Do Republicans Need Another ‘Contract With America’ in 2022?

 

Amidst debates among Republicans, such as the extent to which the U.S. should support and defend Ukraine, this has emerged: Do congressional Republicans need a positive, pro-active agenda to run on for the 2022 midterms? You know, like the 1994 Contract With America? Will it help? Is it politically necessary?

Then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich, flanked by future Speaker John Boehner, outlines progress on keeping their promises from the 1994 “Contract With America.”

In December, House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said he and his caucus is rolling out a “Commitment to America” over the year. It has already started with a “Parental Bill of Rights,” queuing off Governor Glenn Youngkin’s success with the issue of education with voters in the 2021 Virginia elections.

Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell was asked by reporters if his Conference would follow suit with a unifying legislative plan for the 2022 mid-terms as part of a strategy to capture a majority. “I’ll let you know when I take it back,” he said. Some conservatives are not happy.

Axios reported on the leaked details of a private dinner in early December involving Senators up for reelection in 2022 and major donors.

A donor asked a question that could only be answered by McConnell. According to a source in the room, the donor said something to the effect of: We all know what’s wrong with the Democrats, but what are we going to be running on to help us win?

  • McConnell’s response was something to the effect of, With all respect, that’s not what we’re doing, the source said.

McConnell has long held the view that putting out an agenda ahead of midterm elections is a mistake — at least for Senate Republicans, the sources told Axios.

  • He believes his view has been vindicated by recent history. McConnell points, in particular, to when he led Republicans to win back the Senate in the 2014 midterms without proposing an agenda.
  • Some donors and operatives point to a different memory: the “Contract with America.” House Republicans released a governing action plan before the 1994 midterm elections, and their party won back unified control of Congress for the first time in nearly 50 years.

The current House minority leader, Kevin McCarthy, is a “Contract with America” guy. He’s told his colleagues he thinks it’s important they tell voters what they support — not just what they oppose.

Both have history on their side. And neither leader is wrong in their strategic approaches, even within the same election year.

It’s happened before.

Senate Republicans did not embrace the House’s “Contract With America” in 1994. There was no such agenda in 2010 or 2014 when House and Senate Republicans enjoyed significant gains and subsequent congressional majorities. In contrast, I can find no such congressional Democratic “agenda” from any of their past elections, including the 2006 and 2008 elections when they recaptured and expanded majorities in the House and Senate towards the end of the George W. Bush presidency. Democrats just ran against Bush.

Yes, Senate Republicans came up with their own agenda in 1994 after they eschewed invitations from House GOP leaders to join them in the Contract With America. Entitled “Seven More in ‘94,” it was a seven-part set of tax, budget, healthcare, and other commitments led by then-National Republican Senatorial Committee chair Phil Gramm (R-TX) and his election team. It’s hard to find, and my copy is in deep storage. It was overshadowed by the House GOP Contract. Ultimately, in retrospect, it didn’t matter much. The GOP had a great political environment and terrific candidates like famous heart-lung transplant surgeon (and future Majority Leader) Dr. Bill Frist (R-TN).

But the environment was set and bears much resemblance to this year’s election. First-term President Bill Clinton’s legislative agenda wasn’t proving very popular, including his crime bill (“midnight basketball”), his (and wife Hillary’s) failed work on their complicated universal health care plan, Clinton’s then opposition to welfare reform (he would change), and Social Security tax increases. While the Contract helped Newt lead and control his GOP Conference once they were in charge, it helped them win in 1994 remains an open question. Clinton smartly co-opted much of the agenda with his 1996 reelection in focus.

Part of the problem was that Republicans didn’t fully agree on the counter-proposals to some of the Clinton agenda, especially health care reform. Senate Republicans devised two competing bills, one led by U.S. Sen. John Chafee (R-RI) and a more market-oriented proposal by conservative U.S. Sen. Don Nickles (R-OK), co-sponsored by 24 Republicans, a majority of the Conference. I’ll oversimplify by leaps and bounds, but it would have allowed you to shop for health care the way you shop now for auto insurance, with some obvious exceptions. Imagine, health insurance companies actually competing for your business, with insurance plans tailored to your needs? Radical! It remains very attractive but is now largely ignored by the current crop of congressional Republicans. LiMu Emu, call your office.

