Whose side are you on?
By Ryan S. Walters
Like it or not there is, at present, a civil war inside the Republican Party. It is a battle over the soul of the party, over its ideology, and over which direction the party will take in the future. One side is very conservative, the ideological children of Jefferson, who seek to reform government from top to bottom, while the others, the establishment, want to maintain the status quo with a more moderate to liberal approach.
The split has always been there, going back to the days of Lincoln and TR. But it’s probably more prominent now than at any time since Teddy’s Bull Moose progressive insurgency. Now, though, the insurgents are the conservatives, or true conservatives to be more precise.
In Mississippi the divide was exposed for all to see during the Senate race between Chris McDaniel and Thad Cochran. On one side we have true conservatives, labeled McDaniel Republicans, or the McGOP. The new brand, though, has been the object of scorn and ridicule from the establishment – party bigwigs and their cohorts in the media.
Y’all Politics contributor Frank Corder, who has accused McDaniel of “peddling division and false hope,” has written that McDaniel Republicans believe that they alone are the “true conservatives who hold fast to Reagan and the Constitution.” And to this I say, yes we do, and proudly so. Even though he was writing in a mocking tone, it was probably the most honest statement from Corder’s pen in years, though unintended I’m sure.
Is the statement not true? Thad Cochran certainly doesn’t hold fast to either one and never has. His side, the Cochran Republicans, plays lip service to conservatism, the Constitution, and especially to Reagan but have no intention of supporting policies that uphold these beliefs. Cochran, we should recall, did not support the insurgent Reagan in 1976, but the hapless Ford, which gave us Carter.
But this division is not limited to Mississippi. It also exists in other states, though perhaps not as wide. In Kentucky, for example, there are Paul Republicans and McConnell Republicans. There are Cruz Republicans in Texas, Lee Republicans in Utah, and so on.
So what are the differences between the two Mississippi camps? They are legion, I’m afraid.
McDaniel Republicans believe in true Jeffersonian conservatism and can trace their ideological heritage back to the formation of Jefferson’s insurgency in the early 1790s. In my book, The Last Jeffersonian, I defined these principles this way: limited government, federalism, economy and accountability, sound money, low taxes and tariffs, fair trade, no national debt, strict construction of the Constitution, protection of civil liberties, a strong national defense, and a non-interventionist foreign policy. How else could you describe conservatism?
Cochran Republicans, representing the establishment, call themselves conservatives but are nothing of the sort. It is a bit harder to pin down their ideological beliefs because they really don’t seem to have any, flirting as they did with Democrats in the June 24 runoff. Perhaps if Mr. Cochran had debated Senator McDaniel, rather than run after liberal votes, we might know more about what his real views are but instead he stayed scarce. That, though, was the plan. To be fair, if I had his voting record I would not want to showcase it in front of the whole state either.
So how can we define a Cochran Republican? They are the opposite of McDaniel Republicans. In short, they capitulate to the notion of Big Government. They do not believe in limited government, as Cochran’s record can attest. They have not protected our federal system from abuse, as Cochran’s string-attached earmarks demonstrate. How about economy and accountability? Ha! Sound money? Yeah right! Any of the rest? It’s laughable to think they hold fast to any of these principles. In 42 years, no big ideas ever came from Thad Cochran, only big spending.
We, the true conservatives of Mississippi, do stand for these values but are ridiculed for it by those in the establishment who want to fool us into believing they are the ones who should rightfully run the government, their record of service being so stellar. To this is say, we gave you a chance and you blew it. Republicans had control of the government under George W. Bush for six years and all we got was more government and no meaningful reforms. Excuse us for not trusting you again.
And here we are, in the fall of 2014, in the midst of a very important midterm election, where the hope is to take back the US Senate from Harry Reid and the Democrats, and hopefully stop Obama in his last two years in the White House. But instead of having good, solid conservative candidates like Chris McDaniel, Matt Bevin, and the like, we must do so with establishment choices, or Democrat Lite.
Now the fall campaign is in full swing. Establishment candidates are traveling their states and districts (all except Cochran, of course) and debating their opponents (again, except Ole Thad). The RNC is busy trying to raise money and buy media ads.
But, even with the establishment’s chosen candidates, what has been the message thus far? What does the party stand for? All we are hearing is how we must re-take the Senate. If that is the overall goal, then what’s the plan after doing so? Does anyone know?
The answer is no. Entering October the Republican Party has no platform for the future. There is no plan of action, no list of reforms, no catchy slogans. The party even seems to have abandoned the plan of repealing Obamacare, and is still promising to pass amnesty. I guess their slogan, if we can give them one, would be: “Vote for us, at least we are not completely like the Democrats.” How inspiring!
With a program like this, why should we care if we re-take the Senate or not? If the GOP is not going to do anything with it, or if they fall back on old habits and follow a Democratic-Lite strategy just like they did the last time, what’s the point?
As true conservatives, we believe in fighting for principles, not waving the white flag of surrender. Geoff Pender, in the Clarion Ledger, recently said we were throwing a temper tantrum. Ridicule us all you want, but at least McDaniel Republicans, Cruz Republicans, Paul Republicans, and Lee Republicans actually do stand for something. And it’s these insurgents who are crafting bold agendas and big ideas.
It was Mike Lee who proposed specific cuts in the federal budget (that Thad voted against) and a strong balanced budget amendment that was not a budgetary gimmick (that Thad also opposes). It was Rand Paul who stood up for civil liberties and against unauthorized wars, as well as a plan to slash $500 billion from the federal budget (with no support from Thad). It was Ted Cruz who stood courageously on the Senate floor in a bold effort to defund Obamacare (when Thad was nowhere to be found).
It’s McDaniel Republicans who are standing against Common Core; Cochran Republicans support it. It’s McDaniel Republicans who are fighting to defend the border and against amnesty; Cochran Republicans seek open borders and cheap labor. It’s McDaniel Republicans who are seeking to audit the Fed and save the dollar; Cochran Republicans recoil at the notion. It’s McDaniel Republicans who seek to end the IRS and it’s abuses; Cochran Republicans like it just the way it is. It’s McDaniel Republicans who want to restrain the growing powers of the president; Cochran Republicans want a strong, unaccountable executive, at least when a Republican is in office. The list could go on ad infinitum.
And what has been the response from Establishment (i.e. Cochran) Republicans? More scorn and ridicule. They want no meaningful changes, no reforms, only a new opportunity to manage the federal mess themselves, not to clean it up. This is the sum total of the whole divide. We seek change for the better; they don’t.
Folks, it’s time to choose sides, whether you are in Mississippi, Texas, Kentucky, Utah, or in any other state. It’s time for new leadership in the Republican Party. It’s time to separate the wheat from the chaff. We will only get this country moving again with true conservative principles, those emanating from McDaniel Republicans, which have worked time and again whenever they have been enacted, whether by Jefferson, Cleveland, Coolidge, or Reagan. As Mark Levin said recently, we must nominate a conservative for President in 2016, the first since Reagan. The Cochrans of the GOP have had their chance and do not deserve another crack at leadership. Looking ahead, the future of the country, and our state, depends on our choice.