An Open Letter To Jonah Goldberg – RE: The GOP and Donald Trump
Posted on September 7, 2015 by sundance
A few days ago I took the time to read your expressed concerns about the support you see for Donald Trump and the state of current conservative opinion. Toward that end I have also noted additional media present a similar argument, and I took the time to consider.
While we are of far lesser significance and influence, I hope you will consider this retort with the same level of consideration afforded toward your position.
The challenging aspect to your expressed opinion, and perhaps why there is a chasm between us, is you appear to stand in defense of a Washington DC conservatism that no longer exists.
I hope you will indulge these considerations and correct me where I’m wrong.
On December 23rd 2009 Harry Reid passed a version of Obamacare through forced vote at 1:30am. The Senators could not leave, and for the two weeks previous were kept in a prolonged legislative session barred returning to their home-state constituencies. It was, by all measures and reality, a vicious display of forced ideological manipulation of the upper chamber. I share this reminder only to set the stage for what was to follow.
Riddled with anxiety we watched the Machiavellian manipulations unfold, seemingly unable to stop the visible usurpation. Desperate for a tool to stop the construct we found Scott Brown and rallied to deliver $7 million in funding, and a “Kennedy Seat” victory on January 19th 2010.
Unfortunately, the trickery of Majority Leader Harry Reid would not be deterred. Upon legislative return he stripped a House Budgetary bill, and replaced it with the Democrat Senate version of Obamacare through a process of “reconciliation”. Thereby avoiding the 3/5ths vote rule (60) and instead using only a simple majority, 51 votes.
Angered, we rallied to the next election (November 2010) and handed the usurping Democrats the single largest electoral defeat in the prior 100 years. The House returned to Republican control, and one-half of the needed Senate seats reversed. Within the next two election cycles (’12 and ’14) we again removed the Democrats from control of the Senate.
Within each of those three elections we were told Repealing Obamacare would be job #1. It was not an optional part of our representative agreement to do otherwise.
From your own writing:
[…] If you want a really good sense of the damage Donald Trump is doing to conservatism, consider the fact that for the last five years no issue has united the Right more than opposition to Obamacare. Opposition to socialized medicine in general has been a core tenet of American conservatism from Day One. Yet, when Republicans were told that Donald Trump favors single-payer health care, support for single-payer health care jumped from 16 percent to 44 percent. (link)
With control of the House and Senate did Majority Leader Mitch McConnell or House Speaker John Boehner use the same level of severity expressed by Harry Reid to put a repeal bill on the desk of Obama for veto? Simply, NO.
Why not? According to you it’s the “core tenet of American conservatism”.
If for nothing but to accept and follow the will of the people. Despite the probability of an Obama veto, this was not a matter of option. While the method might have been “symbolic”, due to the almost guaranteed veto, it would have stood as a promise fulfilled.
Yet you speak of “core tenets” and question our “trust” of Donald Trump?
We are not blind to the maneuverings of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and President Tom Donohue. We are fully aware the repeal vote did not take place because the U.S. CoC demanded the retention of Obamacare.
Leader McConnell followed the legislative priority of Tom Donohue as opposed to the will of the people. This was again exemplified with the passage of TPPA, another Republican construct which insured the Trans-Pacific Trade Deal could pass the Senate with 51 votes instead of 3/5ths.
We are not blind to the reality that when McConnell chooses to change the required voting threshold he is apt to do so. Not coincidentally, the TPP trade deal is another legislative priority of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Yet you question the “trustworthiness” of Donald Trump’s conservatism?
Another bill, the Iran “agreement”, reportedly and conveniently not considered a “treaty”, again we are not blind. Nor are we blind to Republican Bob Corker’s amendment (Corker/Cardin Amendment) changing ratification to a 67-vote-threshold for denial, as opposed to a customary 67 vote threshold for passage. A profound difference.
Yet you question the “ideological conservative principle” of Donald Trump?
Perhaps your emphasis is on the wrong syllable. Perhaps you should be questioning the “ideological conservative principle” of Mitch McConnell, or Bob Corker; both of whom apparently working to deny the will of the electorate within the party they are supposed to represent. Of course, this would force you to face some uncomfortable empirical realities. I digress.
Another example – How “conservative” is Lisa Murkowski? A senator who can lose her Republican primary bid, yet run as a write-in candidate, and return to the Senate with full seniority and committee responsibilities?
Did Reince Preibus, or a republican member of leadership meet the returning Murkowski and demand a Pledge of Allegiance to the principles within the Republican party?
Yet you question the “allegiances” of Donald Trump?
Perhaps within your purity testing you need to forget minority leader Mitch McConnell working to re-elect Senator Thad Cochran, fundraising on his behalf in the spring/summer of 2014, even after Cochran lost the first Mississippi primary?
Perhaps you forget the NRSC spending money on racist attack ads? Perhaps you forget the GOP paying Democrats to vote in the second primary to defeat Republican Chris McDaniel. The “R” in NRSC is “Republican”.
Perhaps you forget. We do not.
Yet you question the “principle” of those who have had enough, and are willing to support candidate Donald Trump.