It’s a problem that plagues Republicans to this day – the inability to coalesce around a single health care reform bill (among other issues). It plagued President Donald Trump’s efforts to “repeal Obamacare.” That is one of several hurdles in developing a unifying plan by committee. And an unfriendly media will focus on both errors of commission and omission.

The late U.S. Senator Arlen Specter, then a Republican (PA) and presidential candidate, devised an organizational chart to show the complexity of President Clinton’s Health Security Act. Senate Republicans had two competing alternatives.

In 1994, Senate Republicans won 8 seats and captured two more when Democratic Senators Ben Nighthorse Campbell (C.O.) and Richard Shelby (A.L.) switched parties. Meanwhile, House Republicans won 54 seats and its first majority in 40 years. Heady times; a repeat looks likely in November 2022. Maybe including a party switcher.

There are several pros and cons about developing a “Contract With America” type proactive agenda to unify and amplify messages from candidates and incumbents.

Maybe it’s not an “either-or” proposition. Maybe you can do both.

Running on “something” versus “nothing.”

Former U.S. Education Secretary William Bennett once described politics as a football game with no timeouts; either you’re on offense with the ball, driving toward the opponent’s goal line, or your opponent has the ball and driving downfield against you. Having a unifying agenda provides you with an offensive game plan.

This approach makes more sense in a House election environment than in the Senate. All House seats are up every biennial election. House candidates, especially around large media markets, have a more challenging time breaking through with messages on media – they garner less media attention in most cases than do statewide gubernatorial or senatorial elections.

However, in the Senate, only a third of the Senate seats are on the ballot every two years, and the election environments and dynamics are different in each state.

This is complicated because more and more incumbents are less worried about challenges from the other party than their own. A “unifying agenda” may be great for a general election, but for an increasing number of candidates, Democratic and Republican, getting through their primaries is the challenge. This is especially true in House races where gerrymandering has created fewer truly “swing” or competitive districts.

There is also the strategy of “nationalizing” an election. Each major party often turns to that strategy when there is an overriding national issue or environment they think will help them win or turnout voters. Virginia’s Democratic gubernatorial candidate in 2021, former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, tried that approach last year to mobilize Democratic voters. He tried to make the election about Donald Trump. It didn’t work in the face of competing headwinds over education and the economy that drove dramatically higher GOP turnout.

House and Senate leadership roles differ.

Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) was a controversial firebrand when he finally won his third attempt at a suburban Atlanta congressional district in 1978. A military historian by training, the former college professor wasted little time crafting a vision, strategy, a set of tactics, and operations to do the unthinkable – lead Republicans to a majority in the House.

It took 16 years, but with help, he did it. The GOP would win a Senate majority the same year after an eight-year hiatus. But a majoritarian House, where individual House members have very little influence or power, is very different than leading a Senate Conference. Any Senator can gum up the works under the rules, either by objecting to “unanimous consent” requests – a fundamental management tool – or leading a filibuster. Neither tool exists in the House, where power is obtained through coalitions or caucuses.

While a House speaker may have more influence over committee chairmanships and agendas, a Senate floor leader is “first among equals” and must rely more heavily on persuasive powers than jamming down an agenda. While a House leader can often whip his or her troops into line, a Senate leader’s job is more akin to herding cats, or sometimes, pushing wet noodles up a wall.

Like the institutions themselves, House and Senate leaders operate very differently. As Nancy Pelosi has done, a House Speaker can jam through any bill on a simple majority. Senate leaders don’t have that luxury. It’s why some house members call the U.S. Senate a “graveyard where bills go to die.” True enough. And thank God.

Framing the attack versus offering a target

Senator McConnell understands the long game – the title of his biography – better than most. First elected in an upset Senate election in 1984 with ads crafted by Larry McCarthy and Roger Ailes, McConnell is a legendary political and legislative strategist. McConnell understands the Senate, its rules, and traditions. He knows how to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em and when to walk away or run from the legislative poker table (with apologies to the late Kenny Rogers). He’s occasionally wrong, but rarely.

