Reports are out that the massive monstrosity omnibus budget bill that weighs in at over 2200 pages and has cleared the House of Representatives (where remember, the GOP holds a commanding majority, there is no filibuster, and the House has heretofore been reliably much more true to principle than the Senate) includes such travesties as continuing to fund Planned Infanticide, not even attempting to cut off funds to “sanctuary” rebel cities, and underfunding the border wall by about 98%. Makes one wonder what we went to all the trouble for. Senator Rand Paul has come out in vehement opposition to this bill and I hope he’s not the only one who looks this over and says to hell with this nonsense. But seeing as how the House is where most of our real stalwarts are I’m not optimistic. In reality I see the grievously pathetic non-funding of the border wall as the best hope to see this go down in defeat–not that the Republicans will stick up for it, but that President Trump will take one look at that and veto it faster than you can say “believe me.” At least, I hope he will. Maybe the GOP doesn’t grasp that if there’s no wall then there won’t be a second term, or maybe they DO grasp that fact and are counting on it, but I’m pretty sure President Trump understands that very well. The President might not feel strongly enough about abortion to take a stand on that hill, and defunding “sanctuary” cities might be more trouble than it’s worth (note that’s a big “might”), but the wall is a nonstarter.
I have to acknowledge that there’s a small but existent outlier chance that the House is being too clever by half and trying to emulate the President by passing a “reasonable” and “bipartisan” budget first, watching for it to get smacked down by grandstanding Democrats in the Senate, and then when the shutdown is either imminent or underway come back with the bill they really want and with all the credibility for having passed a more agreeable one before. But frankly that is getting into legitimate 4D chess territory with way too many moving parts to get over 200 Republican congressmen on board with. Which likely means that barring a goal-line stand in the Senate it’s going to come down to President Trump’s veto pen. It’s much more likely in my view (much as I hate to say this) that the Republicans are banking on their belief that the President will simply sign whatever budget they give him and be done with it.
All of this means that once again, the GOP is giving up without a fight, and either demonstrating that a distressing number of them do not actually care about the principles they claimed to stand for, or are petulantly rejecting everything they have always said that they wanted just because it’s dressed up in a business suit and a MAGA hat. I’m honestly not sure which is worse, that they are no more honest than the Democrats or that they are so petty and vindictive that they’ll sacrifice everything just to spite President Trump. One thing is painfully clear, though: don’t go writing this off by calling the GOP the “Party of Stupid.” I’m afraid that we have to apply the corollary to Hanlon’s Razor here once again. Stupidity is not an adequate explanation for this. For whatever malevolent reason, or possibly Rube Goldberg level overcomplicated reason, this is all intentional. The Democrats, they can get away with electing idiots because they just vote in lockstep. They know their ideas are at best misguided and untested and at worst failed and outright destructive, but that never stops them from being exactly who they are and ramming as much of their agenda down our collective throats as they can whenever they get the chance. The Republicans, on the other hand, seem paralyzed by the fear that if they actually got what they wanted, it would actually work. On some level I can see this being a legitimate concern–Republican voters have a tendency to go to sleep in the off years and without hotbutton rally cries like “defund Planned Infanticide” and “Build the Wall” to generate outrage they may be worried that if they actually DID any of that stuff then the next election would be a massacre.
But the problem is, it WOULD be–a massacre of the Democrats. The Republicans are in no danger of running out of messes to clean up, no matter what their focus groups and lobbyists and polls are telling them. Where they ARE in grave danger is with their diehard core supporters who have spent long years waiting for the opportunity that we have right now, having given the GOP more and more until finally they have the entire government and very few excuses left. This isn’t a couple of rogue senators or an activist judge standing in the way. This is supposed to be where the heart and soul of the conservative wing of the conservative party resides. Do not try to tell me “well we can’t expect to get everything we want” when frankly, yes we can. We can expect our elected representatives who control both houses of Congress AND the presidency to at least make an honest attempt to get us everything we want. Nevermind that so far it looks like we’re getting a whole lot of nothing.
It is regrettably important to remember that we do still have a binary choice. I understand and deeply sympathize with folks expressing the opinion that they don’t see a point in trying, it’s all the same establishment, they’re not going to bother, let the Democrats take it back, and so on. I am as tired as anyone else is of choosing the lesser of two evils. I’d like to exhort people to get out there and choose the good in primary season, and if no good candidate exists then sign up and be the good, but the fact is this is the real world and it ain’t that simple. Another critical fact is that no matter how bad it is with the GOP in charge, we only have to look to 2009-2016 to see that with the Democrats holding the reins it is an order of magnitude worse. I will gladly take the lesser of two evils over the greater. What is most frightening about this utter capitulation and how blatantly it ignores the results of the few special elections the GOP has lost is that this is how you get the greater of two evils. Also, the GOP would be wise to remember that this kind of weakwilled cowardice and establishment game-playing is a big part of why today’s parties are not the Democrats and the Whigs. It’s always a binary choice, the only difference is which two options you get to pick from.
Evil will prosper when good men do nothing. Therefore, all evil needs to do to win is not defeat the good, but just get enough of the good guys to not show up. Evil knows this. The GOP had damned well better figure it out, and if it turns out they’re actually counting on it, then maybe it’s time we put some better options on the table.