Despite the fact that the Speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner, had given the Republicans’ bargaining chips to the Democrats as an early Christmas present, and that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is acting as if he had accepted a dare to prove that he could fold faster than a White House lawn chair, Republican control of Congress is different than in it had been in the past: this time around, conservatives prepared for disappointment.
Except for denial on the part of Republican, not conservative voters, there was no reason to expect career Republicans to act any different than they had between 2001 and 2007. In fact, conservatives are accustomed to hearing from GOP politicians only in the form of robocalls when election season rolls around. What is perhaps most infuriating is how members of both the House of Representatives and the Senate have settled for what is best described as the fundamental transformation of leadership.
The individual Republican members of the House are no different than career Republican voters: they are afraid to throw their votes away. Whereas Republican voters believe that a vote for an independent candidate and/or vote against a “most electable” candidate is a wasted vote, GOP Congressmen are afraid of the political repercussions of casting a vote against the correct candidate for the position of Speaker.
Those Congressmen think according to their individual needs. And while those who placed the correct vote had been rewarded by not being punished, the end result is complacent representation in the Speaker’s chair, and subordinates who have proven to act in political self-preservation.
As for the Senate, the absence of Republican leadership has its roots in the 2014 Kentucky Senatorial primary race.
When Kentucky Senator Rand Paul decided to endorse incumbent fellow Senator McConnell over Matt Bevin in the 2014 primary race, could Senator Paul have imagined that as Senate Majority Leader, Mr. McConnell would have transformed the Senate into the house of horrors that conservatives had feared? If Mr. Bevin had won the 2014 election, how would different leadership in the Senate address the issues, such as funding for executive amnesty, that present leadership chooses to cave in on?
Senator McConnell was, and still is no different than other Republican Senators, such as John McCain when showing his contempt for self-proclaimed conservatives. Senator Paul’s supporters are those same self-proclaimed conservatives. Expecting to pacify both the party elite and his supporters is impossible. However, the results of such an experiment will follow him in 2016, as either a candidate for re-election, or in the presidential primary race.
While John Boehner and Mitch McConnell dismiss conservatives as nuisances who resort to panic voting during elections, they cower in fear in front of a special group of voters: the voters who exist only as random numbers that Karl Rove draws on his white board during his many appearances on the Fox News network; the same “voters” that predicted the huge losses as a result of “Ted Cruz’s shutdown” of the federal government in 2013.
Facing the possibility of a non-shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security, Senator McConnell has taken it upon himself to prevent such a disaster as the previous shutdown. After all, the Great Government Shutdown of 2013 – the brainchild of Texas Senator Ted Cruz (a fact that elitist Republican politicians, not Democrats, insisted on pointing out before the 2014 election) — resulted in such a massive electoral defeat for the Republicans that, uh, nevermind.
The GOP elites’ fear of confrontation and losing power within the party is so strong, that if the Republicans held every seat in both houses of Congress, as well as the White House, the likes of Mr. Rove would appear on every Fox News talk show explaining how the GOP will have a better chance of challenging the Democrats, after the next election. Democrats create problems, while Republicans perpetuate them by not rescinding them when given opportunities.
If the actions, or lack thereof on the part of Congress in this young year are any indication of the results of the 2016 election, a safe assumption is that a conservative President may have little more than a minority-class Republican Congress to work with, while the Democrat majority won’t accommodate the minority party as well as the Republicans are accommodating the Democrats at present.