And McConnell isn’t just thinking about the 2022 elections. He’s thinking about what happens afterward when he recaptures the title “Majority Leader.” He likely doesn’t want to limit options or tie them to an agenda that may not be achievable in a Senate that requires 60 votes to pass any legislative item other than budget and reconciliation bills. After all, there are elections in 2024, when presidential nominees set the agenda. Hold your horses. And 2026 is just around the corner. Forward-thinking.

House GOP leader McCarthy is also thinking about what happens after the 2022 elections. The “Commitment” will help the new Speaker keep his Conference focused and disciplined after they win a majority. The Senate’s ability to serve as a legislative graveyard (excuse me, the “cooling saucer of democracy”) frustrates both parties, but next time it will be Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer playing the role of Grim Reaper in 2023, rediscovering his lost love, the filibuster. Queue up the 2024 talking points. See how this works? History rhymes, indeed.

Senate leaders constantly talk to their colleagues, take temperatures, and figure out their wants and needs. The smart ones never get too far out front of their Conference. They know the length of their leashes. Joe Biden and Democrats have handed McConnell a target-rich environment for victory this fall. Polling clearly shows that much of the Democratic agenda and Biden’s job performance is unpopular with most Americans, including (especially) independents.

McConnell appears to have calculated that given dismal Democratic poll numbers, he doesn’t need to present a pro-active agenda to win a majority. Why offer Democrats a target? A good offense takes many forms, from advocating an agenda to attacking your opponents for theirs. Both are required and especially helpful in debates and campaign advertising. McConnell is happy to let Senate candidates do so of their own accord.

Some of McConnell’s critics may point to Gov. Youngkin’s proactive agenda in Virginia’s gubernatorial election last fall. And it served him well, drawing salient contrasts after eight years of increasing progressive if not sclerotic Democratic governance. But it wasn’t a “national” agenda – it was homegrown, all Virginia.

Youngkin’s win was as much about him and his style as a first-time outsider candidate with an attractive, optimistic, and energetic demeanor as his robust agenda. And Youngkin’s agenda derived much from Democratic mistakes, especially McAuliffe’s debate gaffe that parents shouldn’t be telling schools what they should teach. An agile Youngkin campaign pounced. References to Biden and his shameful Afghanistan surrender were made, but not emphasized.

With different dynamics, can Republicans have it both ways? Does having a pro-active agenda help them in the House, while Senate Republicans hold incumbent Democrats accountable and hoist their sails, relying on prevailing political winds? The answer, for now, appears to be yes. More from the Axios story:

Between the lines: A top GOP operative, who didn’t attend the dinner but has often heard such conversations involving McConnell, said these kinds of discussions happen regularly with the Republican leader.

  • “It happens all the time,” the source told Axios. “Donors especially are always asking for an agenda of some kind and McConnell pushes back hard. Because he knows that all it does is take the focus off unpopular Dem policies and gives Dems something tangible to tear apart.”
  • “One of the biggest mistakes challengers often make is thinking campaigns are about them and their ideas,” the source continued. “No one gives a (expletive deleted) about that. Elections are referendums on incumbents.”
  • “Challengers need to keep the focus on what incumbents promised and point out how they failed to deliver and how that has negatively impacted voters’ lives,” the source said.

The bottom line: Current polls appear to support McConnell’s political calculation.

  • By almost any measure — from President Biden’s approval rating to the generic ballot — Republicans are enjoying their best political environment for a decade.
  • They’re in this position having barely uttered a word about their plans for the future

Conservatives critical of McConnell’s strategy better channel their energy to help House Republicans develop their plan and abandon circular firing squads around the Senate.

In 2022, House and Senate Republicans may be able to have their ice cream and eat it, too.

(Disclosure: The author was Staff Director for the U.S. Senate Republican Policy Committee, chaired by US Sen. Don Nickles, from 1992-1995. He was the Secretary of the US Senate during the 104th Congress, 1995-96).

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  1. Gossamer Cat Coolidge
    Gossamer Cat
    @GossamerCat

    I will tell you right now that I will support no candidate, PAC or other organization whose appeal starts with “Do you want to stop Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer and the Democrat’s radical agenda?”  I think it is a losing strategy for 2022.   With rampant crime in our cities, erosion of our personal freedom, embarrassment on the international stage, institutionalized racism in the form of set asides, quotas and rationing of health care, coarsening of the national dialogue, denigration of our country and our culture, surely the Republicans can tell us what they stand for, even if they don’t get into specifics.

