The Locust Years: The Republican Party 2017-2018?

by Ryan Walters

In 1936, Winston Churchill said of the British Conservative Party, “So they go on in strange paradox, decided only to be undecided, resolved to be irresolute, adamant for drift, solid for fluidity, all-powerful to be impotent. “

Churchill’s statement applies just as appropriately to the Republican Party in 2017 America as it did the Conservatives of the 30s. The Conservative Party in Britain sat idly by while the Nazis rearmed and prepared for war. In much the same way, the Republican Party has remained useless in slowing the rise of a ubiquitous, debt-ridden federal government. This Republican Party told voters if they won the House in 2010 they would effectively control the powers of the purse, stopping ObamaCare dead in its tracks. After winning a House majority, Republican leaders excoriated Ted Cruz over his 21-hour filibuster-style speech attempting to persuade the GOP to strip ObamaCare of funding through House legislation. Mitch McConnell explained that it was better strategically to wait until Republicans won the Senate then they would remove every “root and branch” of ObamaCare. Soon after winning the Senate, Republicans explained that President Obama would simply veto any legislation passed, so to effectively eliminate ObamaCare the Republicans needed control of the executive branch also. Now that same party has control over all three branches of the federal government and its messages is…. We need more Republicans in elected office so that we can repeal ObamaCare. While Republicans have a litany of excuses for their utter incompetence, a closer look reveals these excuses to be a dishonest cover for a more pernicious explanation for their inadequacy.

Democrats and the media express the need for bipartisanship. The Republicans love using this belief in compromise to excuse their failure to accomplish their conservative agenda. Republicans tell us they are trying to compromise with the Democrats, and that takes time. Republicans tell us that this is how D.C. works. There are two major problems with this line of reasoning. First, this political adage is only used when the Republicans are in the majority. How many times did the mainstream media use the term “bipartisanship” when the Democrats controlled the Presidency, Senate, and House? How many commentators excoriated the Democrats for passing ObamaCare without a single Republican vote? Second, bipartisan solutions in recent history have all meant the same result would occur: the Democrats get 75% of what they want, the Republicans get none of what they want, and we are told conservatives should be happy that Democrats didn’t get 100% of what they wanted. At present the bipartisan bills being discussed are bills concerning net neutrality, increased infrastructure spending, and a bill to strip President Trump of part of his executive powers concerning the current special counsel investigation. It is difficult to see how any of these bills further any aspect of a conservative agenda. The only time in recent memory that Republicans successfully negotiated any cuts in spending in a bipartisan agreement was in the sequestration agreement, and those cuts affected one of the areas of the federal government that is actually completely constitutional and necessary: defense. When was the last time a compromise was struck where the parties agreed to cut 50% of an agency’s budget instead of 60%? That’s a compromise that conservatives could live with because that agreement would further their agenda to shrink the size of government, but this kind of agreement seems to be a fantasy. The only compromises we have seen of late are ones that further the left’s agenda.

Some have argued that the Republicans are simply incompetent. They want to accomplish the promises they campaigned on, but they are simply too inept to complete the task. After all, they are up against a morally bankrupt party who will do anything to slow their agenda. Republicans must also deal with a media that opposes them from the outset. While true, these factors do not explain why, now that the GOP has control of both houses and the Presidency, it is still unable to bring about conservative reforms. At this point the party is out of excuses. Now the sound logic of Occam’s razor can’t be denied. The most simple, therefore most logical, explanation as to why the Republicans do not bring about the conservative agenda they promise can only be one thing: they never had any intention of bringing about any of those promises.

What can be done to restore the GOP to a party with conservative ideals? Grassroots conservatives must pressure the Republicans in office to keep their campaign promises. Push them to follow the lead of Ronald Reagan in the 1980s and Newt Gingrich’s Contract for America in the 1990s, and prove to the American people that the Republican Party believes in the principles it espouses. President Reagan was able to open up the private sector to produce 16 million new jobs through tax cuts, deregulation, and the shrinking of government spending. The Contract with America not only made clear to voters what the principles of the Republicans were, it also displayed the party’s ability to fulfill its promises. The Contract presented to voters a clear vision, and exhibited Republican’s seriousness by laying out specifics, that once elected, they could be held accountable.

Conservatives must pressure the party to remove Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, and any of their close associates from any leadership position and replace them with true conservative leaders. The GOP leadership has continuously blocked conservative measures from moving to the floor. Ted Cruz or Mike Lee should replace McConnell as Senate Majority Leader and Mark Meadows or Jim Jordan should replace Paul Ryan as Speaker of the House. A popular phrase used in the Reagan administration was “personnel is policy.” Reagan’s staff used this phrase as a justification for removing the holdovers from the Carter Presidency. As long as members of Carter’s staff were still serving, they would obviously continue to pursue the Carter administration’s policy. If establishment Republicans continue to serve in leadership positions there is no reason to believe that there will be any significant changes in policy.

Conservatives must be more involved in the primary process. This is where a considerable impact can be made. Principled candidates must make it to the general election or else there is no real opportunity for change. Bold conservative candidates like Jarrin Jackson in Oklahoma need grassroots support. The Freedom Caucus, with around 40 dues-paying members, was able to play a major role pushing for a bill that would actually repeal ObamaCare. Even though they were unsuccessful in getting a bill passed, they were a focal point of the negotiations, providing an example of how influential a conservative caucus can be. Could you imagine the effect a Senate with 15 Mike Lees or a House with a freedom caucus of 100 solid constitutional conservatives would have on legislation?

The Republican Party must quickly embrace the values for which they advocated and fulfill their campaign promises. Republicans must produce free market healthcare reforms that lower the cost of health care and provide an array of insurance options for the American people. Daniel Horowitz has put together 20 ideas to cure America’s healthcare crisis that conservatives have promulgated for years. Most significantly, they must start by repealing ObamaCare. The grassroots groups that have made possible GOP victories will eventually find a more loyal party to support in the future, or, at minimum, a party that will not lie to them about its central pledge for eight years. More importantly, as the government continues to devour what is left of a free-market health care system, the country may finally reach a point beyond which it can recover. If the Democrats are able to bring about a single-payer healthcare system, it would seem an insurmountable obstacle for conservatives to overcome. These are pivotal years for the conservative movement.

Churchill referred to 1934-35 as the “Locust Years” because those were crucial years that should have been spent preparing for war and instead they were eaten up without any result. What do we have to show for electing a Republican House, a Republican Senate, and a Republican President? Will 2017-2018 be the years the locusts have eaten?

Ryan Walters is a high school teacher in McAlester, Oklahoma. He teaches Advanced Placement courses in world history, U.S. history, and U.S. government. He can be reached by email at or on Twitter @ryanmwalters.

This article was originally published at American Thinker. Read the original article here.




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