Republicans hate race. Race has been bad for the GOP ever since Republicans passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. See, Lyndon Johnson was a Democrat, and he proposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Most Democrats violently opposed the bill. But most Republicans supported it. The bill passed, of course, and it survived many Supreme Court challenges.
The Civil Rights Act’s aim was to wring racist behavior out of American life. The bill tried to finish what the Civil War started and complete tasks left undone by Reconstruction. No one believed a law could end racism, but a law could clamp down on behavior that hurt blacks in material ways.
So Republicans championed both the Civil War and the Civil Rights Act. Now you understand why African-Americans see Republicans as their best friends in Washington. Oh, wait.
And that’s why Republicans hate race. Republicans fought a war to end slavery. They punished former slave owners for generations. They passed a huge Civil Right law in 1964 over endless filibusters from Democrats Strom Thurmond and Robert Byrd. Yet over 90 percent of blacks vote Democrat.
Republicans are like a beta male husband. They say they like shopping. They make good money. They say all the right stuff. They pretend to like Real Housewives shows. They shave their chests. Then their wives run off with the HVAC repairman across the street.
That makes Republicans hate race. That’s why Republicans like John Kasich and Marco Rubio and even Newt Gingrich get all lathered up whenever Trump mentions Hispanics or Muslims. Republicans don’t understand the psychology of race. They follow a simple rule: when race comes up, say nice things about black people and pretend you didn’t hear the question. Oh, and if it’s a Hispanic question, say something nice about the Latino Bush kid. Then mention how distraught you are that Muhammad Ali died, just in case.
Republicans hate the truth about race, because they actually know the truth. But they’ve imposed rules on themselves that prohibit them from speaking the truth. The truth about race scares the hell out of Republicans. But the truth will set you free.
Trump breaks the Republican rules on race. He doesn’t pander to Muslim judges or Hispanic judges or anybody else. He treats everybody the same, insulting Muslims and Hispanics, Irish, and Norwegians. His attacks focus on the individual regardless of race, sex or religion. He’s an equal opportunity insulter.
Every thinking person knows it’s possible for Trump to get an unfair trial from a Muslim judge. Everyone knows, too, that he could get an unfair trial from a German or Irish judge. A lot of people have axes to grind on Trump, and there are many, many unfair judges.
When Trump gives honest, accurate answers to questions about Muslim judges, Republicans panic. “He told the truth! Who authorized that man to tell the truth?”
But the truth will set you free.
The truth is, Democrats have almost destroyed African-Americans with damaging policies that deny people the dignity of work. Everybody wants to work, and work is essential to thriving. But Democrats won’t let blacks work, and Republicans are too beta-male to say it. And it’s possible for a Muslim judge to treat a white billionaire unfairly. Unfairness is a human trait, not an Anglo trait.
But Republicans hate it when you tell the truth and when you treat everyone the same. So do Democrats.
A couple weeks ago, the blog Progressives Today ran an attack piece on Eric Greitens for two of his donors (link). The piece generated of lot angst and fury on the right side of social media.
Turns out the story was pretty shoddy journalism.
Progressives Today didn’t bother to look at the Pritzkers’ other donations or the military museum they founded. If they had, they’d know that Jennifer N. Pritzker (formerly James N. Pritzker) of Chicago distributes donations pretty equally between parties, while Jennifer’s cousin Anthony Pritzker donates freely and exclusively to Republicans, at least since 2012.
Election Cycle 2016 Donations of Jennifer N. Pritzker of Chicago, IL via CampaignMoney
Election Cycle 2016 Donation of Anthony Pritzker of Santa Monica, CA via CampaignMoney
While I’m not too hip on some of the Republicans on the list, this is not the campaign contribution list of a “clear leftist agenda” as the blog states.
My friend Scott Oppelt mentioned his complaint that the GOP has so many great candidates all at once. Why can’t they be spread out over 20 years?
Great question. History being what it is, we can’t spread them across time, only across government. So this week’s poll is a little fun.
