Thursday, June 26, 2014

That Which Must Not Be Said Part 2: The Collaboration

In this recent essay, I wrote that:

Today's Republican Party continues in the pusillanimous tradition of the post-FDR party that couldn't prevent Roosevelt from winning four consecutive terms, that couldn't unseat the badly weakened Harry Truman, that presided over an ever-expanding federal government even when it had majorities in both houses of Congress. Despite the overt adulation showered upon the Gipper, what the GOP's kingmakers would really like is not a Reagan II, but a figure as attractive and eloquent as the Great Communicator who would nevertheless not dare to lay a hand on the tiller of the Ship of State -- that is, who would agree to let the "discount Democrats" rule in his name, that they might continue undisturbed in their power and perquisites.

The parade of candidates since Reagan -- two Bushes, Robert Dole, John McCain, and Mitt Romney -- should have given the game away. Not one of them was nearly as principled as Reagan about even one issue. All were part of the don't-rock-the-statist-boat Republican Establishment, whose members can't even think of opposing further federal growth or cutting back on Washington's usurped, extra-Constitutional powers without experiencing a sudden, urgent need for a change of underwear. That Establishment remains at the pinnacle of the GOP today, and is working assiduously to neuter the Ted Cruzes, the Mike Lees, and the Rand Pauls before they can upset the apple cart. They'd prefer continued hegemony by the Democrats to that great a perturbation of The Way Things Are.

Thad Cochran's use of Democrat voters in the Mississippi Republican primary, coupled to the near-unanimous support of the GOP Establishment for Cochran, coupled to one of the most slanderous, scurrilous campaigns any politician has ever run -- and against a fellow Republican, at that -- makes it clear that if anything, I understated the case.

It should be equally clear that the Democrats who helped Cochran stave off McDaniel's challenge have little or no interest in having a Republican represent Mississippi in the United States Senate. However, given the choice "between Satan and Hitler," they'll opt reliably for the latter -- and given that Mississippi is a "deep red" state, it appears they'll have their preference.

But not all is certain just yet. The anger of the conservative "base" is palpable. Innumerable voices on the Right have been raised against Cochran's tactics. For the moment, Cochran and his Establishment supporters appear to be shrugging them aside. They might find that harder to do in November.

It's no longer guaranteed that a conservative citizen will vote for a RINO Republican when the alternative is victory for a liberal Democrat. That conservative might just stay home on Election Day, especially given that 2014 isn't a quadrennial year. So Cochran might need to find a new line of work after all -- and prominent commentators on the Right, including the irreplaceable Rush Limbaugh, have said that that would be the best outcome for the country.

When you lie down with the dog, you get up with fleas, Thad old buddy. Hope you can reach all the parts that itch.

Not to be overlooked in this morass of double-dealing and crass self-interest is the GOP Establishment's willingness to risk Cochran's defeat in November. Surely the party's strategists are aware of conservative reaction against Cochran's tactics. They're not stupid enough to be absolutely confident that all those conservatives who supported McDaniel will vote for Cochran in November as "the lesser evil." They must be aware of the possibility that he'll go down in flames for lack of support from the "base."

It strikes me as probable that that possible outcome has been discussed in the GOP's back rooms...and that the kingmakers have evaluated it as preferable to having McDaniel in the Senate. After all, the squishes in the upper chamber are already exercised enough about having to deal with Cruz, Lee, and Paul. These uppity conservatives make us Old Bulls look bad! We certainly don't need more of that. It's hard enough to get the earmarks we need to keep the pork flowing to the big backers at home.

Inasmuch as the Senate Republican caucus has succeeded in blocking some odious legislation, the above might not be entirely fair. Still, one must not discount the possibility that the Cruz / Lee / Paul triumvirate is the reason -- that the Young Turks have succeeded in forcing the Old Bulls to do the right thing against their inclinations. Whatever the case might be, the frustration of the McConnells, the Grahams, and the rest at having to behave like actual Republicans is sufficiently strong for a private observer to detect. They certainly lined up behind Cochran readily enough.

Many things have been said about the Old Guard Republicans: that their interest is solely in retaining their offices; that they're more comfortable as an opposition party; that they believe it's more important to maintain Congressional "collegiality" than to press hard for a Constitutional agenda; and so forth. Any or all of the above might be true. But in the long term, what matters far more is the Overton Window.

Inasmuch as the unaligned 20% of American voters are the ones who decide the outcome of the typical election, and inasmuch as such voters are typically made uneasy by suggestions of dramatic change, a candidate's plausibility in describing his opponent's views and agenda as "radical" can make a big difference to his prospects. But dramatic changes are also anathema to those who view themselves as a ruling elite, which includes long-term office-holders of both parties. That makes collaboration between Establishment Republicans and Democrats far more likely than we who yearn for a restoration of Constitutionally limited government care to think.

November will tell us what the ruling elite's prospects really are, and whether the sub rosa collaboration of the Republican Establishment with the Democrats hypothesized above is an unpleasant fantasy or a hideous fact. The Cochran primary campaign has made the latter look more likely than not.

Stay tuned.

1 comment:

0007 said...

What's going to be fun in November is watching all those diversity democraps go back to voting for their masters while thad and company whine about repubs sitting out the election. Better yet maybe thad's pissed-on base will just return the favor and vote for the "real" democrap, hahahahaha.