“We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.” – Benjamin Franklin, 1776.
As perhaps America’s quirkiest and most practical Founding Father Ben Franklin is remembered for many sayings, but this quote could be his most famous. Franklin spoke the words just prior to signing the
Declaration of Independence, knowing full well the dangers of waging war against the Mother Country – the only options for he and his fellow patriots were win or die. On paper the colonies’ ragtag army and flotilla of privateers was little match for the time-tested land and sea forces of the world’s premier empire, Great Britain, but the men who signed the Declaration hedged their bets and sacrificed everything nonetheless.
Today the political situation isn’t nearly as dire and grave as it was all those years ago. Elected officials serving in the nation’s capital won’t be tried for sedition or sent to the gallows unless they do something truly egregious (and even then, who’d convict them in today’s divided political environment?). The circus surrounding Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation is certainly heinous but doesn’t quite rise to the level of high treason (but should it?).
Still, there’s something to be garnered from Franklin’s simple wisdom – stick together or lose everything. Naturally the saying fits today’s Republicans in Congress, a collection of pols having a heck of a time agreeing on a course going forward. They’d better come together soon – or November’s midterms could get ugly.
Dan K. Eberhart wrote at The Washington Examiner, “[M]idterms can be tricky, and low turnout can foil the best-laid plans of candidates and their consultants. For some candidates, that will mean locking arms with the president, who remains popular in Florida, Arizona, Iowa, Ohio, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Utah, Nevada, and North Carolina. Others will need to establish their own identities and narratives to connect with voters.
“Democrats want to make the midterms a referendum on the president, whose overall popularity remains surprisingly steady at around 41 percent – though it’s 84 percent among Republicans. But the truth is that the tenure, and therefore the impact, of many members of Congress far outlasts that of a single president.
“Trump’s tenure in office has been a productive period for Republicans. They may have the occasional disagreement over style, but the president has championed traditional GOP priorities like cutting taxes and improving national security. The past year and a half have shown that congressional Republicans and the president need each other and that voters need them working together.”
Pretty much everything Eberhart wrote is correct. According to the Real Clear Politics average Trump’s approval rate has fluctuated between roughly 42 percent and 44 percent for the past six months. This absence of big moves up or down has come despite Democrats and their media pals’ constant drumbeat of negativity on Trump. Every time there’s a smidge of something considered controversial (and everything around Trump draws attention) media talkers blow it up as the first omen of ultimate doom.
You’re forgiven if you’re wary of all the dire predictions about Trump. None of it’s ever come to fruition; no single tweet, no ill-timed statement, no administration staffer leaving, no tell-all books, no hint of instability abroad, no questioning Trump’s math on Puerto Rican hurricane deaths, no hysteria over a trade war with Canada, Europe or China… nothing’s caused conservatives and Republicans to lose faith in Trump’s ability to lead. Many insist they still have issues with his personal decorum and manners but he’s the president of the United States, not the manager of your church’s favorite charity.
Presidents are charged with executing laws and keeping the country safe from external threats (which includes illegal alien invasions) as well as making judicial appointments and ensuring the massive federal bureaucracy runs smoothly. Of course, the president now sets policy direction too – a duty Congress was originally meant to assume. But by all appearances Trump is handling the job remarkably efficiently, and judging by his measured social media tone over the whole Christine Blasey Ford/Brett Kavanaugh media fiasco, is “behaving” himself as well.
Trump’s engaged in a giant game of “I’m rubber, you’re glue – whatever you say bounces off of me and sticks to you” with his Democrat opponents and the “enemy of the people” media since day one of his administration.
So why do Republicans continue to lag behind in generic ballot polls a little over a month ahead of Election Day? Theories abound but it’s clear they lack a single coherent message to inspire the base and attract independent voters at the same time. Democrats are unified in their hatred and “resistance” to Trump – but what about Republicans? They can’t even join together to announce, as a party, that they support the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh.
In the past few weeks alone several Republican senators (Collins (ME), Murkowski (AK), Flake (AZ) and Sasse (NE)) issued public statements throwing doubt as to their ultimate vote on Kavanaugh. Why is there any question here? Is it because of Blasey Ford’s ridiculous “I can’t remember anything else about it but it was definitely Brett Kavanaugh who assaulted me 36 years ago” accusation? (Note: It came to light last week “Chrissy” had quite a reputation as a party girl in the wild Dewey Beach (DE) scene in the 80’s.)
Or is it because Kavanaugh won’t vow to uphold Roe v. Wade or commit to allowing states and municipalities to ban firearms? For these dawdling naysayers, what exactly is preventing them from swearing publicly to back Kavanaugh? At least in Corker’s and Flake’s case it isn’t because they’re worried about retaliation from voters – they’re “retiring” this year.
It’s semi-understandable how Democrats hesitate to put themselves on the record. There are a ton of angry leftist voters who’d be alienated by a Democrat ignoring the media noise and voting to confirm Kavanaugh. In some sense they’re damned if they do, damned if they don’t.
Republicans share no such political roadblocks. What’s the holdup?
