The more I talk to my fellow conservatives and read articles posted by conservatives, it seems to me that there is a revolt brewing within the Republican Party. Conservatives feel that the Administration and the Congress have abandoned them and their concerns.
Peggy Noonan writes in the Wall Street Journal:
What political conservatives and on-the-ground Republicans must understand at this point is that they are not breaking with the White House on immigration. They are not resisting, fighting and thereby setting down a historical marker — “At this point the break became final.” That’s not what’s happening. What conservatives and Republicans must recognize is that the White House has broken with them. What President Bush is doing, and has been doing for some time, is sundering a great political coalition. This is sad, and it holds implications not only for one political party but for the American future.
The White House doesn’t need its traditional supporters anymore, because its problems are way beyond being solved by the base. And the people in the administration don’t even much like the base. Desperate straits have left them liberated, and they are acting out their disdain. Leading Democrats often think their base is slightly mad but at least their heart is in the right place. This White House thinks its base is stupid and that its heart is in the wrong place.
President Bush has torn asunder the conservative coalition.
For almost three years, arguably longer, conservative Bush supporters have felt like sufferers of battered wife syndrome. You don’t like endless gushing spending, the kind that assumes a high and unstoppable affluence will always exist, and the tax receipts will always flow in? Too bad! You don’t like expanding governmental authority and power? Too bad. You think the war was wrong or is wrong? Too bad.
But on immigration it has changed from “Too bad” to “You’re bad.”
The president has taken to suggesting that opponents of his immigration bill are unpatriotic — they “don’t want to do what’s right for America.” His ally Sen. Lindsey Graham has said, “We’re gonna tell the bigots to shut up.” On Fox last weekend he vowed to “push back.” Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff suggested opponents would prefer illegal immigrants be killed; Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez said those who oppose the bill want “mass deportation.” Former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson said those who oppose the bill are “anti-immigrant” and suggested they suffer from “rage” and “national chauvinism.”
Why would they speak so insultingly, with such hostility, of opponents who are concerned citizens? And often, though not exclusively, concerned conservatives? It is odd, but it is of a piece with, or a variation on, the “Too bad” governing style. And it is one that has, day by day for at least the past three years, been tearing apart the conservative movement.
No one has been a stronger supporter of President Bush than I have. When he stepped up in September of 2001 and took charge, he earned my undying gratitude for his courage, his leadership and his determination to prevent another attack on our country. I thought that, at last, we have a true conservative in the White House – another Ronald Reagan. I thought going into Iraq was the right thing to do to stabilize the Middle East and reduce the danger to our allies.
I have supported President Bush all along, even though I did not agree with his policy on illegal immigration. Even though I didn’t agree with his “big government” stance and the growth in non-military spending, I felt that he deserved our support because he appointed conservative justices and was a proponent of freedom and conservatism. In the past year or so, however President Bush, and a substantial number of our Republican Congressmen and Senators, have chosen to abandon the conservative base.
Craig Shirley writes in Townhall.com:
In his now infamous “Malaise” speech in 1979, Jimmy Carter demonstrated a fundamental misunderstanding of his country and his countrymen. It was the tipping point for his presidency.
Last week, President Bush had his own malaise moment when he attacked a large segment of the American people and insinuated they were ignorant about the immigration bill he has fashioned with Ted Kennedy.
The American people don’t like to be criticized by their presidents, especially when they are at 28 percent approval, either then or now. This clash is a “Panama Canal moment” for the GOP.
The bar fight over the newest immigration “compromise” bill is the Gotterdammerung for the party and the conservative movement. The outcome will determine what direction the GOP will take and whether it will once again be consigned to minority status for a generation.
It is not the first time there has been a trial separation and eventually a divorce between conservatism and Republicanism. In 1971, conservatives gathered at Bill Buckley’s home in New York. The meeting was called because Richard Nixon had supported his aide, Pat Moynihan’s proposal for a federally-mandated guaranteed household income. That tore it for conservatives.
Nixon had already instituted wage and price controls, appointed liberals to his Administration, was cozying up to the Soviets and was about to betray America’s longtime ally, Taiwan, to recognize instead Red China. “Tricky Dick” tricked conservatives into supporting him in 1968 and then immediately set about to break every promise he’d ever made to the Right.
The group called themselves the “Manhattan Twelve” and signed a manifesto announcing their “Declaration of Independence” from Nixon and his Republican Party. They hence decided to forget about the losers that made up what was left of the GOP and focused instead on building a political movement. At this, they were very successful and were guided only by their principles.
The conservative movement all through the late 1970’s led the GOP around by the nose, on the Panama Canal treaties, on SALT II, on ERA, on tax cuts, on opposition to Jimmy Carter and support for Ronald Reagan. The GOP of the 1970’s was clueless, just as their fancy counterparts are of the current Republican Party.
True conservatives are now faced with this choice once again. In order to save their ideology, should the conservative movement declare it’s independence from the Bush Administration and the GOP? The arguments for doing so are compelling.
The immigration bill, most conservatives believe, is a sellout of everything they hold dear – the rule of law, justice, freedom and sovereignty. But rather than listen to the grassroots American people, the GOP elites are listening intently instead to their master’s voice, corporate America.
Conservatives do not understand the difference between someone breaking and entering their home and someone breaking and entering their country.
