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Ted Cruz’s Shutdown: Wrong War In Wrong Place?
The Establishment Conservative Movement has been compared to a gun turret, capable of hitting targets directly in front of it, but unable to shift to hit anything else. Unfortunately, this understates the case. Like a dysfunctional laser, the Beltway Right has an incredible ability to take on precisely the fights it can't win—while ignoring the critical issues like immigration that could save the movement and the country. To adopt General Omar Bradley’s famous phrase, it fights the wrong war, at the wrong place, at the wrong time, with the wrong enemy.
Right now, the “conservative wing” of the Republican Party has shut down the federal government in what is largely conceded to be a futile effort to stop Obamacare and repeal the 2012 Presidential Election. However, at the same time, the party leadership is preparing to dispossess its white base by sneaking in Amnesty through the back door.
The last ditch effort to stop Obamacare began with a filibuster from Texas Senator Ted Cruz, complete with allusions to Nazism, Star Wars references, and a reading from Green Eggs & Ham. Cruz's effort electrified many American conservatives, who are already talking about him as a presidential candidate.
This led to Cruz’s remarkable political coup: in effect, becoming the de facto Speaker of the House, as John Boehner and the House Republicans followed his lead, demanding concessions from the White House or else they would shut down the government. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and President Obama called their bluff, and as a result, the Republicans may be on the wrong side of a public relations disaster.
This is especially embarrassing because we have seen this movie before. Newt Gingrich famously shut down the government when trying to win concessions from President Bill Clinton. The result: a catastrophic loss of support for the Republican Revolution of 1994 and Slick Willie's political resurrection.
The parallels go further. The Republican takeover of the House of Representatives in 1994 was significantly powered by a host of patriotic National Question concerns, including illegal immigration (California’s Proposition 187 also passed in 1994) and anti-white discrimination (California’s anti-Affirmative Action Proposition 209 was clearly headed for an overwhelming victory in 1996). But while Republicans were happy to benefit from these issues, they did absolutely nothing about them once they won office. Instead, Newt Gingrich, in a comically doomed attempt to win black votes, allied with black Republican congressman JC Watts to ensure that Affirmative Action remained untouchable.
Similarly, archetypical Beltway conservative Paul Ryan is using the government shutdown as an opportunity to scheme for amnesty. [Where Has Paul Ryan Been During the Latest Shutdown Debate? By Matt Fuller, RollCall, September 27, 2013] Eric Cantor is also holding meetings on immigration, while RNC head Reince Priebus prepared for a joint appearance with DNC chief Tim Kaine on the Treason Lobby television network Telemundo.
However, the real problem is Ted Cruz. He has been remarkably silent during the Amnesty/ Immigration Surge battle. Though he has expressed opposition to Amnesty, he has done so in a muted form obviously calculated not to upset any of the party's major donors. Instead, he has vowed to raise a “grassroots army” to confront Obamacare, even though the law is already a fait accompli. In contrast, he has been notably silent about raising any such army to save America from another attempt at Amnesty.
The likely result is the worst possible scenario. The Republicans will fail in their attempts to win any concessions from the White House. More importantly, they will inherit all of the blame for the government shutdown, and this will bleed into the 2014 mid-term elections. As a result, the Republicans will fail to expand their majority in the House and fail to retake the Senate, giving the Obama Administration the advantage as it heads into its final two years.
The real tragedy here: the historic American nation, which has largely entrusted its political fortunes to the Republican Party, will receive the blame for any upcoming defeats.
We cannot deny that race too is an added factor to the fathomless sense of entitlement felt among the GOP far right. You saw it in birtherism; in the Southern GOP’s constant outrageous claims of Obama’s alleged treason and alliance with Islamist enemies... in the endless race-baiting from Fox News and the talk radio right… [The Nullification Party, The Dish, October 1, 2013]
And of course, MSNBC's explanation is that the shutdown is being motivated by “hate.” [‘Serious Racism Here’: Ed Schultz Insists GOP’s Shutdown Showdown Motivated by ‘Hate’, by Noah Rothman, MediaIte, September 27, 2013]
They are all correct…but not in the way they think. All of these smears reflect that fact that the GOP has by default become the Generic American Party, the party of the Historic American Nation, which happens to be white. Any hope of stopping mass immigration largely remains with the Republican Party, as among Democrats immigration patriotism has been all but totally suppressed by the Leftist ideological faction that controls the party. Accordingly, Republican political defeat likely spells disaster for immigration patriots.
