During our on-going GOP civil war, one topic of great contention is the definition of “conservative.” Our Establishment opponents have never defined it, except when they are accusing true conservatives, like Senator Chris McDaniel, of being “not particularly conservative,” yet with no defined parameters.
But conservatism must mean something. We true conservatives contend that it comes from the original ideals of Jefferson’s Republican Party – limited government, federalism, low taxes, no national debt, strict construction of the Constitution. They seem to think it means being slightly to the right of Chuck Schumer.
And as we approach a possible new showdown in Mississippi, the Establishment is trying to do with Roger Wicker what they did with Thad Cochran – portray him as conservative and McDaniel, and those like him, as radical bomb-throwing fanatics who seek the destruction of the government. So essentially the same tactic we see from liberal Democrats.
In a recent column, Charlie Mitchell tried to boost Wicker’s conservative bona fides but was clearly struggling to do so:
“Of course, what’s interesting is that Wicker, when first elected to the U.S. House in 1994, was one of 53 Republican Revolution new delegates elected via the Contract With America devised by Barbour, then Republican National Committee chair,” he wrote. “In fact, Wicker was elected president of that ‘super conservative’ freshman class Democrats feared so much.
“Voters were aghast at the then $4.5 trillion national debt which … has increased more than four-fold since. In 1994, conservatives gained control of Congress and were going to wrest America back from the precipice.”
After praising Wicker’s illustrious career, Mitchell was finally forced to admit that Wicker knows that he is “not nearly conservative enough. He’s extremely vulnerable and he knows it.”
“Wicker has become more and more vocally anti-abortion and pro-gun and has refused to declare that climate change is real,” he continued. He “is a conservative in the mold of Cochran, Barbour and so many others who have been targeted across America for not being conservative enough.”
That fact becomes even more obvious when you consider what else Mitchell had to say. “Truth be told, McDaniel has already had an influence on Wicker, pushing him more and more to the right. That’s because the 2014 tally wasn’t complete before Mississippi’s junior senator — very conservative but more gentlemanly — knew McDaniel would come after him.”
So if Wicker is a principled conservative – more conservative than Cochran – why would he need to shift to the right? Because he is no true conservative. He’s not a Jeffersonian and can claim no ideological kinship to Calvin Coolidge, Robert Taft or Barry Goldwater. Nothing in his record reveals an interest in Austrian economics, Ludwig von Mises, F. A. Hayek, or even Adam Smith.
Yet his record does reveal an attachment to the Establishment and the expansion of government.
Consider: Wicker has voted against every effort to end earmarks, opposed term limits, and rejected efforts to cut funding to the NEA, NEH, and UNESCO. He also supported Bush’s massive prescription drug benefit for Medicare that was the largest entitlement expansion since the Great Society.
He has also opposed every conservative budget put forth in Congress. The leadership (i.e. Establishment) proposes a budget blueprint but oftentimes conservatives will offer counter-proposals and substitutes. Wicker has voted against them all.
One of the best proposals in recent years came from Rand Paul, who proposed a massive plan that would have cut $8 trillion over 10 years, eliminate four cabinet departments (Education, Energy, HUD, and Commerce), repeal Obamacare, block grant Medicaid, reform Medicare and Social Security, repeal Dodd-Frank, expand energy exploration, and privatize the TSA. Wicker, like Cochran, voted against it.
This just barely scratches the surface on a record that is nearly identical to Thad Cochran’s but the point is solid: How can anyone call Roger Wicker a conservative?