex marriages getting the same legal recognition as heterosexual marriages, while at the same time arguing that no church should be obligated to recognize them, nor should any business be dragooned into providing goods and services for them?

Rather than seeing libertarians in opposition to social conservatives, it’s more helpful to see libertarians as allies in protecting the civil liberties of the religious even as they lose cultural influence. Libertarians may not be able to “take over” the Republican Party (not that they should stop trying), but the party itself may be in deep trouble if these factions cannot find points of agreement.

One point that emerges from the data and the discussion as a whole is that the issue of personal liberty is assumed to be of no concern at all to the Democratic Party.

If the Republican Party – for all its faults – is so clearly the party of liberty, then all the straining by these earnest scholars of the Left to prove it is mostly the party of religious nuts and southern fuddy-duddies, is wasted effort. Those who want to be free need to vote Republican. Those who want Big Brother (or Daddy or Nanny) Government to run their lives, and keep them dependent on the whims of bureaucrats and collectivist ideologues, will vote Democratic.

If only the Republican Party could learn how to get voters to understand that that is the choice.