You must fill the next White House cabinet using only the current candidates for President. You do not know who the President or Vice President is, so assume it’s none of the current candidates. My choices are below. If you don’t want my votes to taint yours, take the survey before scrolling
Because this question is complicated, I can’t embed it into this page. But have fun.
We can now stop calling the crony capitalists and their legislative puppets RINO. They are the TRUE Republicans. It’s their party; a lobbyist bought it for them, not for us. They own it. We are the impostors, the fakes, the interlopers into an intimate mating dance between the masters of manipulation and the TBTF banks and corporate overlords.
Step back. Take a breath.
We Had It Backwards
I understand why you think the Roy Blunts and Thad Cochrans of the world are the impostors. I used to think so, too. I read the Republican platform. I listened to the Republican speeches. I read the Republican position papers. And mostly I agreed.
Then I watched the Big Republican Names–the Establishment–go out day after day and do the opposite. Or, more often, the Big Republicans would slither between the carefully crafted text of its documents to a position that felt comfy and consistent. To them, at least.
Do you know what “is” is?
When I saw their inconsistencies–what others less charitable than I might call “hypocrisies”–I said, “Wait a minute. That’s not the Republican way! We don’t grant favors to donors. We don’t take one person’s property and give it to someone with more clout. We play referee and let the players decide the outcome of the game.”
But when I railed against Republican inconsistencies, I was forgetting an important lesson–a lesson I learned from my mom and dad and the Dominican Sisters at Epiphany of Our Lord Catholic Grade School, God rest its soul. I forgot that words don’t matter. I forgot this most valuable lesson:
We are what we do consistently.
Yes, I believe in lex orandi, lex credendi: the law of praying [is] the law of believing. But it only works if we pray a lot and let the prayers work their magic. It doesn’t work if we pray with bad intent. We can stop the magic of prayer. And if we pray for two minutes a day and sin for 20 hours, we become the sin, not the prayer.
Identifying Marks of a Republican
So what do the Big Republicans do consistently? They grant favors for friends with power and money. Doing favors for powerful and rich friends is what it means to be Republican. It’s what they’ve become through consist behavior. A party exists to preserve and grow its own party, not to save the country.
That’s the whole issue in the Export-Import Bank case. Eric Cantor and his myrmidons in the House kept the Ex-Im alive to help their rich and powerful friends at Boeing and Caterpillar.
And it’s the issue with guys like Senator Cochran. Thad Cochran, every day, finds ways to take money from people in other states and give it to voters in Mississippi.
And then there’s the Missouri Republican legislators grant $800,000,000 in benefits to donors on the last day of the session.
True Republicans take from everybody and give to the rich and powerful. It’s not what they say; it’s what they do. (Tom Delay, anyone?)
We who work for the Tea Party and Campaign for Liberty and all the other groups who fight for level playing fields and the rule of law and Constitutional limits to power–we’re the weirdos. We’re deviants who violate the spirit of Republicanism.
Again, it’s an easy mistake to make. Many of us remember Reagan. Many of us studied Goldwater. We all read William F. Buckley. And we assume that Republicanism is what Reagan, Goldwater, and Buckley stood for. But it wasn’t.
Like us, Reagan, Goldwater, and Buckley were political deviants. They violated the spirit of Republican Party law. They may have influenced the party’s platform, but the platform is only words. The Party is the sum of its deeds, not the sum of its glittering generalities.
How to Change the Party: Leverage
Can we change the party? Sure. But it takes a long time. And we need leverage. And the party has to want to change.
We’ve tried using primaries as a lever, but that’s like David playing Goliath’s game. Primaries are what Republicans and Democrats do best. They invented the system, for God’s sake; do you really think you’ll beat them at their game? Hell, no.
Tea Party Inc. (FreedomWorks, Tea Party Express, Tea Party Patriots) are good people and all, but they operate just like the Chamber of Commerce. They try to beat the Establishment at the Establishment’s game, and they get their asses kicked almost every time.
