When conservatives look for elected Republicans to stand for our values, we are not just looking for someone who might vote with conservatives when convenient; we are looking for someone who will give voice to conservatives. Hence, we are looking for leaders – people who will articulate the message, fight the conservative battles, and move the polls. We have no need for more followers, fence-sitters, and finger lickers. The recent developments in the fight to defund Obamacare serve as a quintessential example of this divide between the leaders and the fence-sitters.
After several months of hard work from Jim DeMint, Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, Tom Graves, Mark Meadows, and some of the outside groups, there is tremendous momentum behind using the budget bills to force the issue on Obamacare once and for all. Obamacare is now more unpopular than ever. It is so unpopular that Republicans are viewed as more favorable on healthcare than Democrats. This has never happened in years. As Erick noted earlier today, when the leadership void is filled, the polling begins to move.
Naturally, all of the establishment followers and fence-sitters are joining the bandwagon of fighting Obamacare on the budget bill (or “the next fight” – the debt ceiling). However, they want us to believe that they have a “smarter” plan to accomplish it. They will push to delay the law for one year or focus on some other aspect of Obamacare.
Let me submit that without the efforts of the conservative leaders, the GOP establishment followers would never be talking about fighting Obamacare in any form. They are terrified of brinkmanship – be it over defund or delay – and had no intention of ever picking this fight, even as Obamacare goes into effect next month. Their call for delaying the law is just the latest subterfuge to undermine the fight and capitulate to Democrats while concurrently co-opting the fight against Obamacare – as if they were supportive of the effort all along, albeit with a craftier strategy.
Mitch McConnell is touting his leadership in fighting Obamacare in recent fundraising letters. He has the temerity to claim he is working to defund Obamacare, even as he undermines the only effort to defund it by pressuring people off the Mike Lee letter and by echoing Democrat talking points about a government shutdown. He claims to have been the man behind uniting Republicans against Obamacare in 2009, but before the idea became unpopular he couldn’t even categorically oppose the tax on so-called Cadillac health insurance plans (aka..many people who get coverage from their work).
At present, as McConnell feigns outrage over Obamacare and pledges to fight it in the abstract, he cannot be found to comment on the only real fight – the CR. When pressed to comment on the debate, he offers some non-sequitur about the sequester cuts.
Meanwhile, Eric Cantor and Kevin McCarthy are trying to play the ‘Lucy and the football’ game once again by promising to fight Obamacare on the debt ceiling. As if we are supposed to believe they will not fear the hyperbolic warning of a treasury default, a more serious threat than a plain government shutdown. Yet, they are trying to give off the impression that they are all about fighting Obamacare and have a much better plan to do so.
So we have a situation in which Tom Graves is leading the fight in the House, along with a number of other members. House leadership is following from behind in order to undermine it. RSC chairman Steve Scalise is sitting on the fence looking to bridge the incorrigible divide between leadership and the grassroots. And Mitch McConnell is…well..acting the way he always does on contentious issues.
As we inch closer to the 2014 primaries, ask yourself if your elected Republican is a leader, a follower, or a fence sitter.