Published October 25, 2013
From listening to the banal musings of inside-the-beltway Republicans, one would come away with the impression that we are just six Senate seats away from curing all our political and policy ills.
These wizards of smart believe that we must refrain from engaging in risky policy battles until after the next election, when presumably, we stand to win back the Senate.
To that end, they accuse some conservative groups of working to undermine a Republican majority, both by engaging in “unwinnable” fights and by working to replace incumbent Republicans instead of focusing exclusively on growing our numbers from 45 senators to 51.
This line of thought obfuscates an inconvenient truth about the state of the Senate GOP Conference, and prevents Republicans from working to build an enduring conservative majority in the Senate.
Conservatives need to confront the fact that Democrats enjoy a defacto 75-80 seat-governing majority on many critical issues.
While House Republicans united to fight Obamacare, besides Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Mike Lee (R-Utah), almost every Senate Republican worked to sabotage the effort.
Instead of using their filibuster-strong minority to enable House Republicans to jam the Democrat-controlled Senate with legislation, Senate Republicans empowered Senator Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to jam the House.
This occurred both at the beginning of the showdown and at the end when McConnell undercut Republicans by unilaterally surrendering everything to Senator Reid.
Only 19 Republicans19 Republicans voted to block Harry Reid from reinserting Obamacare funding into the Continuing Resolution (CR) on September 27th, and only 16 Republicans voted to block the final surrender.
Some Republicans claim we shouldn’t use this past legislative battle as a litmus test because many members supposedly sided with us in theory, but opposed the strategy. However, they fail to notice how many Senate Republicans give “aid and comfort” to Democrats on an array of liberal priorities.
When Democrats proposed a 1,200-page amnesty bill, which would have hampered future enforcement and perpetuated lawlessness, 14 Republicans voted for the bill. A number of others were sympathetic to the cause, and only refrained from voting for final passage after their phone lines melted down. And once again, just like with the ObamaCare votes, not a single Democrat crossed party lines on the issue.
Senate Republicans also agreed to confirm all of Obama’s cabinet appointees for his second term with very little dissent. They passed a massive Farm/Food Stamps bill with 20 Republican votes.
In February, Republicans helped pass a radical iteration of the deceptively named Violence Against Woman Act by a 78-22 margin, enabling Democrats to jam the Republican-controlled House.
In March, 27 Republicans27 Republicans voted for a job-killing Internet sales tax.
In almost all of these instances, every Democrat, even those from red states, stood firm with their party leadership.
Meanwhile, Republican leaders such as Mitch McConnell (R-Ky,), John Cornyn (R-Texas), and John McCain (R-Ariz.) either publicly or privately sided with the Democrats, creating a surrender faction of the Republican Party.
Often, they even refused to whip for the conservative position, leaving conservatives with no leverage or power.
The vacuum of leadership has allowed the McConnell-Cornyn-McCain faction to continuously grow and even include many members from solid conservative states.
Worse, the default Democrat super-majority is not only built upon reliable GOP votes, but GOP voices. During the immigration debate, numerous Republican senators worked hand in glove with Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) both on and off the Hill to coordinate messaging and attack conservative opponents of amnesty.
During the ObamaCare showdown this past month, one after another, Republican senators went to the Senate floor to denounce fellow Republicans and echo Harry Reid’s talking points.
When the Senate was voting on the nomination of Todd Jones (of Fast and Furious fame) for director of the ATF, Senator McCain was seen on C-Span whipping up votes for Democrats.
Taken as a whole, roughly half of the GOP conference could be counted on to join the united Democrat caucus on many major policy issues.
With recent history in mind, does anyone really think that a bare minimum Senate majority built upon the same members – with Mitch McConnell as leader – would produce better results for conservatives?
Even in the best-case scenario, Democrats would have a robust and united filibuster-strong minority in 2015. The 20-25 Republicans who empower Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer this year will continue to do so after 2014.
Furthermore, Senator McConnell has already promised that he will never engage in brinkmanship to force a fight over Obamacare.
Given that Obama will still be president even after the midterm elections, a McConnell-led majority built upon quicksand will never force even partial delay of the law.
The only way to build an enduring majority is to elect game-changing conservatives, especially in our most conservative states, to join the ranks of the few unwavering fighters.
Much like the Democrat majority, which is built upon solid progressives from blue states and surreptitious progressives from other states, an enduring conservative foundation with a clear and united message can challenge the Democrats and actually win.
But that would require changing the status quo and challenging the current failed leadership. That would require courage and principle.