Maybe Reagan and Buckley could commandeer the party now and then, but Reagan and Buckley were kinds of geniuses. We’re not. At least, I’m sure as hell no genius.
We are Davids, and Davids fight a different game if they want to win. Davids don’t rush Goliath with a boastful yell. They find a new weapon, new tactics, new fields of battle. Or they repurpose old ones.
Political party survival depends on having a large block of voters it can take for granted. People who vote for the party no matter what. People who lie say terrible things about the party and its leaders, then go out and vote for that party anyway.
For Democrats, it’s African-Americans. The Democrats can do or say anything and still get 90% of the black vote. Anything at all.
For Republicans, conservatives and conservitarians serve the role of sycophant. No matter how badly the GOP violates our principles, we’ll vote Republican because the Democrats are even worse.
A sycophant sucks up to someone in power to gain an advantage or favor. Conservatives, libertarians, and blacks have been sucking up to Republican and Democrat power for decades. Do we get favor? No. We get scraps, pats on the head, and kicks in the teeth.
But what if the sycophants de-sycophantify? What if the abused people of both parties say, “screw this?” What if the taken-for-granted plebeians wake up and realize that we have more in common with other plebeians than we have in common with either of the two Big Parties?
Then David fractures Goliath’s freakishly big skull with a rock, and Goliath collapses in a heap.
And then David better be prepared to run things well, because David will soon be king.
You can be a RINO or you can be David, but you can’t be a Republican. Not now, anyway. It’s a closed club.
You know how reckless and tone-deaf Obama is about Army deserters? Missouri’s House and Senate Republican leaders are just as clueless and irresponsible about money.
Yes, I said it: the Missouri Republican legislature is about as conservative and principled as Susan Rice on a Sunday talk show.
By going on a votes-for-cash spending spree on the last day of the General Assembly, the House and Senate handed Jay “Idiot” Nixon a PR prize worth its weight in pork.
I’d itemize the garbage that our Republican legislators crammed into the budget, but Jay Nixon already did it for me, as quoted in The Missouri Times:
“While this Friday free-for-all will benefit a select few special interests, its far-reaching fiscal impact has thrown the budget dangerously out of balance,” Nixon said. “From special breaks for fast food restaurants to power companies, the only thing these giveaways have in common is that they were not accounted for in either the state budget or in the budgets of the cities, counties, and fire districts they would affect. By going on a $776 million special interest spending spree, members of the legislature have broken their own budget, and I’m prepared to fix it.”
Jay Nixon will veto those outrageous giveaways, and I support that veto.
This Is How Majorities Are Lost
Think no one cares about the Missouri budget? Think again.
“What the hell are those guys doing in Jefferson City?” he said. “It’s like a bunch of Tom Delays.”
BOOM! The idiotic spending and special favors that helped bring down the GOP majority in Congress in 2006 has infected Missouri Republicans now. And people know it.
Corruption Knows No Party
Missouri has about three fiscal conservatives in the Senate. Maybe a handful in the House. The free market folks in the Senate have some power to enforce principled fiscal responsibility. They’re outgunned and under-appreciated, but they do what they can. They’re likely to block a veto override on their own party’s folly.
The House is a different story. Because of House rules, members can either sell their votes to the highest bidders, as House leaders often demand, or they can sit out their sentences in feeble obscurity. In the Republican House, money talks and principle walks.
A friend of mine told me a story about his conversation with a former Republican State Representative. The Rep listed all the great pork projects and special tax breaks he’d managed to shove through for friends and donors. My friend was appalled.
“How is that different,” my friend asked, “than the Democrats doling out welfare for votes? How is what you’ve done not transferring wealth from one citizen to another?”
The Rep looked perplexed, as if my friend had asked, “since when is two plus two four?”
The Rep took a breath and said, “The difference is, we spread the money around to the right people.”
That’s the arrogance of power among Jefferson City Republican “leaders.”