    How about this for a platform:

    “…form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity…”

    Or they can sing it:

     

    • #1
  2. James Lileks Contributor
    James Lileks
    @jameslileks

    Gossamer Cat (View Comment):
    I will tell you right now that I will support no candidate, PAC or other organization whose appeal starts with “Do you want to stop Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer and the Democrat’s radical agenda?” 

    Agreed. That’s boilerplate PAC mass-mailing grift-o-speak aimed at the people who click on the ads that say “Should Biden Be Impeached? Vote Now!” 

    • #2
  3. navyjag Coolidge
    navyjag
    @navyjag

    Short answer is yes. You know all the personalities.  Just thinking about what worked in Virginia. So no more than 5 points:

    1. Take back the public schools. Teacher’s union vs. the parents. Worked in Virginia. Might even work in San Francisco.
    2. Take back the border.  We have enough poor people. Let’s take care of them first. 
    3. Take back energy independence. Frack and frack some more. We can fill up our tanks for less than $5 a gallon without Russian oil.
    4. Take back law enforcement.  Fund the cops.  Jail the criminals.  
    5. Support small business. Screw Big Tech and Wall Street. Help the regular folks that barely survived the pandemic.  Less regulation. Probably Trump’s biggest accomplishment. 
    • #3
  4. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVey
    @GaryMcVey

    A smart post. Do what Biden and the Dems didn’t do: figure out the 70/30 sweet spot and stick to that. 

    • #4
  5. TBA Coolidge
    TBA
    @RobtGilsdorf

    Many conservative positions are easily spun – or at least people easily believe spin – such that we are nut-jobs/haters/etc.; the more we talk, the more we get taken out of context. 

    • #5
  6. GlenEisenhardt Coolidge
    GlenEisenhardt
    @GlenEisenhardt

    Not if they’re not going to deliver. If they don’t have the guts to shut the government down until Biden gives in they don’t need to make any promises. They should fight to give the democrats the same medicine we’ve been given since trump was elected. They should turn the entire congress into a giant investigative and impeachment committee when they’re not sending hard bills to bidens desk. 

    • #6
  7. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    James Lileks (View Comment):

    Gossamer Cat (View Comment):
    I will tell you right now that I will support no candidate, PAC or other organization whose appeal starts with “Do you want to stop Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer and the Democrat’s radical agenda?”

    Agreed. That’s boilerplate PAC mass-mailing grift-o-speak aimed at the people who click on the ads that say “Should Biden Be Impeached? Vote Now!”

    Agreed

    • #7
  8. Steven Seward Member
    Steven Seward
    @StevenSeward

    From the perspective of simply winning elections, I don’t think the Republicans need to put out an agenda or do anything in particular.  They are so far ahead in the opinion polls that they can literally rest on their laurels.

    It is very common for candidates who are substantially ahead of weak opponents in polls to opt out of debating them in public forums.  It irritates me no end when they do that, but it is a political calculus that balances the chance that the leading candidate will say something stupid in the debate and alienate many of his followers vs. the chance that he will lose only a small portion of followers by not debating.

    I don’t think the example from the 1994 mid-terms applies so much to today.  The republicans were operating from a point of weakness in that the Congress had not been in Republican hands for 40 years.  They had to try something novel, or even desperate.  And it worked!  Clinton had provided them with an opening by being just progressive enough that Americans started waking up.  But he was no running disaster leaving flames in his horrible wake like Joe Biden.

    I’m all for putting out a conservative agenda, as are most of you, but we are in the minority.  We are political junkies who actually follow policy matters.  Most people couldn’t care less.  All they see is the bungling and gross incompetence of democrats and that’s good enough for them to go out and vote republican.  There’s kind of an old saying that it is easier to get people to vote against someone or some issue than it is to get them to vote for a person or issue.   Trump’s ouster in 2020 is the perfect illustration of that.

    The Democrats are putting out the Republican Agenda on their own, without any help from Republicans.