Despite “Bushophant” Michael Gerson’s derivative arguments calling conservatives bigots, the rule of law still means something to most people in this country.
The GOP’s arrogance is doubly insulting because they know how the grassroots feels or at least should. All they have to do is listen to Laura Ingraham, Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity, read any of a dozen conservative columnists, websites and blogs to know what conservatives think about this bill.
The outrage over this betrayal is evident. Republicans across the board seemed astonished when the first quarter FEC reports came out and all told, the Democratic presidential candidates out-raised the Republicans by $25 million. The party committees are lagging behind their Democratic counterparts, as reported in the Washington Times.
There is no mystery. Conservatives, who voted in droves for Democrats and against Republicans as a protest vote last November are now voting with their pocketbooks. The sleeping giant of the conservative movement has been awakened and if the immigration bill passes, one can imagine an organized effort to shut down all grassroots conservative money from going to any GOP party committee and instead, direct their hard-earned dollars to legitimate conservative groups.
Some may argue a breakup is premature citing the War on Terror, tax cuts and the appointments of Samuel Alito and John Roberts to the federal bench.
George W. Bush campaigned on supporting tax cuts and appointing conservatives to the courts and conservatives expected him to keep his promises. However, if the White House had had its way, Alberto Gonzales and Harriet Meiers would have been appointed instead. It was conservatives who demanded conservative judges and the White House unhappily went along. As my father used to say, you don’t get medals for not robbing banks. You’re supposed to not rob banks.
Traditional conservatives are patriots and are thus conflicted over the war in Iraq. They support and honor the American GI Joes and Janes, but deep down, they believe this is not their war or at least that it has been managed poorly. They may have sung a few hymns, they never joined the choir.
The war has held together the unhappy shotgun marriage of the elitist GOP and the populist conservatives, but the D-word (“divorce”) is now on the lips of many in the movement.
The arguments for at least a trial separation are legion; from steel tariffs to federal mandates to the states educational systems, to the biggest entitlement since the Great Society to the corruption of Republican “lawmakers” and Enron and the GOP K Street walkers, whose main job is to convince GOP lawmakers into doing un-Republican things. Arrogance, ignorance, the unseemly pursuit of power over principles and betrayal of conservatism are the hallmarks of the current GOP.
The elites in the Republican Party are in denial about this, as they are about last November. But this is not surprising. Republicans have made a cottage industry out of denial, in 1960 when JFK won, in 1992 when George H. W. Bush lost and August 9, 1974…the day Nixon resigned.
The American people, and especially conservative Republicans, are opposed to the immigration bill supported by some Republican Congressman and Senators, and the Administration. Republicans generally believe in fair play and the rule of law. To reward those who break our laws by coming here illegally, without requiring those lawbreakers to pay their back taxes, or to have to earn the right to stay here is the height of hubris. To not have a serious plan to protect our borders is foolishness, and is a major security risk to this country.
President Bush is well-meaning, and I am sure he is concerned about his legacy. He wants support of the American people, and feels that by appealing to the left in the immigration issue he will have a favorable legacy. I don’t know the motivations of Senators John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Jon Kyl and other Republican Senators who have betrayed their conservative base.
Pat Buchanan, in an essay on Townhall.com, says
“I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical.”
So said Jefferson. It would appear to be time again for a little rebellion in the Grand Old Party — this time against George II.
For President Bush has attacked his own loyalists for a lack of patriotism. “If you don’t want to do what’s right for America,” he said of opponents of the Bush-Kennedy immigration bill, “if you want to scare the American people, what you say is the bill’s an amnesty bill. That’s empty political rhetoric, trying to frighten our citizens.”
But if the 12 million to 20 million illegal aliens are instantly legalized, what other term is there to describe that than amnesty?
Not only are opponents not doing “what’s right for America,” their courage is in question: “People in Congress need the courage to go back to their districts and explain exactly what this bill is all about. The fundamental question is, will elected officials have the courage necessary to put a comprehensive immigration plan in place.”
For, worse than a crime, this attack on his base was a blunder. The people Bush is savaging — columnists, commentators, talk-show hosts, congressmen fighting his bill — have been the front-line troops in his fight to sustain funding for the war.
Bush’s attack on the motives and character of conservatives tell us it is Goldwater-Rockefeller time again — time to split the blanket. Conservatives need to declare their independence of Bush and to repudiate Bushism as the philosophy of their movement and party.
While Bush’s court appointments, setting aside the Harriet Miers mess, have been superb, while his tax cuts have been Reaganite, while his stand on traditional values is courageous, beyond is a vast wasteland as far as the eye can see.
His free-trade zealotry has led to five straight record trade deficits. While America’s economy is now growing at under 1 percent, China’s is booming at 10 percent. His refusal to defend and secure the borders is well-nigh impeachable. His compromises with Teddy Kennedy on No Child Left Behind have doubled the size of the Department of Education without any appreciable gain in test scores. His “Big Government Conservatism” marks him as his father’s son, not Reagan’s heir. In Ward Connerly’s courageous battle against reverse discrimination, the Bushes have all been on the other side.
This, of course, begs the question, is there a true conservative candidate in the Republican Party who the conservative base can identify with and who can win the Republican primary and bring conservative values to the White House in 2009? Will the conservative base in the Republican Party stay loyal to this Administration? Anyone care to comment?