Immigration patriotism as an issue has no powerful constituency within the Republican Party—except for primary voters as a whole. But this is not a decisive advantage because, among the conservative base, immigration is simply one more issue, behind other priorities such as guns, abortion, or health care. Therefore, #StandWithCruz is largely a kind of Kabuki theater, a way of defining conservative “militancy” through largely irrelevant concerns.
While Cruz's look-alike Pat Buchanan was once the gold standard for “authentic” conservatism, today conservatism relies on culture war rhetoric to defend economistic policies. The result: the Republican Party receives all of the political baggage of being tied to inherently evil people like white families and Southerners without any of the benefits of actually helping these constituencies. Indeed, the GOP actually works to destroy American whites, while simultaneously being condemned as a “white nationalist party.”
When culture does enter into Conservatism Inc. calculations, it is often a cynical use of Christian Right rhetoric that does little but confirm Leftist stereotypes. The disaster of Todd Akin's comments on abortion and rape, the perennial debates about evolution in science classes, or the black would-be Lieutenant Governor of Virginia's comments on yoga leading to Satanic possession were hardly edifying spectacles. Furthermore, though conservative Christian voters actually tend to support immigration patriotism, their leaders are doing their best to sever the connection between their churches and their communities.
One way out would be for a conservative leader to make the connection between the conservative demographic base and a pro-American policy program. There are glimpses of this in recent “third party” recently identified by Sarah Palin:
I dare say we already have a third party. We have the liberal party, the GOP machine, and then we’ve got the good guys,” she told Neil Cavuto on Tuesday on Fox News, while Cruz was crossing the hour and a half mark of speaking on the Senate floor. “That is the third party. Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, Rand Paul … Those are the players in the party whom I will support.”
Sarah Palin pushes 3rd party of ‘good guys’, By Jose Delreal, Politico, September 24, 2013
But Palin is still talking about Cruz and his allies in the government shutdown struggle. This is a minority of a minority, and, despite all the populist rhetoric, simply the militant wing of the already existing Beltway Right.
More to the point, Conservatism Inc. is incapable (by design) of thinking critically about demographic, cultural, and even economic concerns that don't fall into the pat answers about “limited government” and “the Constitution.” A movement which has spent the last few decades systematically purging original thought is hardly likely to reform itself.
Contra Sarah Palin, and even many in the conservative grassroots, the problem is not “RINOs” or the “Establishment” – it is the governing ideology of the Establishment Conservative movement itself. Like a drowning man, the Beltway Right seems determined to doom even the patriots who are trying to save it from its own stupidity.
The historic American nation has to figure out how to detach itself from a movement seemingly comfortable with long-term suicide as long as it can get another quarter of donations from corporate lobbyists and the grassroots viewers watching Fox News.
I have argued that the answer may have to come from what I've started calling “Pete Wilson Republicans” – socially and fiscally moderate Republicans who can use concerns about crime, multiculturalism, and mass immigration to push narrative-changing policies that speak to swing voters.
However, such leaders would have to figure out a way to defeat Beltway Right organizations like Freedomworks (once headed by Open Borders corporate lobbyist Dick Armey) that are determined to identify conservatism with a self-defeating economics-only ideology.
Instead of holding themselves up as the “true conservatives,” immigration patriots may need a new tactic. Common sense border security, protecting American jobs, and advocating for working Americans is a moderate message that can win elections. Conservatism Inc. no longer can.
The only question is whether there is a leader willing to take up the cause of the Radical Center—and the historic American nation.