They’re In It For The Wrong Reasons
Last year at a lobbyists’ reception for the Missouri House GOP contingent, a former Republican staffer (turned lobbyist) told a story.
He referred back to a time a decade or more earlier, when the GOP was struggling to take and hold the Legislature. A new class of Republican freshmen gathered in Jefferson City for orientation. Someone asked the group what their goals were in politics.
“One said he hopes to be Speaker,” the lobbyist said. “Another said Governor.” Some laughs. “One even said ‘President.'”
The speaker paused for effect. “Then someone said, ‘a hundred and nine elephants.'”
Pop the champagne! The crowd goes wild! The Republicans assembled went ridin’ into the bar, a-whoopin’ and a-stompin’. “A hundred and nine elephants! That’s a good one.”
Does it bother you that not a single member of that freshmen class of Republicans in the Missouri House expressed an ambition or vision that bigger than himself?
Wouldn’t you expect at least one member of every Republican class would say “make Missouri great?” Or “freedom?” Or “fairest tax state in the country?” Or “help my district?” Or “keep Washington off our backs?”
Nope. Not a one. Apparently, the Missouri Republican House members have no room for duty, responsibility, or altruism. Only for cynical self-interest. Their motto should be, “What’s in it for me?”
Reagan Never Left the Democrat Party
Before you bring up the 11th Commandment, consider this:
When Ronald Reagan made his famous speech on behalf of Barry Goldwater in 1964, the Gipper was still a Democrat. Endorsing the conservative Republican Goldwater over his own party’s sitting President was the ultimate act of betrayal.
But Reagan never saw it that way. “I didn’t leave that other party,” Reagan would say. “They left me.”
As a Republican, Reagan was just as willing to call out and undermine errant members of his own party. The 11th Commandment Brigades conveniently forget that Reagan ran against fellow Republican President Gerald Ford in 1976. Reagan’s remarkable challenge nearly toppled the sitting President at the convention in Kansas City. Reagan’s challenge further damaged Ford’s grip on the White House and undoubtedly contributed to Ford’s loss to Jimmy Carter in November. (Here’s a link to CSPAN’s great retrospective on the 1976 GOP Convention, beginning with Senator Paul Laxalt of Nevada naming California, Texas, Georgia, and MISSOURI as the four states supporting Nevada’s nomination of Reagan in compliance with convention rules.)
For Reagan, principle came before party. While I don’t know this for a fact, I have a strong suspicion that, were Reagan a member of that Missouri House freshmen class, his answer to the question “what do you hope to accomplish” would have been more visionary than “self-aggrandizement.”
Where Do Principled Conservatives Go Now?
Now that our nearly veto-proof Republican majority in Jefferson City has made Jay Nixon look like a statesman by comparison, where do principled conservatives go? Where do libertarians (with a lower-case “L”) go?
Every time Republicans in JC sell out to Prostitutes in Business Suits, free market conservatives rip another GOP bumper sticker off their cars. Every time a Republican Senator schemes into law a benefit for his own family, another libertarian-ish Millennial turns away. Every time the GOP tells us what a great thing China Hub (under whatever name) will be for Missouri, a small business owner loses faith in the American Dream.
Here it is 2014, an election year. Normally, I’d be gearing up to Beat. The. Democrats. But my heart’s not in it this year, if you want to know the truth. Why beat Democrats if Republicans will only borrow and tax to help their donors? Why knock doors and design Twitter GOTV campaigns if Missouri’s Republicans renew the Export-Import Bank of Boeing? Why work for a party that doesn’t even want our help? Or a party that takes us for granted the way the Democrats do African-Americans? Why support cronyism?
After the rush of that first Tea Party, I thought we were building a coalition to focus on the proper role of government–free markets, fiscal responsibility, constitutional limits, rule of law. Instead, the Republicans we’ve elected to represent us in Jefferson City and Washington have, by and large, reverted to big government establishment practices that reward their friends at the expense of the people.
America needs an Anti-Establishment Party. The Republican Party moved in that direction from Goldwater through Reagan. But, as Jack Kemp warned, with George H. W. Bush’s election, the Reagan Revolution ended.
