Republicans are under attack from the highest towers of official Washington — the gnashing of chattering-class teeth now even more pronounced following Indiana Treasurer Richard Mourdock’s decisive victory over 36-year incumbent Republican U.S. Senator Dick Lugar.
Two weeks ago, even before Mourdock’s triumph, the Washington Post published a column, entitled, “Let’s just say it: The Republicans are the problem.” Authors Thomas Mann of the Brookings Institution and Norman Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute are the resident scholars (read: apologists) of our nation’s capital or, as Post columnist Ezra Klein described them, “the two most respected, committed scholars — and defenders — of the U.S. Congress.”
That serves as both hoity-toity street cred for the national political class and, considering congressional approval ratings, an ugly black-eye before the American people.
“We have been studying Washington politics and Congress for more than 40 years,” wrote Mann and Ornstein, “and never have we seen them this dysfunctional,” adding, in phony non-partisanship, “Today, however, we have no choice but to acknowledge that the core of the problem lies with the Republican Party.”
“Our advice to the press,” the pair generously offered, “Don’t seek professional safety through the even-handed, unfiltered presentation of opposing views.” Put in layman’s terms: “When you do your reporting, slap a finger or five on the scale. Tell people to vote for the Democrat.”
What else can be done? Apparently, Republicans cause gridlock. Especially conservative Republicans concerned about the federal government’s splurging of our tax dollars and adding a trillion more in debt every year.
When Republicans don’t agree with Democrats, how can government grow?
Like Mann and Ornstein, Mark Mardell, the North American editor of BBC News, understands. He too bemoans Lugar’s ouster, “If you think you have seen gridlock, just wait and watch Goldwater’s final victory”
Noting that when Ronald Reagan captured the White House in 1980, George Will quipped, “It took 16 years to count the votes, and Goldwater won,” Mardell added that with Mourdock’s victory, “Goldwater has now won his campaign to purge his party of moderates; it has just taken him 48 years longer than he had hoped.”
Indeed, Goldwater did help define conservatism as favoring less government, and his 1964 presidential campaign led to a more pro-free market GOP. His ideas captured the majority of rank-and-file Republicans.
Just as Mourdock’s ideas won last week. The voters, the people, decided. It’s called “change.”
Much was made of Lugar not having lived in the state since 1976, and certainly 36 years in office is enough for any man. Meanwhile, Mourdock endorsed congressional term limits, as well as pledging to keep at least a crash pad in the state. Both important issues affecting the degree of representation citizens receive.
But mostly Mourdock defeated Lugar because the incumbent Senator favors a deal-making Washington that continues to tax more and deficit spend, while the challenger favors reducing the planned growth of government in the coming years. When Mr. Mourdock goes to the U.S. Senate, the people who sent him there want him to stand up to block, to gridlock wasteful, deficit federal government spending.
Lugar favors the continued advance of the Washington, so beloved by Mann and Ornstein and the Washington Post, where the federal government is the well-compensated fix-it man for every problem. Lugar’s defeat is a repudiation of every good, true and beautiful thing they stand for.
Toward the end of yet another diatribe against the unreasonableness of conservative Republicans, Ezra Klein confessed the obvious, “Whether the Republican Party is ‘the problem’ is a subjective judgment. Perhaps you loathe taxes and, in the face of all available evidence, consider global warming a hoax. In that case, the Republican Party is doing exactly what it should be doing.”
I loathe taxes as much as the next guy, but the issue is really federal government borrowing and spending. That threatens our very survival as a society.
And, yes, it was Barry Goldwater in his 1964 acceptance speech upon winning the GOP presidential nomination, who proclaimed, “I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue!”
“Bipartisanship has brought us to the brink of bankruptcy,” Richard Mourdock said during his campaign. “We don’t need bipartisanship, we need application of principle.”
Being serious and committed to restoring fiscal sanity to Washington is no vice.
Even the dread gridlock would be a welcome change over out-of-control spending and debt. To paraphrase Patrick Henry, the Revolution’s great firebrand: “If this be gridlock, make the most of it.”
May 13, 2012
This column appeared first at Townhall.com.