“It will be of little avail to the people, that the laws are made by men of their own choice, if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood.” – James Madison, The Federalist No. 62
In the year 2019, nine years after the constitutionalist and populist Tea Party wave midterm election of 2010, how many Republicans in Congress actually agree with James Madison?
While all the eyes of political media this week remain fixated upon the dueling melodramas of expected House impeachment later today and the next Democratic Party presidential primary debate tomorrow evening, Congress is gearing up to pass yet another year-end budget betrayal. To be sure, we already knew that fiscal conservatism was dead and that Republicans themselves killed it. But it seems that Republicans’ insatiable desire for fiscal profligacy will not be quenched until they can also spit upon fiscal conservatism’s proverbial corpse.
Daniel Horowitz of Blaze Media has a devastating breakdown of the nature of the latest boondoggle — a boondoggle rearing its ugly head, lest we forget, less than two years after President Donald Trump himself vowed to “never sign a bill like this again.” Over 2,400 pages of legislation. Nearly one and a half trillion dollars of additional spending. Increased funding for the EPA, but no increased funding for ICE. MS-13 trafficking and amnesty loopholes galore. More backdoor amnesty for Liberian nationals. Incentivizing illegal aliens to attempt to enter the federal workforce. Re-authorization of the corporate welfare- and crony capitalism-abetting Export-Import Bank. Raising the national tobacco purchasing age to 21. Tens of millions of dollars toward “gun violence research.” Zero attention paid to the neo-Confederate nationwide plague of sanctuary city lawlessness. Zero attention paid to the fact that murderous transnational criminal cartels still effectively control large swaths of our southern border. Zero attention paid to our nationwide crisis of revanchist and power-hungry judicial supremacism.
And so forth. It’s enough to make one wonder why we elect Republicans into office, in the first instance. Is there anyone on the Republican side of the aisle who still cares about the forgotten American?
Over the past few years, there has been an ongoing and roiling dialogue over the intellectual meaning and political future of American conservatism. It is undoubtedly an important and healthy discussion for us conservatives to air out among ourselves. My own take is that there will be no going back to the pre-Trump “dead consensus,” with the only open question being the proper path forward.
But as every card-carrying conservative knows, “Republican” and “conservative” are hardly synonymous terms. And while the debate over what it means to be a conservative rages on, it is an entirely distinct question to ask what exactly it is that contemporary elected Republicans claim to actually stand for. After all, it certainly does not seem to be fiscal restraint. It certainly does not seem to be cultural traditionalism. It certainly does not seem to be national sovereignty.
Instead, the least common denominator that unifies seemingly all elected Republicans, in the year 2019, seems to be a shared hatred of the Left — or “triggering the libs,” as my colleague Michael Knowles aptly phrased it yesterday. Indeed, there is actually some historical precedent for this: The sole unifying factor among all three “legs” of the traditional post-William F. Buckley Jr./Reagan-era conservative “stool” — fiscal conservatism, social conservatism, and national security hawkishness — was opposition to the existential threat of Soviet-era communism.
The modern, post-Kavanagh fiasco Left is indeed a vicious and malicious political foe. The Left’s reckless radicalization and trend toward full-on totalitarian socialism is one of the three factors that fortifies my confidence in voting for Donald Trump next November. But surely it is not too much to ask Republicans to actually stand for something beyond mere hatred of the dreaded enemy.
Or is it?