Last week, conservative Dan Liljenquist surprised everyone by denying Orrin Hatch an outright victory at the convention, forcing a competitive primary. This, despite millions of dollars spent by Hatch urging newcomers to astroturf the convention on behalf of the old bull.
Ever since Hatch perceived a threat on his right flank two years ago, he has latched himself onto the junior senator, Mike Lee, and has been transformed into a born-again conservative.
Many argue that Hatch has sufficiently repented from his old ways of bailouts, amnesty, and government-run healthcare. They contend that he has moved so far to the right that it’s not worth taking a swing at him. However, they are forgetting a time-tested truism of the senators who represent conservative states. They are conservative for the two years preceding their reelection until they resort back to their old ways after reelection.
Moreover, even in his current capacity as Hatch 2.0, he is still no Mike Lee.
Just consider Hatch’s stance on the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). As the Salt Lake City Tribune reminds us, “Hatch not only helped create the Violence Against Women Act in 1994, he also led two successful efforts since then to reauthorize the federal government’s signature bill to combat domestic abuse.” Yet, he voted against the reauthorization last week.
In an effort to explain his vote, Hatch resorted to the typical “split the baby” pale pastel approach to Republican opposition of Democrat legislation. He contends that while he supports the underlying law, he has misgivings about the “new and divisive projects.”
On the face of it, that’s a fair position to hold. But it is also a revealing one.
As we’ve noted numerous times in these pages, not all freshmen members of the House turned out to be Tea Party conservatives. In fact, many of them are big-government statists. One of the most jarring examples is Rick Berg of North Dakota.
Berg voted for all the big government spending bills and the debt ceiling, while opposing numerous efforts to cut spending. This, despite representing a conservative state. Yet, after just a few months of dismal service in the House, he decided that he wanted a promotion to the Senate!
Not only is he a moderate, he is also an insipid candidate and an uninspiring individual. Democrats put up their best candidate to run, and will be pumping in a lot of money. Take a look at this video interview of Berg with the Fargo Forum editorial board. After two and a half minutes of equivocation, he can’t explain why he won’t debate his conservative primary challenger, Duane Sand:
Does this look like an inspiring man we want in the Senate from a state like North Dakota?
With the Indiana primary less than a week away, it looks like Dick Lugar is in some serious trouble in his race against Madison Project endorsed Richard Mourdock. Polls are showing him slipping behind, Super PACs that supported him are pulling out, and it’s all starting to build into a narrative that Lugar’s days are numbered. Salon, that bastion of conservative thought (I kid), had an interesting article on the Lugar v. Mourdock race, and while I of course don’t agree with many of the sentiments express by the author, I thought the subtitle of the article was telling: Welcome to the Permanent Era of Tea Party Politics.
Tea partiers, far from dead, are enforcing accountability on Republican members who aren’t exactly conservative, and quite frankly, don’t exactly believe in the party platform. They’re doing that by one of the most effective accountability mechanisms out there: primarying incumbents. I’ve written about breaking the Ruling Class of longtime incumbents, but what’s taking place in Indiana is that theory in action. Of course people want to say that the Tea Party’s actions in this and other scenarios is extreme. Sorry, it’s not extreme to demand greater accountability or transparency in our government, or to expect elected officials to be responsible with government funds and to actually serve the American people.
If we really want to get this country back on the path of freedom and prosperity, we’re going to need hundreds, actually thousands, more of what’s taking place in Indiana to happen at all levels of government.
Any reader of this site or other conservative publications is well aware of the crossroads that our Republic faces. Progressives are inexorably destroying our free markets, infringing upon our rights, spitting on our values, undermining our sovereignty, and endangering our national security. Our founders fought a revolution and gave their lives for these cherished American values; that our nation be different from those tyrannical European nations. Yet, liberals want to transform this nation into a European country, devoid of freedom and a religious character.
While our fathers gave their lives for the cause, we need not go so far. We need sufficient funding and boots on the ground to elect those who will defend our values from the progressives in both parties. That is the only we will make a difference.
Let’s view this imperative through the prism of last week’s congressional elections in Pennsylvania.
Last week, there were three incumbent congressmen who were challenged in the PA primaries; two Democrats and one Republican. The two Democrats, Jason Altmire and Tim Holden, are blue dog Democrats who didn’t vote in lockstep with their party. The liberal base was furious and put up candidates who were more liberal. They put lots of money and boots on the ground into those races. They defeated both of them.
The same cannot be said for our side. SEIU-backed Republican Tim Murphy was being challenged by Evan Feinberg in western Pennsylvania. Murphy is as bad as it gets for a Republican. Feinberg is a smart conservative who worked for the Heritage Foundation, Tom Coburn, and Rand Paul. This had all the trappings of a classic puke vs. conservative setup. Yet, Feinberg failed to even come close to Murphy. Why? Because he was outspent $1 million to $70,000.
