The battleground of the moment is ObamaCare. But the first adversary that must be defeated is the Republican establishment. Is it any wonder that the Republican leadership is working to make sure the defunding effort fails?
Ted Cruz is pinning his ambitions to the big reality the Tea Party represents: conservatives really are fed up with both parties in Washington, D.C. The Republican base allowed Obama to be re-elected when an estimated five million of us stayed home in the 2012 election. It may not have been wise, but it happened for a very good reason: they didn’t see the Republican Party representing them.
The D.C. establishment, and this includes both parties, is doing very well, thank you. The suburbs around Washington are the wealthiest in the nation. They and their families were untouched by the Obama economic meltdown. A huge government, spending a quarter of our nation’s wealth, with almost half the populace dependent on their largesse, is good for them. It is not good for us.
The Republican leadership want to defeat ObamaCare, but mostly they want to use it as a campaign talking point to return to power. They are not willing to fight with all their hearts and minds to protect the American people from this disaster. That might be risky. That might not play well in this week’s polls. That might not be as good for them as letting it go through and then complaining about it in 2014 and 2016.
The Republicans have ignored the will of their own voters for a long time. They ignored their base and ratcheted up the national debt under President Bush. Instead of slinking away in disgrace for losing the base, Karl Rove is as powerful as ever, fighting Cruz from the pages of the Wall Street Journal and every TV station he can use to push the status quo. The Republican elite has fought the base’s desire to stop illegal immigration. They were happy when the Tea Party revolution handed them control of the House in 2010, then turned around and bad-mouthed us as fanatics and incompetents who failed to also win the Senate.
Interestingly, Republican Party Chairman Reince Priebus is one establishment leader who does get it, perhaps because he is the guy who has to get out the vote in the next election. Priebus published a brief piece yesterday entitled “In a battle between Ted Cruz and Harry Reid, we must stand with Senator Cruz.” The Senate leadership is not listening.
Ted Cruz knows something the establishment doesn’t. The Tea Party is a genuine populist uprising. This government isn’t an elite tyranny yet. People do have power when they pick up the phone or e-mail their senators and congressmen.
Commentators keep talking about Cruz not working with McConnell and Cornyn, as if he is a lone wolf. Cruz is not a lone wolf. He is a man of the people.
Cruz is appealing over McConnell’s and Boehner’s heads, listening and talking directly to the voters. Everyone said he could not get the House to attach defunding to the continuing resolution. So Cruz did not try to convince the speaker and his complacent, pusillanimous followers. He went on TV, he took out ads, he ran an internet petition, and he called for people to fight. They responded. They’re hungry to fight. People are fighting for their health care, their jobs, for control over their own lives. A million and a half people signed Cruz’s petition. Thousands of phone calls from angry constituents followed, and all the talk of how it couldn’t be done disappeared overnight.
The same thing could happen in the Senate. It will be decided not by Cruz, not by the establishment pundits, and certainly not by the Senate leadership. It will be decided by the conservative Republican base plus Democrat voters frightened enough of ObamaCare to call their senators.
October 1 is not just the potential start of a government shutdown; it is the roll-out of ObamaCare. We keep being told about polls showing that people don’t want a government shutdown. What will voters be more upset with: losing their insurance, paying more for their insurance, losing access to their doctors, losing their full-time hours or worse, losing their jobs — or a partial government shutdown?
Is it impossible to unite Republican senators to vote against cloture and then turn five Democrat senators to vote against funding ObamaCare? It all depends on how many voters pick up the phone. (Scroll down here to get a list of senators’ phone numbers.) It is not out of the reach of ordinary people to overturn the ObamaCare disaster. Ted Cruz is giving us the opportunity.
Hat tip to Thomas Lifson.
Karin McQuillan is a retired psychotherapist and mystery author, and a regular contributor to American Thinker.