Further, to be successful this year Republicans must nationalize the election. As conservative leader Richard Viguerie pointed out last week, no Republican will ever outbid a Democrat in the “free stuff” category. Dispensing government goodies are local matters, the type Democrats dominate because they’ll give away the store just to get one more lazy slouch off the couch and into the voting booth. Republicans will win favor by pounding national security, making the tax cuts permanent and building the dang border wall.
Meanwhile, GOP Senate candidates should use the Democrats’ heinous treatment of Kavanaugh to say, “See, it really DOES make a difference to have a Republican controlled Senate.”
This is all common sense — which explains why there’re still a good number of Republicans listening to the swamp consultant class and talking about local issues. At least here in my district Rep. Barbara Comstock attacks her opponent for being weak on immigration. Good for her!
But there are many, many positive national issues to pitch to voters. As the party holding majorities in Congress and Trump in the White House Republicans have a golden opportunity to tout and take credit for the good things going on across the fruited plane – improvements directly tied to policy switches since Obama. Needless to say, the GOP should have done more since taking over everything last January, but there’s still plenty to be proud of.
Foreign policy is one area. Marc A. Thiessen wrote at The Washington Post, “The list of good foreign-policy moves goes on. Trump has taken a strong stand against the narco-dictatorship in Venezuela, and his administration even considered supporting coup plotters seeking to remove the Maduro regime. He strengthened NATO by getting allies to kick in billions more toward the alliance’s collective security. He declared war on the International Criminal Court, which purports to have jurisdiction over U.S. soldiers and citizens even though America is not a signatory to the treaty creating the ICC.
“Liberals might not like any of these developments, but long-standing policy goals of conservative internationalists are being achieved. There may be chaos in the Trump White House, but so far at least the chaos is producing pretty good results.”
Not all conservatives (including this one) agree on some of the administration moves Thiessen wrote so glowingly about in his op-ed (such as Trump’s decision to keep American troops in Syria), but in totality Thiessen is correct. Trump’s foreign policy, however it is classified, is working. If anything, Trump adheres to a philosophy of “keep your friends close but your enemies closer.”
The president has taken more than his share of criticism – and endured a stupid baseless “collusion” investigation – because of his eagerness to establish personal relationships with some of the world’s most notorious bad guys. In his 21 months in office Trump has said nice (and harsh) things about Russia’s Vladimir Putin and cheese-munching NORK dictator Kim Jong-un. He’s also met with both of them, and in the case of Jong-un, Trump’s the first American president to talk face-to-face with a North Korean strongman.
The result? The world’s a safer and more peaceful place. Peace is a good thing, right? Trump’s rebuilding of American fighting forces also brought about a number of positive benefits. By keeping American military commitments to a minimum, the budget isn’t blown; by threatening to strike back hard (which he did in Syria) Trump keeps enemies on their toes.
Will it lead to a large Bush-like war? Not likely. Trump understands this would be a disaster for his presidency. The quickest way for the president to lose his staunchest defenders’ support would be to send American men and women overseas to die unnecessarily fighting an enemy that usually isn’t distinguishable from the friendlies.
And, as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pointed out last week, the United States is still quite generous to the world’s most threatened. Pompeo wrote at the USA Today, “America’s commitment to the most vulnerable also extends well beyond our immigration system. We are putting a new focus on increasing assistance to refugees and other displaced people as close to their home countries as possible. We can house, feed and provide medical care for hundreds of thousands more refugees closer to their homes, and do so more rapidly, than we could possibly do here in the U.S. We are also prioritizing the safe and voluntary return of refugees to their home countries when conditions permit — a solution that most refugees prefer.
“President Donald Trump pledged to keep the American people safe by more carefully vetting those who want to come to our country, while also prioritizing processing cases of those who are already here. I believe we can achieve the ideal of continuing to assist the world’s most vulnerable people without losing sight of our first duty: serving the American people. We are, and continue to be, the most generous nation in the world.”
How best to help the world’s refugees is yet another point of contention between the two parties. Seeing a large and potentially loyal pool of benefits-needy voters, Democrats’ policy can be summed up as “Let ‘em all in! Open up that golden door! We don’t care if you’ve been vetted, if you say you’re a refugee that’s good enough for us!”
Republicans believe in helping whenever and wherever feasible and yes, assisting the most vulnerable to stay in their home countries is the soundest solution for all involved. Naturally the media reports on only one side of the story — the part about these people from war-torn parts of the world being oppressed and threatened — but what about the assimilation problems here in the U.S.A. as well as the tremendous costs involved with bringing refugees here and providing basically everything for them?
Compassion often means removing incentives for people to risk leaving their homelands to emigrate to the U.S. when it’s in their own best interest to improve their lives right where they are. Millions of people around the world have waited years to leave for America to try their hand at the American dream. Why encourage refugees who would otherwise prefer to stay home to come here? Doesn’t it make sense?
The best solutions to problems aren’t always the ones that cost the most money, something Washington politicians have a hard time realizing. Republicans would accomplish a lot more if they’d cast off their phony “bipartisan” appearances and act more like Democrats…and hang together.