The ink is barely dry on the GOP's catastrophic divorce from conservative principle that was the Trumpcare boondoggle, and the purportedly right-of-center political party is once again setting itself up for more rounds of the clown car spectacle that Ace of Spades once dubbed "failure theater."
Only a few days after throwing in the towel on seven years' worth of solemn promises by conceding Obamacare is here to stay "for the foreseeable future," House Speaker Paul Ryan reverted to his faux-conservative posturing at the 2017 AIPAC Policy Conference by merely vowing to "rigorously enforce" the Iranian nuclear deal in lieu of unilateral termination. And now, courtesy of The Hill, we see that the GOP is preemptively surrendering every major contested point in April's upcoming congressional budget battle:
Stung by the defeat of their ObamaCare repeal plan, GOP leaders are doing what they can to avoid a messy spending fight with Democrats that would risk a government shutdown.
Senate Republican leaders signaled Tuesday they would set aside President Trump’s controversial request for a military supplemental bill that would include funding to begin construction of a wall along the southern border.
Speaking at a leadership press conference at the request of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said the supplemental bill would likely move “at a later time.”
Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), meanwhile, sought to avoid another political landmine Tuesday by arguing that language defunding Planned Parenthood should be kept out of the spending legislation that needs to pass by April 28.
Let's be very clear about what is going on here. A Republican president and his establishmentarian allies on Capitol Hill brutally savaged the House Freedom Caucus and like-minded outside group allies for (properly) defeating the crap sandwich that was Trumpcare, and by then explicitly favoring future negotiation with Democrats over working with the Freedom Caucus stalwarts themselves. The Iranian nuclear deal, a harrowing capitulation to the existentially threatening forces of sharia supremacist subjugation, truly does appear to be here to stay: Barack Obama's Iran deal "czar" remains in place at Foggy Bottom, and neither President Trump nor Ryan has shown any inclination whatsoever of fulfilling their campaign promises by short-circuiting the misguided appeasement of Tehran.
Now, before the spring budget battle has even begun, establishment Republicans on Capitol Hill are seeking to use the legislative defeat of their awful faux-repeal bill as an excuse to cave to the Democrats on everything from taxpayer funding of the kid-killing lobby to construction of the president's much ballyhooed pro-sovereignty border wall agenda. And they are doing so, much like Peter Stuyvesant surrendering the island of Manhattan to King Charles II in 1664, without firing a single shot.
All the while, of course, it is conservatives who are ostracized and lambasted by our ostensibly own political party. We're "purists," they cry! We're "obstructionists," they yell! It is all completely asinine, but, as I tweeted on Monday, it is enough to make one sometimes pause and wonder what exactly it is that we are even fighting for.
Of course, if we truly believe that our principles are timeless – which I emphatically do – then it is imperative that such vacillating thoughts be contextualized as mere setbacks in the long war to advance constitutionally principled conservatism and save the republic from recalcitrant, retrograde Leftism. But, crucially, saving the republic means pledging fealty to both of these two aspects of the broader fight. It is not enough to merely reflexively oppose Leftism, as Daily Wire Editor-in-Chief Ben Shapiro frequently admonishes; rather, we can only fight the Left when we ourselves stand for an intellectually earnest conservatism rooted in classical liberalism, laissez-faire, a thriving civil society that aids human flourishing, and a strict abiding by structural constitutional principles, such as federalism and the separation of powers.
Then, and only then, will conservatives stand a chance of defeating the Left. We stand no chance if we pose as Democrats Lite™ and regurgitate vapid policy talking points only one or two increments less Statist than that which the Democrats offer.
With the White House and its establishmentarian allies increasingly committed to going down the path of scorched-earth total warfare against conservatives and kowtowing to Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, the time to act is now. The longer conservatives wait idly without any concrete legislative victories, the more likely it is that the Trump presidency will expeditiously descend away from our sphere of influence and inch more toward that of a de facto centrist (and also mercantilist, protectionist, and quasi-isolationist) Democrat.
With enough help from the grassroots, the April budget battle can probably still be salvaged. There is no reason whatsoever why Planned Parenthood cannot be defunded. Furthermore, Trump's signature pro-sovereignty agenda on the Southern border can still be realized, if only Trump would commit himself to the dirty details of actually going to Capitol Hill and selling a concrete policy platform. The GOP can start getting serious about promises to restore missile defense and Navy shipbuilding as some of its expressed top national defense prerogatives. Conservatives should rise up in unison to persuade Ryan to take up Rep. Mo Brooks' one-sentence full Obamacare repeal bill or, alternatively, to at least consider the plan that the Freedom Caucus has already proposed. By doing so, Trump and congressional Republicans can begin to reverse the already-nascent narrative that their party's reneging on seven years of Obamacare repeal promises represents the "biggest broken promise in political history." At the executive order level, Trump should have eviscerated the DACA and DAPA executive amnesties on January 20—but they can and should still be rescinded as quickly as possible.
In the aftermath of the setback that was the Trumpcare dumpster fire, this next month is indispensable in determining whether conservatives will reclaim a position of prominence in Washington, or if Trump will simply write us off for good. If you are a grassroots activist, call up your congressman and senators. Make them hear how angry and frustrated you are with the lack of any concrete conservative victories (with the possible exception of Judge Gorsuch's nomination) thus far in Trump's presidency. If you are an outside conservative group like the Club for Growth or Heritage Action, keep the heat on; in fact, crank it up.
Saving the republic requires defeating the Left. Defeating the Left requires advancing principled conservatism. And advancing principled conservatism means holding the GOP's feet to the fire, when need be. It just so happens that that time is right now.