There is a simple reality at work here. While most voters complain about incumbents and negative ads, they will paradoxically continue to vote for incumbents unless they are inundated with hundreds of thousands worth of negative ads against those incumbents. Sadly, this holds true for Republican voters as well. The fact is that we will never take back our party unless we are willing to donate our time and money to those who truly stand for our values. Otherwise, the bad guys will win every time by default.
We need to move beyond reading, writing, and complaining. We need to get involved in the electoral process, or else we will never transform the Republican Party from the faint echo of statist policies that it is today.
Next Tuesday, North Carolina votes will have the chance to stop the corruption of marriage by supporting Amendment 1, which will define marriage as an institution between a man and a woman for legal purposes. According to PPP, supporters of the amendment lead opponents 55-41.
Here’s a rule of thumb: when you’re in the minority in a legislative body, but enjoy some sort of a check on the majority to lock up legislation, you never surrender your key – certainly not for a worthless promise from the majority. Unfortunately, Senator Lamar Alexander has not internalized that lesson. Evidently, he was serious when he said he wanted to resign from leadership so he can be more “independent.”
Last week, Alexander penned a joint op-ed in the Washington Post with Carl Levin advocating that Republicans relinquish the right to filibuster the motion to proceed with debate on bills. At present, the minority has the power to block debate on bad legislation through the use of the filibuster by denying Harry Reid’s unanimous consent requests, unless Democrats have 60 votes to proceed with debate. This has been an effective tool in preempting bad legislation from getting off the ground. All too often, once bad legislation is allowed to be debated, enough Republicans are enticed into supporting it, especially after they receive a worthless vote on their choice amendments.
Now, Senator Alexander wants to give away the keys to the Senate:
We propose an approach that should be useful on many pieces of legislation: If the minority members would allow the majority leader to bring a bill to the floor for a vote without the 60-vote process, the legislation would be open to all relevant amendments but not to nonrelevant amendments.
Last week’s action on postal reform shows how our approach works. The minority joined the majority in bringing to the floor legislation to resolve the U.S. Postal Service’s substantial problems. The majority leader asked for unanimous consent that all amendments to the bill be relevant. One senator objected because he wanted to offer an amendment on Egypt, a serious matter but one not related to a discussion of the Postal Service.
In a matter of just a few years at the beginning of the millennium, we succeed in adopting marriage amendments in 30 states. It looked like we were well on our way to preempting one of the greatest assaults on our values. But over the past few years, between the liberal courts, the Obama administration, and blue states adopting gay marriage, we have lost a lot of ground.
Next Tuesday, North Carolina voters will get a chance to launch a counterattack by voting for a marriage amendment on the state’s primary ballot. The language of the amendment also bans civil unions. Civil unions are one of the biggest tools of the homosexual lobby in their aggressive and officious push to redefine marriage. That’s why 19 other states have adopted a similar marriage amendment. It goes without saying that all elected Republicans in North Carolina will enthusiastically campaign for the marriage amendment, right?
Well, everyone except for freshman Renee Ellmers. Ellmers has been one of the most disappointing freshmen in the entire class. Not only did she throw in with leadership to support the debt ceiling deal and all the budget capitulations last year, she allowed herself to be used as an on-camera prop to whip other freshmen in line. Her district has been redrawn in a way that makes it dramatically more conservative, yet Ellmers has not moved rightward. Quite the contrary, she is publicly announcing that she will vote against the marriage amendment – but only because of the civil union issue, of course.
Now she has the unbridled temerity to air the following TV ad to her conservative constituents:
In what has become a familiar patterns in divisive primaries, conservative Ricahrd Mourdock has committed to backing RINO Dick Lugar if he wins the primary. Lugar has not offered to reciprocate in the event that Mourdock wins.
Do you remember that former Mississippi Senator Trent Lott was leader of the Senate Republicans on and off for a decade?
Like many Republican leaders before him that never actually believed in the tenants of the Republicans Party, Lott has become a lobbyist in his post-congressional career, feeding at the trough of big-government statism. Now, we all know that Lott has eschewed every principle of limited government during his career as a lobbyist, but he certainly would retain his strong support for our national security and American sovereignty, right?
Well, the Heritage Foundation is reporting that Lott is now lobbying for the Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST) – something he vehemently opposed while he was in the Senate. Among other things, LOST established a UN oversight board to divvy up all of the resources mined from the deep seabed and the extended continental shelf for the “common heritage of mankind.” The International Seabed Authority gets to decide how our revenues from seabed mining are redistributed to “developing” nations. Moreover, any complaint against the US brought by other member nations, which there undoubtedly would be many, must be decided by the UN authority. The institution has been around since 1982, but we have been smart enough not to ratify the treaty.
As Heritage notes, Lott had denounced the treaty as a means of creating a “U.N. on steroids” that “would undermine U.S. military operations … and impair navigational rights” by subjecting maritime disputes to U.N. authority.” Now, in his capacity as Senior Counsel for Breaux Lott, he was paid $80,000 to lobby the Senate to ratify this travesty.
I remind you one again that Lott had been GOP leader for a decade. It’s 1984 all over again.