The Republican Establishment Rejected the Tea Party
The Establishment and the Tea Party
When the GOP lay on its deathbed after the 2006 and 2008 elections, the Tea Party gave the Republican Party a heart transplant. The beast roared back to life, sweeping the 2010 election. Then, as is so common with transplants, the host rejected the new organ.
I am still on a mission to build and support an anti-establishment party. It could still be the GOP, but it’s no longer my job to reform the Republicans. They’re old enough and rich enough to reform themselves.
My job is, as a cell in this viable heart, to find a qualified recipient–a party that will accept the principles on which our republic was founded.
Goldberg’s piece also exploded the myth of “pro-business” way too many conservatives believe. Conservatism isn’t pro-business, it’s pro-market. I’ll let Jonah explain:
Just to clarify, the difference between being pro-business and pro-market is categorical. A politician who is a “friend of business” is exactly that, a guy who does favors for his friends. A politician who is pro-market is a referee who will refuse to help protect his friends (or anyone else) from competition unless the competitors have broken the rules. The friend of business supports industry-specific or even business-specific loans, grants, tariffs, or tax breaks. The pro-market referee opposes special treatment for anyone.
BOOM! In one paragraph, Goldberg destroys that myth that pro-business equals pro-market. In fact, the two are mutually exclusive.
So how do you tell the difference between a pro-market conservative and pro-business Republican? You’re about to get your chance.
The Export-Import Bank Lights Up the Rats
The Export-Import Bank symbolizes pro-business. The bank provides sweetheart deals to businesses who donate lots of money to politicians. The Ex-Im bank will go away in September unless Congress reauthorizes it.
Any Republican who votes for (or trades his or her vote for) re-authorization of the Export-Import Bank exposes himself as a crony capitalist who puts himself and his political career ahead of good policy and free markets.
GOP politicians can’t have it both ways anymore. An economic system that simply doles out favors to established stakeholders becomes less dynamic and makes job growth less likely. (Most jobs are created by new businesses.) Politically, the longer we’re in a “new normal” of lousy growth, the more the focus of politics turns to wealth redistribution. That’s bad for the country and just awful politics for Republicans. In that environment, being the party of less — less entitlement spending, less redistribution — is a losing proposition.
The Export-Import Bank isn’t the only tattletale of pro-business cronyism. The Missouri Republican legislature is pretty much a sea of cronyism. Every GOP legislator who supports Medicaid expansion, China Hub, Obamacare health insurance exchanges, and red light cameras practices crony capitalism.
Democrats, of course, believe wholeheartedly in crony capitalism. They want the state and business to meld into one. (And a police state runs through it.) Republicans, on the other hand, like to preach from Hayak’s gospel and quietly sing from the corporatism hymnal.
Republican Hypocrisy Turns Off Millennials
The Millennials represent the largest generation in American history at 79 million members. Millennials are the future of elections for the next 20 years. The oldest Millennials are 32, the youngest about 10 or 12. By 2016, the youngest will be 12 to 14 and the oldest 34.
When Republicans preach free markets but legislate to benefit GOP donors through the Export-Import Bank, Millinnials ask, “how stupid do they thing we are?” Jonah Goldberg notes this, too.
Also, for the first time in years, there’s an organized — or mostly organized — grassroots constituency for the market. Historically, the advantage of the pro-business crowd is that its members pick up the phone and call when politicians shaft them. The market, meanwhile, was like a bad Jewish son; it never called and never wrote. Now, there’s an infrastructure of tea-party-affiliated and other free-market groups forcing Republicans to stop fudging.
If the GOP hopes to regain the White House or the Missouri Governor’s Mansion, it better decide soon whether it’s the party of free markets or the party of crony capitalism.
As Jonah Goldberg said, they can’t have it both ways. Republicans in Washington and in Missouri will either live up to the promise of their rhetoric or slide down the Waste Management dump truck into the ash heap of history.