You describe yourself as filled with anxiety because such supporters do not pass some qualified “principle” test? Tell that to the majority of Republicans who supported Chris McDaniel and found their own party actively working against them.
Principle? You claim “character matters” as part of this consideration. Where is the “character” in the fact-based exhibitions outlined above?
Remember Virginia 2012, 2013? When the conservative principle-driven electorate changed the method of candidate selection to a convention and removed the party stranglehold on their “chosen candidates”. Remember that? We do.
What did McConnell, the RNC and the GOP do in response with Ken Cuccinelli, they actively spited him and removed funding from his campaign. To teach us a lesson? Well it worked, we learned that lesson.
Representative David Brat was part of that lesson learned and answer delivered. Donald Trump is part of that lesson learned and answer forthcoming – yet you speak of “character”.
You speak of being concerned about Donald Trump’s hinted tax proposals. Well, who cut the tax rates on lower margins by 50% thereby removing any tax liability from the bottom 20% wage earners? While simultaneously expanding the role of government dependency programs?
That would be the GOP (“Bush Tax Cuts”)
What? How dare you argue against tax cuts, you say. The “Bush Tax Cuts” removed tax liability from the bottom 20 to 40% of income earners completely. Leaving the entirety of tax burden on the upper 60% wage earners. Currently, thanks to those cuts, 49% of tax filers pay ZERO federal income tax.
But long term it’s much worse. The “Bush Tax Cuts” were, in essence, created to stop the post 9/11/01 recession – and they contained a “sunset provision” which ended ten years later specifically because the tax cuts were unsustainable.
obama_delivers budget_The expiration of the lower margin tax cuts then became an argument in the election cycle of 2012. And as usual, the GOP, McConnell and Boehner were insufferably inept during this process.
The GOP (2002) removed tax liability from the lower income levels, and President Obama then (2009) lowered the income threshold for economic subsidy (welfare, food stamps, ebt, medicaid, etc) this was brutally predictable.
This lower revenue higher spending approach means – lower tax revenues and increased pressure on the top tax rates (wage earners) with the increased demand for tax spending created within the welfare programs. Republicans focus on the “spending” without ever admitting they, not the Democrats, lowered rates and set themselves up to be played with the increased need for social program spending, simultaneously.
Is this reality/outcome not ultimately a “tax the rich” program?
As a consequence what’s the difference between the Republicans and Democrats on taxes? All of a sudden Republicans are arguing to “broaden the tax base”. Meaning, reverse the tax cuts they created on the lower income filers? This is a conservative position now? A need to “tax the poor”? Nice of the Republicans to insure the Democrats have an atomic sledgehammer to use against them.
This is a winning strategy? This is the “conservatism” you are defending because you are worried about Donald Trump’s principles, character or trustworthiness.
Here’s a list of those modern conservative “small(er) government” principles:
• Did the GOP secure the border with control of the White House and Congress? NO.
• Did the GOP balance the budget with control of the White House and Congress? NO.
• Who gave us the TSA? The GOP
• Who gave us the Patriot Act? The GOP
• Who expanded Medicare to include prescription drug coverage? The GOP
• Who created the precursor of “Common Core” in “Race To the Top”? The GOP
• Who played the race card in Mississippi to re-elect Thad Cochran? The GOP
• Who paid Democrats to vote in the Mississippi primary? The GOP
• Who refused to support Ken Cuccinnelli in Virginia? The GOP
• Who supported Charlie Crist? The GOP
• Who supported Arlen Spector? The GOP
• Who supported Bob Bennett? The GOP
• Who worked against Marco Rubio? The GOP
• Who worked against Rand Paul? The GOP
• Who worked against Ted Cruz? The GOP
• Who worked against Mike Lee? The GOP
• Who worked against Jim DeMint? The GOP
• Who worked against Ronald Reagan? The GOP
• Who said “I think we are going to crush [the Tea Party] everywhere.”? The GOP (McConnell)
And, you wonder why we’re frustrated, desperate for a person who can actually articulate some kind of push-back? Mitch McConnell and John Boehner are what the GOP give us? SERIOUSLY?
Which leads to the next of your GOP talking points. Where you opine on Fox:
“Politics is a game where you don’t get everything you want”
Fair enough. But considering we of questionable judgment have simply been demanding common sense, ie. fiscal discipline, a BUDGET would be nice.
The last federal budget was passed in September of 2007, and EVERY FLIPPING INSUFFERABLE YEAR we have to go through the predictable fiasco of a Government Shutdown Standoff and/or a Debt Ceiling increase specifically because there is NO BUDGET!
That’s a strategy?
That’s the GOP strategy? Essentially: Lets plan for an annual battle against articulate Democrats and Presidential charm, using a creepy guy who cries and another old mumbling fool who dodders, knowing full well the MSM is on the side of the other guy to begin with?
THAT’S YOUR GOP STRATEGY?
Don’t tell me it’s not, because if it wasn’t there’d be something else being done – there isn’t.
And don’t think we don’t know the 2009 “stimulus” became embedded in the baseline of the federal spending, and absent of an actual budget it just gets spent and added to the deficit each year, every year. Yet this is somehow smaller fiscal government?
….And you’re worried about what Donald Trump might do?