The rebellion growing in the GOP ranks that Donald Trump is tapping into has found its voice. Ben Domenech, publisher of The Federalist, watches what Republican leaders in Congress do and not what they say. And this is what he sees:
Perhaps you believe the Republican Party exists as the party of limited government and free markets. This is impossible after the past weekend, where Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell went so far as to blatantly make the lie he told his fellow Senators – that no deal had been cut with interested Democrats during an earlier debate to reanimate an entity of pure corporate welfare, the Export-Import Bank – a priority so critical he would box out all other attempts to attach amendments to what is considered a “must-pass” measure, the Highway Bill.
Perhaps you believe the Republican Party exists as a national security party, which believes in a clear-eyed trust but verify approach to dealing with our enemies. This is impossible after the past few months, where the Senate Republicans completely ceded their Constitutional duty regarding the Iran deal, putting them in the wonderful position (so politically advantageous in the realm of domestic policy) of decrying this deal as awful without being on the hook for anything that happens because of it.
Perhaps you believe the Republican Party exists as today the lone pro-life party in the United States. This cannot be possible after the weekend, where Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell blocked any attempt to force President Obama and all his fellow Senate Democrats to take a stand for or against not even the legality, but the taxpayer subsidization of harvesting organs from aborted babies. The fact that McConnell did all this after telling his GOP colleagues that he definitely wouldn’t, and the fact that Texas Senator Ted Cruz pointed this out, is a breach of decorum. Orrin Hatch will be along with a ruler shortly to rap your knuckles, you naughty boy.
Taken together, the stance of the Senate Republican caucus on these three issues reveal the utter failure of post-Cold War fusionism. The Senate Republicans have in the space of a few short months dramatically undercut their ability to be considered serious on national security, fiscal conservative, and social conservative priorities. And for what? What is worth cutting all three flimsy legs of the stool shorter? Surely it has to be something worthwhile – avoiding a government shutdown, or repealing Obamacare? Surely it must be about achieving some greater legislative goal or laying the groundwork for taking the White House in 2016?
Well, actually, the aim is to pass a Highway Bill. It is a thousand page tax and pork-laden monstrosity which does not deserve to pass in the first place, and whose failure would be greeted as a positive development for any fiscal conservative. For conservatives, the Highway Bill is a bad thing that could be the vehicle for something politically useful. For Republicans, this is not the case. The passage of a Planned Parenthood defunding amendment would set up a direct conflict with the White House over the issue, and undercut McConnell’s priority of passing a Highway Bill with an Ex-Im resurrection attached to it – two things that are not a priority at all for Republican voters, mind you, but for the corporatist constituency the Republican Party actually serves, are near the top of the list.
And that is why the Republican Party exists.
Maggie Gallagher is a senior fellow at American Principles in Action.