The Republicans' Road to Rovetown

Early November signified a bolder refutation of a political platform in Washington than any that had been seen in an election for many decades.  Republicans reaped a windfall of power in Congress, granted by an energetic conservative base and large swathes of independents equally unsatisfied with Democrat leadership in recent years.

No honest spectator can deny that, just as no honest spectator can deny that central to this election were two key social and spending issues -- Obamacare and the Democrats’ proposed actions granting amnesty and the economic and social benefits of American citizenship (healthcare, education, welfare, etc.) to illegal aliens who’ve broken federal law by entering this country.  Many Democrats spent the months leading up to the election distancing their campaign message from their party’s bulwark positions on these issues, and Republicans more loudly and convincingly denounced the Democrats. 

Republicans are very much in more sovereign control politically at this moment, despite the fact that the numerical advantage will not be realized in Congress until early 2015.  Nonetheless, they’ve spearheaded a 1,600 page, $1.1 trillion spending bill that passed both chambers of Congress, and which Barack Obama has just happily signed into law.

For context, that’s just over $300 billion more in federal spending than the $787 billion bill that Democrats spearheaded in 2009, called the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.  And it is even more than the initial projections of ~$900 billion that the Congressional Budget Office initially declared would be the cost of the Affordable Care and Patient Protection Act, aka Obamacare, which was rammed down Americans’ throats in spite of popular opposition.  And in case you don’t remember, those two bills really ruffled Republicans’ feathers, if their vehemently stated policy positions and rhetoric going into November are to be believed. 

Now, their tune on big federal spending has apparently changed.  They’re more than willing to finance a big, unreadable, convoluted-yet-quickly-agreed-upon federal spending package on the strength of your unborn grandchildren’s eventual contributions to the coffers, and in grander fashion than even the Democrats were given to do. 

However, this $1.1 trillion bill was passed with little fanfare or discussion, and with such little respect for the American people that Congress didn’t even feel the need to set the stage for the massive spending by imposing a the backdrop of an economy-saving stimulus meant to stave off  recession as Democrats did in 2009.  They didn’t even feel the need to invoke emotional implications like 40+ million Americans living without healthcare insurance as they did in 2010. 

There was simply no time for a debate on this matter.  “We’ve done this in a bipartisan fashion, and frankly, it’s a good bill,” House Speaker John Boehner would say after negotiating another quantum leap in the national debt into an obscure funnel of government bureaucracy that will fund Obamacare and allow for amnesty for illegal aliens. That’s all we conservatives get for our vote, just a month after voters elected Republicans to take an exactly opposite course of action than the one they’ve immediately taken.

Karl Rove and his self-anointed masters of the universe in the GOP establishment are unaffected and undeterred by such obvious considerations.  Their days are already filled by euphorically contemplating the real ground game for 2016.  David Corbin and Matt Parks at The Federalist sum up Rove’s position thusly:

Rove argues that to win the “invisible” (pre-spotlight) primary, a candidate must enthusiastically support the GOP’s preferred candidates, generic message, and jobs program for veteran political hacks funded by the credulous and self-interested donor class.  In other words, a 2016 candidate must tacitly give his unswerving loyalty to the rule that one’s candidacy will in no way threaten the status quo or derail its well-orchestrated puppet show.  Show yourself to be a company man, and your time will come.

And we’ve seen the marionettes strutting before us in the headlines, haven’t we?  We’ve heard how Mitt Romney is mulling a third shot at the ticket.   How Jeb Bush asked advice from John McCain about headlining the Republican ticket without having to “pander” to the conservative base. (He couldn’t seek better counsel?) How Chris Christie has shown his blue state bona fides just convincingly enough that he can go toe-to-toe with a candidate like Hillary in 2016.

The problem that Rove and the great thinkers behind all these grand thoughts don’t realize is that it may not be Hillary in 2016.  In fact at this point, I’d wager it won’t be.  A radical leftist who more convincingly defined his positions and excited the base was chosen over her in 2008, and he went on to trounce the Republican establishment-approved picks in 2008 and 2012.  Who’s to say that a figure like Elizabeth Warren won’t be selected to combat the waffling Republican establishment’s pick and his now tiresomely “generic message” about how the conservatives that comprise the voting base are stupid for not wanting government healthcare and amnesty, how the big spending Democrats are right on certain things, and how we need to compromise with Democrats, unto the death of all fiscally conservative values?

Karl Rove and his brain trust are nowhere near the pulse of Republican constituents or the American people, who resoundingly aligned with the message that Republicans have just self-repudiated with this $1.1 trillion spending bill.  No, they’re lost out there with John Boehner somewhere, wandering aimlessly near Capitol Hill as they build their $1.1 trillion bastion in the political wilderness, toward which they argue we all must follow them in hopes of our salvation, or die in a mass party suicide should the endeavor fail again for some reason.

We shouldn’t hitch our wagon, or the future of the American idea, to Rove’s lonely and burnt out star.  It would be better of us to take this opportunity, in response to this outright betrayal by the Republican establishment, to burn down the edifices that Rove and Company have built in favor of appointing some new engineers to add some integrity to the Republican foundation. 

Cruz, Lee, Carson, Paul, whoever it may be.  We will stand with those who wish to defect from the establishment’s proven losing agenda, and will support any and all who have the decency to represent us and fulfill the purpose of our November votes -- fiscal responsibility, the prudent diminution of federal government’s authority, and the repealing of its overreaches beyond its constitutional tether.  And we are now in the position, having been confronted with the possibility that we are voiceless on the Hill, that we are longing for someone with the courage to be our voice against the forces that insist that there is no way to salvation but through Washington’s expansion of power. 

William Sullivan blogs at Political Palaver and can be followed on Twitter.