The inclination many establishment Republicans have shown for premature legislative and ideological surrender is, at times, only matched by their eagerness to surrender the messaging battle as well.
Committed conservatives are already fighting a difficult messaging battle. They face committed liberal activists, far-left elected officials at the local, state, and federal level, an entrenched federal bureaucracy, an ideologically blinded media, an influential entertainment community, and an insulated, left-leaning academic community. We do not need to waste precious resources fighting against our own party. But the establishment has backed us into a corner by integrating the language of the Left into its own messaging.
I witnessed this recently at a Republican debate I attended for Florida’s 18th congressional district. The moderator of the debate asked the candidates a question about a vote for or against a debt ceiling hike, and insinuated via the wording of the question that a “no” vote would be a vote for shutting down the government. I was hoping the candidates would see through the messaging magic trick the debate moderator was playing on them, but many did not. By answering this “question,” without challenging the inaccurate premise of the question, many of the candidates lent credence to the premise that the GOP is responsible for “shutting down the government.” This is complete garbage and no activist, candidate, elected official, or responsible member of the GOP with a media voice should make room for this nonsensical idea.
Democrats, and their ideologically-aligned media friends, invented the false narrative that the GOP is responsible for any government shutdown as a tool to force the GOP to forfeit the constitutional congressional power of the purse, which the GOP-led House of Representatives rightfully holds.
Now that the narrative has been firmly implanted in the American public conscience, with the assistance of many in the GOP, and with Republican leadership afraid to tell the truth about how the government “shuts down,” the GOP insider class has effectively disempowered itself, along with the voters who busted their butts to get them elected and millions of conservative Americans who are pleading for their lawmakers to fight back against President Obama’s “fundamental transformation.”
Here are the very simple, and indisputable facts, about government “shutdowns.” The Republican-led House of Representatives has the constitutional duty to put forth, and pass, a federal budget. When a compromise budget is accepted by both the House and the Senate, it is then passed on to President Obama who can choose whether to sign the budget. If the president refuses to sign the budget and the government “shuts down”—a misnomer in itself because the government’s essential functions continue unabated during a “shutdown”— it is the exclusive result of presidential inaction. This requires no leap in logic or world-class imagination to figure out.
With this said, I am pleading with Republicans across the grassroots and elected spectrum to please stop saying, “We shouldn’t shut down the government.” Of course we shouldn’t shut down the government because we can’t shut down the government. Only the president can do that.
Do you really think that if the roles were reversed, and the Republicans held the White House and the Democrats held the House and Senate, that the media narrative would be the same? Of course not. The media would be blaming the Republican President for “shutting down the government” if he refused to sign the Democratic congress’ budget.
So please stop playing along like media lapdogs and carrying their messaging water for them. Just gather yourselves together and commit to doing the right thing and not the easy thing, and tell the people the truth. We deserve it.
EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the Conservative Review. The featured image of President Obama is by Pablo Martinez Monsivais | AP Photo.