"As a dog returns to his vomit, so a fool repeats his folly." —Proverbs 26:11
It’s not called the grand old party for nothing. The more things change, the more they stay the same. On Tuesday, the House GOP conference voted overwhelmingly to either keep the same leaders or to offer them promotions. The Senate followed suit on Wednesday.
Before all the votes are counted and we even know the full makeup of the House GOP Conference, Republicans rushed to hold leadership elections on Tuesday to coronate the existing leadership team before opposition could be mobilized. For the top two leadership positions, the House overwhelmingly voted to elevate Kevin McCarthy and Steve Scalise – the current minority leader and whip respectively – to the positions of speaker and majority leader. Scalise ran unopposed because nobody thought they could even muster opposition to him, and former Freedom Caucus Chairman Andy Biggs challenged McCarthy for speaker. McCarthy won 188-31.
While it is pathetic that less than one-seventh of the conference voted for change, it should be noted that 31 votes were actually a strong showing for Biggs, because it demonstrates that McCarthy is nowhere near the 218 votes he needs to secure for the Jan. 3 floor vote. Still, it’s disquieting that most Republicans don’t see a need to change leaders immediately.
Ironically, McCarthy and Scalise rose to prominence in June 2014 after the GOP failed to learn the lesson from the original conservative revolution against the establishment – even predating Trump. In one of the most shocking upsets of all time, an economics professor with little money knocked off then-Majority Leader Eric Cantor in the Virginia primary for his House seat. Just nine days later, rather than engaging in any introspection, the caucus voted to elevate then-Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy to the position of leader.
McCarthy and Cantor were cut from the same cloth, except McCarthy is less intelligent on policy issues than Cantor. Along with Paul Ryan, they wrote a book, “Young Guns,” outlining their weak corporatist vision for the party. Yet after Cantor was defeated in his own primary, they elevated McCarthy to leader, and then the remaining gun, Paul Ryan, became speaker a year later.
At the time, former Rep. Raul Labrador challenged McCarthy for the position and was backed by then-Rep. Ron DeSantis. "Promoting, by acclamation, a member of the very Washington leadership that has failed to bridge the divide with Republicans outside Washington struck me as exactly the wrong response," Labrador wrote in a letter to House Republicans. Well, eight years later, Labrador knocked off a RINO to become attorney general of Idaho, DeSantis became America’s most conservative governor in Florida, but McCarthy is still the GOP leader.
Down-ballot, things got even worse. Scalise’s move up to majority leader left a vacancy for the position of whip. So, who won the position? Rep. Tom Emmer, the man who ran the NRCC and produced the most underwhelming results for a GOP midterm with a Democrat president since 1962. Emmer recently co-sponsored a green card giveaway to Big Tech companies. Their reward for flooding our labor market with more foreign workers is to fast-track them with green cards. This is the man who will be counting the votes!
For the number four position, conference chair, incumbent Elise Stefanik was challenged by a Freedom Caucus member, Florida Rep. Byron Donalds. Stefanik won 144-74, which demonstrates that even after so many years of gains, conservatives still only compose about one-quarter of the GOP House members.
What about in the Senate? Surely enough Republicans would support getting rid of the fossil Mitch McConnell, right? Think again. It’s even worse in the house of lords. Only 16 Republicans voted to even delay the election until after the Georgia runoff. Then, only 10 Republicans supported Rick Scott over Mitch McConnell. Which again demonstrates what I’ve been saying for years – Democrats enjoy a de facto 90-10 majority in the Senate. So, Senate elections are moot anyway, because we are light-years away from a conservative majority.
As if to prove the point, just minutes after winning reelection, McConnell told the media how eager he is to work with Biden and touted all the liberal bipartisan victories he handed to Biden during the first two years.
McConnell then proceeded to stay neutral in the civilization fight over marriage by not whipping, as leader, against the gay marriage bill. Twelve Republicans voted for cloture on the bill, and most others aren’t exactly hopping mad that it will pass.The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results. Conservative pundits, talk show hosts, columnists, and strategic thinkers must ask themselves what they plan to do differently to change or leave this party. Clearly, what they are doing is not working.