This year’s turbulent primary season, which hit a crescendo this month with David Brat’s upset victory over House majority leader Eric Cantor in the Republican primary for Virginia’s 7th Congressional District, is an opportunity for conservatives to reflect. Why have our political leaders struggled so much to capture the enthusiasm of the conservative grassroots? Why did Republicans fail to win power in the last national election, despite wide distaste for the president’s signature legislation? Is the Tea Party’s agenda the solution to that failure or the problem? To many observers, the answers are both obvious and discouraging: The messages most appealing to the conservative base do not resonate with the general public, and the messages most likely to sway swing voters do little to energize conservatives. The movement is trapped in a double-bind. This view is wrong.
Though it was reported as news, the left’s 2014 blueprint isn’t novel – it is the same strategy they’ve employed with varying degrees of success for decades. The New York Times providesa helpful summary:
House Democrats are reassessing their electoral strategy based on a major internal research project that shows their candidates stand a better chance when they portray Republicans as unsympathetic to the economic situation of working Americans while protecting the wealthy.
If “protecting the wealthy” is code for corporate welfare, then these so-called strategists may want to check some congressional voting records. America’s political left – from Blue Dog Democrats to radical progressives – tend to be among the most supportive of corporate welfare.
Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO)Heritage ActionScorecardRep. Cory GardnerHouse Republican Average61% has taken the lead on expediting the approval process for liquified natural gas (LNG) exports. This may seem like a small issue, but Gardner’s Domestic Prosperity and Global Freedom Act would address the natural gas permitting backlog that has been preventing America from taking full advantage of one of the most promising domestic sources of energy. That would create jobs here at home and, as many others have pointed out, help undermine Russia’s strategy of energy extortion abroad.
Read the rest to see how Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK)Heritage ActionScorecardRep. Jim BridenstineHouse Republican Average93%, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)Heritage ActionScorecardSen. Ted CruzSenate Republican Average95%, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)Heritage ActionScorecardSen. Ted CruzSenate Republican Average95%, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT)Heritage ActionScorecardSen. Mike LeeSenate Republican Average98% and Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS)Heritage ActionScorecardRep. Mike PompeoHouse Republican Average88% are changing the energy dynamics within the Republican Party.
The lessons of the 2012 election cycle are plain in the history books for all to see. When Republicans keep their heads down, worry about “not making ourselves the issue,” and stick to safe, silent stump speeches, the vociferous left has everything it needs to reframe the debate on the terms upon which it prospers.
Conservatives must put forward an anti-cronyism, anti-corporate welfare agenda that uplifts all Americans, not just the elites. Such an agenda would resonate with Americans’ deep-seated frustration with Washington, which is a well-oiled machine for those powerful enough to hire an army of lobbyists to descend on lawmakers, staff and bureaucrats.
There are many obvious planks to a pro-America, anti-Washington platform that can be built over the next six months.
Now, the very people who pushed New START during the reset are now pretending to be hard-liners on Russia. Sen. Mary Landrieu (D–La.) says, “Being sanctioned by President Putin is a badge of honor.” Sen. Mark Warner (D–Va.) claims to be “deeply concerned with Russia’s actions, which are in clear violation of existing treaties and agreements.” Perhaps most ironic is Shaheen, who now advocates sending “strong signal[s] to Russia that we do not accept their illegal disregard for international norms and agreements.”
All three voted in favor of New START, though, just as President Obama requested. Their tough talk in hindsight doesn’t do much to advance American foreign policy or keep Americans safe. It does, however, demonstrate why Americans are tired of Washington: politicians on both sides cover up weak action with bold talk.
At Heritage Action, we believe in accountability. Politicians may know how to say the right things at the most convenient times, but too few are willing to take the votes that matter or apologize for the mistakes they’ve made. It’s our job to draw attention to the inconsistency–and to remind Americans the next time some legislators try to push half-baked policies through Congress for the sake of bipartisan cooperation and progress.