Tuesday night was a shellacking — a big, good old-fashioned, glorious shellacking. At the national level, the voting populace definitively rejected Obama-era reactionary progressivism as the sclerotic, intellectually vapid, and more generally failed stain on the American political conscience that it is. However, now that Republicans control the entire Congress and begin the work of trying to construct a legislative agenda — either to meaningfully enact common-sense bills or simply to present a legislative contrast in advance of 2016 — the onus is even more on conservative activists to watch GOP congressional leadership like a hawk.
Though the Republican Party in 2014 ran on a rather substance-less platform that might charitably be called simply “anti-Obama,” we ought still delve a bit deeper into the more granular policy details of what Republican leadership has vowed to do over the past five years. First and foremost, naturally, is the systematic “repeal[ing] and replac[ing]” of Obamacare. Less discussed, but still very much a part of the party’s 2012 presidential platform, was a repeal of Obamacare’s repugnantly Statist “pass the law to find out what’s in it” cousin, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. [mc_name name=’Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’R000570′ ]-esque Medicare reform, comprehensive individual income tax reform, comprehensive corporate tax reform and a shift toward “territorial” taxation, auditing the Fed, putting the federal budget on track to balance, REINS Act-style regulatory streamlining, ending market-distorting alternative energy subsidies, finally securing the border — these are all policies that have either explicitly or implicitly been very much a part of the Republican agenda since the rise of the Tea Party movement in 2009, or at least since the party retook control of the House in the historic 2010 midterms.
Now, the reality is that Barack Obama is still the President, and that the legislative filibuster remains a tool through which soon-to-be MINORITY Leader [mc_name name=’Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’R000146′ ] can block most legislation. But the legislative prerogative is now exclusively in the hands of Republican Party congressional leadership, and regardless of the obvious truism that a hapless President cost his totalitarian party this election much more so than Reince Priebus and nationwide Republicans won it, it is incumbent on Republican leadership to do something even in the absence of an obvious governing mandate. Specifically, however, conservative activists must watch Republican congressional leadership to ensure that the pursuit of conservative governance is not in any way whatsoever diluted by some misbegotten notion that Republicans were somehow elected on Tuesday to “compromise” with an egregiously flawed President and an insipid political party whose priorities for the nation invariably range between unhinged anti-constitutionalism, lawless amnesties to appease their lawless base, feigning the role of savior in the faux “war on women” (someone go ask Mark Uterus…err, Udall, about how that worked out), and hooking more citizens (and non-citizens!) onto the mother’s teat that is an unrepentant and recalcitrantly unreformed post-New Deal progressive government.
Now that the GOP controls Congress, quite simply, we activists need to ensure that party leadership does not misinterpret the election results as implying that the nation is tired of “gridlock” — a term oftentimes disingenuously used to excoriate the inevitable “ambition…counteracting ambition” that James Madison famously described in Federalist No. 51 as being intrinsic to American constitutionalism, and which Justice Scalia has repeatedly identified over his years on the federal bench as structurally securing Americans’ individual liberty far more effectively than any of the Bill of Rights amendments might otherwise hope to do. We need to hold leadership accountable to do their very best to follow through on years of promises: we may not be able to repeal Obamacare with Obama in office, but as [mc_name name=’Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’L000577′ ] argues, Republicans can use the reconciliation process to pass a budget including full repeal in order to force Senate Democrats to take a vote and force a presidential veto. Speaking of Senator Lee’s “conservative reform agenda,” how about Republicans finally begin in earnest to crack down on incestuous crony capitalism? Defund the Ex-Im Bank. End Obamacare’s pernicious guarantee of bailouts for insurance companies, and end the onerous medical device tax — all while consistently reinforcing the prerogative, up to and including 2016, that this dreadful law ought be repealed in toto. Meaningfully attempt 1986-style comprehensive tax reform that systematically lowers rates and removes K Street-centric cronyist loopholes. End market-distorting alternative energy subsidies. Attempt to neuter Dodd-Frank by, at minimum, stripping away its institutionalization of Too Big To Fail and attempting to repeal the awful Volcker Rule provision. Immediately stop the President’s kamikaze philandering with the Ayatollah and institute new sanctions on the Islamic Republic of Iran. Begin to more strenuously audit DOD for waste whilst simultaneously beginning to slowly undo Obama’s incredibly dangerous and incredibly myopic reduction of the U.S. Navy to its smallest size since the Woodrow Wilson administration.
More generally, watch GOP leadership closely to ensure that it does not misinterpret the Tuesday election results as a protest against “gridlock” and therefore a reason to compromise away principles. It is incumbent upon grassroots activists to ensure that leadership fully appreciates the urgency in beginning to legislatively follow through on the past half-decade’s worth of promises, now that the party controls the full Congress.