"A thing moderately good is not so good as it ought to be. Moderation in temper is always a virtue; but moderation in principle is always a vice."
— Thomas Paine, The Rights of Man, 1792
By Thomas Paine’s definition, there is nothing so vicious as the majority of Republican lawmakers.
The headline of a story published in Politico on November 3 declares, “GOP moderates vow to speak louder.”
Republican moderates are “fed up,” according to the story, with plummeting public approval numbers, which they attribute to the “ill-fated” efforts of Senators Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, and others to defund ObamaCare, a push that resulted in a so-called government shutdown last month.
“Ted Cruz cost the economy $24 billion” and “Ted Cruz forced the Republican Party to its lowest levels ever and in that period, made ObamaCare more popular,” Representative Peter King (R-N.Y.), shown on right, charged, as reported by Politico.
King plans to keep pressure on party leadership to squelch the “aggressive” voices that he contends are driving voters into the arms of the Democrats. The plan is catching on. Politico reports:
Republican Rep. Patrick Meehan, who like [Republican Rep. Charlie] Dent hails from a moderate Pennsylvania district, said an increased dialogue among House Republicans is already happening, and he was optimistic that those conversations would help the GOP conference show a united front in fiscal discussions with the Democratic-led Senate and the White House.
“We’re probably going to do more to talk to ourselves to try to be a little bit more unified and to put some thought into where we think we ought to be,” Meehan said. “I think people appreciate that when you eliminate yourself from negotiations, you’re operating from a position of weakness.”
When it comes to negotiating with President Obama, the GOP has done nothing more than play the role of loyal opposition, standing down when a display of real, forceful resistance could have prevented or at least delayed enactment of numerous unconstitutional, onerous, legally suspect legislation — including ObamaCare.
Not that Cruz, Lee, and others didn’t try.
For 21 hours, Cruz stood on the Senate floor, exposing the folly of ObamaCare and calling on his colleagues to vote to defund the plan altogether. At the beginning of the quasi-filibuster, the Texas freshman declared, “I intend to speak in support of defunding ObamaCare until I am no longer able to stand.”
King, Cruz’s “chief GOP antagonist on Capitol Hill,” would prefer that Cruz “keep quiet.”
Read another way, a staid member of the — as Senator Rand Paul once called it — “stale and moss covered” GOP establishment, would rather roll over for the president and violate his oath of office than speak up on behalf of the Constitution and the future of his constituents. Ted Cruz refuses, and for that he and his fellow “Tea Party Republicans” are being reprimanded, and the monied masters of the GOP are abandoning them.
Evidence of the closing of the coffers is popping up in races around the country where “middle ground” Republicans are facing potential primary challenges from candidates with a more constitutional bent. As Bloomberg reports:
Signs of the Republican Party rift between business and the Tea Party are showing up where Democrats most want to see them: in the campaign account of Michelle Nunn, daughter of four-term Georgia Senator Sam Nunn.
“The vast majority of Americans say they don’t want the government to shut down, they want middle ground,” said John Wieland, founder of John Wieland Homes and Neighborhoods Inc., who together with his wife penned checks totaling $10,400 to Nunn’s Democratic U.S. Senate bid. In the 2010 midterms, the Wielands each gave $4,800 to the Republican Senate candidate.
“Michelle understands that middle ground, and that’s why we wrote the checks,” Wieland said.
It’s a sentiment shared by some business donors from Virginia to Arkansas, and one Democrats want to spread as the parties vie for control of the Senate in the 2014 midterms.
It isn’t difficult to see why Republicans who have worked to position themselves to fill powerful seats in Congress wouldn’t want to change the status quo. Likewise, it’s easy to see why donors don’t want anything to come between their money and the votes that it has always been able to purchase.
An example of the latter threat was found in an attempt by Representative Justin Amash (R-Mich.) to stifle the National Security Agency’s surveillance.
A new study reveals that the representatives who voted against Amash’s proposal to curtail the NSA’s authority to conduct wholesale surveillance of millions of Americans received twice as much in donations from defense contractors as their colleagues who stood with Amash.
What is remarkable about the report from a partisan point of view is that the amount of money accepted from the military industrial complex was a better indicator of how a lawmaker voted than the letter after his or her name.
In fairness, the congressmen who voted to permit the NSA to continue collecting data in defiance of the Fourth Amendment didn’t sell their votes cheaply.
The funds donated by political action committees, employees, and directors of the country’s wealthiest defense contractors totaled nearly $13 million over two years.
An analysis by The New American of the information published by MapLight (based on data gleaned from OpenSecrets) reveals that a “no” vote on the Amash amendment (remember, a no vote was a vote to continue the NSA’s unconstitutional surveillance of phone records) was worth about $41,000. A representative who voted “yes,” on the other hand, could count on only about $18,700 from the defense and intelligence sector’s slush fund.
As readers may remember, the Amash amendment would have revoked authority “for the blanket collection of records under the Patriot Act. It would also [have barred] the NSA and other agencies from using Section 215 of the Patriot Act to collect records, including telephone call records, that pertain to persons who are not subject to an investigation under Section 215” of the Patriot Act.
The corporate cuckolding worked, and legislators obeyed their master’s voice: Amash’s measure failed by a vote of 205-217.
Reading the mainstream press leads one to believe that the Tea Party’s fierce, unflagging resistance to ObamaCare and other federal spending projects is costing likeminded candidates at the polls. After the November 5 elections, the Washington Post declared that the Tea Party “had some of the wind knocked out of its sails,” although admitting that “not everything that went wrong for tea party candidates was a direct result of voters’ desire to defy the movement.”
Mitt Romney told ABC News that there were a few electable Republicans, and Ted Cruz didn’t make the cut. Business Insider reported on Romney’s take of the future of the GOP:
Mitt Romney painted New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) as the standard bearer of the Republican Party going forward — even saying that if he were to win the Republican nomination for president in 2016, he could "save our party."
On NBC's Meet the Press Sunday, Romney also took a not-so-subtle jab at Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (R), a Tea Party favorite, by refusing to put him on a short-list of people he thinks are legitimate 2016 Republican contenders.
Regardless of the label, the shunning by country club Republican donors of candidates and congressmen who dare wander from the well-worn path of acceptable opposition, as well as the attacks from those who faithfully toe the line, will do more to continue propelling this Republic along the vicious cycle of moderation.
The end of the cycle will be the shredding of the Constitution one slice at a time, with the monied powers holding the knife and maintaining control of both major political parties.