The Conservative Coward Caucus

It’s a truism that whenever Republicans are in the minority in Congress, they act like it but whenever the GOP has the majority, they still behave as though they are in the minority. Power seems to embarrass them.

When I worked on Capitol Hill, I was amazed at how many various caucuses there were, particularly in the Republican Party. There was a caucus for almost everything. And to what end? All that these little cliques ended up doing was dividing the Republican Party against itself.

Because I am a Millennial, most of my friends on the Hill were Democrats. We would go out to local watering holes and shoot the breeze about whatever was afflicting Congress that particular day. Without fail, these Democrats would start mocking and belittling the feckless Republican leadership. At the time, we had just retaken the Senate and were holding strong in the House. Yet the Republican leadership in the House did not act like it was in charge. Instead, the GOP establishment made a priority of marginalizing the Tea Party representatives—the very elected officials who consolidated the Republican majority!  

And so it was no wonder my Democrat colleagues would marvel at how much mischief the Republicans let the minority get away with.

Recently, Sebastian Gorka interviewed U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) on his new nationally syndicated radio program, “America First.” Gohmert shared a story about a meeting he had in 2014 with then-House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), in which Boehner chided members of the House Freedom Caucus for being too confrontational. As Gohmert tells it, Boehner believed all the GOP had to do was to sit back and keep quiet, giving Democrats enough rope to hang themselves in the eyes of the voters. That didn’t happen. Quipped Gohmert: after a year of Boehner’s “strategy,” the Democrats had used that rope to “string up” the Republicans.

Republican leaders were very good at constructing a litany of excuses for why they could never win—despite having control over the levers of power. By the time Donald Trump won, the Republican elite was caught unawares. They had convinced themselves that nothing could stop Hillary Clinton and they all made arrangements simply to acquiesce in the wiles of the Clinton machine and the Democrats; to save their own hides while in Washington and abandon the voters who put them in office.

Trump’s election ended those plans and forced their hand. But instead of using it, the Republicans constantly complained about “that man” in the White House while at the same time pretending as though they were really doing what the voters had put them in office to do (which, of course, they weren’t).

I used to joke that the GOP should form a congressional “coward caucus.” It would be brimming with members who could concoct intricate reasons why opposing the Left was imprudent and how the right-wing was little different from the Taliban. With the election of Donald Trump, I hoped that maybe the GOP in Congress would grow a backbone at last. But, of course, they didn’t. The NeverTrump wing of the GOP in Congress did more to stymie Trump’s agenda than any Democrat could have done.

What has Republican congressional “leadership” given us since 2016? A repeal of the Affordable Care Act? A reduction in government spending? A reduction in the endless wars the country was fighting? No. They allowed for the endless Russian collusion delusion to go forward. They aided and abetted the Left in its administrative coup against the duly elected president of the United States simply because Trump wasn’t part of their club of Beautiful Losers.

With the predictable return of Democratic Party control over the House, the Republicans have resumed their preferred form of supplication at the altar of democratic socialism. The Republican House members voted the noted Paul Ryan flunkie, Californian Kevin McCarthy, as the new GOP minority leader rather than the Ohio pugilist, Jim Jordan.

At the outset of his reign as the Left’s new lovable loser, McCarthy told the press he would end the House investigations into Hillary Clinton’s malfeasance—though the investigations are far from finished. McCarthy also publicly begged Trump to end the government shutdown and to give up on the wall.

Then, the newly-elected Senator Mitt Romney (R-Utah) wrote a scathing op-ed excoriating Trump’s “lack of character,” arguing Trump was not fit to be president (well, Mitt, Trump did in one sitting what you couldn’t accomplish in two elections: he won).

To close out the week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) indicated that Trump could expect no assistance from the Senate in overcoming the deadlock over the funding of the wall and reopening the government. There were also some ruminations in the press about McConnell being unable to guarantee that Trump’s nominees will get confirmed—despite the GOP having even greater control over the Senate than it previously held.

During the French Revolution, Georges Danton urged his countrymen, “l’audace! L’audace! Toujours l’audace!” in the face of monarchical oppression. Danton understood that his revolutionary objectives could only be achieved by audacity, not cowardice. Similarly, the Republican Party is fighting a great ideological conflict. Most elected Republicans have chosen to cower in the face of Democratic Party aggression. Without a hearty dose of audacity, all will be lost.

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Photo credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

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About Brandon J. Weichert

A 19FortyFive Senior Editor, Brandon J. Weichert is a former Congressional staffer and geopolitical analyst who is a contributor at The Washington Times, as well as at American Greatness and the Asia Times. He is the author of Winning Space: How America Remains a Superpower (Republic Book Publishers), Biohacked: China’s Race to Control Life (May 16), and The Shadow War: Iran’s Quest for Supremacy (July 23). Weichert can be followed via Twitter @WeTheBrandon.href="https://twitter.com/WeTheBrandon">@WeTheBrandon.