    • #8
  9. Douglas Pratt Coolidge
    Douglas Pratt
    @DouglasPratt

    navyjag (View Comment):

    Short answer is yes. You know all the personalities. Just thinking about what worked in Virginia. So no more than 5 points:

    1. Take back the public schools. Teacher’s union vs. the parents. Worked in Virginia. Might even work in San Francisco.
    2. Take back the border. We have enough poor people. Let’s take care of them first.
    3. Take back energy independence. Frack and frack some more. We can fill up our tanks for less than $5 a gallon without Russian oil.
    4. Take back law enforcement. Fund the cops. Jail the criminals.
    5. Support small business. Screw Big Tech and Wall Street. Help the regular folks that barely survived the pandemic. Less regulation. Probably Trump’s biggest accomplishment.

    I can’t imagine a better platform than this right here.

    • #9
  10. Victor Tango Kilo Member
    Victor Tango Kilo
    @VtheK

    It doesn’t really address the GOP’s credibility problem. New Gingrich’s Contract with America was almost 30 years ago. The problem with the GOP since then has been an absolute failure to keep any of their pledges apart from tax cuts. “Repeal and Replace Obamacare? Nah. Secure the Border? Big Nah. Fiscal responsibility? Most certainly Nah.” 

    We all know that  should the GOP win the House (the Senate’s most likely out of reach), we’re just in for two more years of “We only have one half of one branch of Government. How can you expect us to do anything?” 

    • #10
  11. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Any agenda that doesn’t include more limits on emergency powers isn’t worth having. Emergency powers executed by executives (at all levels of government) should require legislative ratification in order to be kept in effect for long periods. 

    • #11
  12. DonG (CAGW is a hoax) Coolidge
    DonG (CAGW is a hoax)
    @DonG

    I don’t think it is up to the Senators to have a “contract”, it is about the GOP.  The party should have a simple list of priorities with broad appeal and then run on that in every town and state for every position from dog catcher to president.  This is part of branding.   All product brands that you know spend a lot of time and money establishing their image, because it works.  Coke tells you that it is cool and refreshing.  Coke does not spend money telling you to replace your Pepsi bottles.  Likewise, the GOP should work to establish what they stand for:   strong families, prosperity, safety & security.  Keep it simple and say it very often.  Let individual politicians fill in the details.   The goal should be to get 60% of voters to choose straight-ticket ‘R’ in each election.

    • #12
  13. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    One podcaster summed it up by saying, “The Republicans need a better selling point than ‘We’re not Democrats.’ ”  I have to agree.  Voters have shown they will elect Democrats if Republicans don’t deliver, so another Contract With America is a good idea . . .

    • #13
  14. Hang On Member
    Hang On
    @HangOn

    McConnell is essentially wanting no accountability. And don’t you just love his quote – “when **I** win back the Senate.” Perfectly sums him up and will be a good thing when Republicans see the back of him.

    • #14
  15. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    Steven Seward (View Comment):
    From the perspective of simply winning elections, I don’t think the Republicans need to put out an agenda or do anything in particular.  They are so far ahead in the opinion polls that they can literally rest on their laurels.

    I disagree.  I understand where you;re coming from (I think), but that will just get a hollow victory characterized by the likes of McConnell saying “we only have one-half of one third” and complaining that there’s no political mandate for him to do a damned thing.  If we cannot get rid of McConnell (but thanks as always for the Supreme Court work!), then we must support him so very well that he has no excuse for inaction.  And this minority-leading cockroach seems timeless.

    There are two sports analogies.  One is to football, wherein a team well ahead close to the bell simply runs out the clock — risking as little as possible.  This is overwhelmingly safe.  Another analogy is to a ring fight (boxing, MMA, whatnot) where making up for a points deficit doesn’t take a chipping and sanding approach — everything can change with one punch.  Points ahead don’t matter when you wake up staring at the ceiling.

    Remember that Trump was walking away with 2020 until 2020 actually happened.

    • #15
  16. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    Victor Tango Kilo (View Comment):

    It doesn’t really address the GOP’s credibility problem. New Gingrich’s Contract with America was almost 30 years ago. The problem with the GOP since then has been an absolute failure to keep any of their pledges apart from tax cuts. “Repeal and Replace Obamacare? Nah. Secure the Border? Big Nah. Fiscal responsibility? Most certainly Nah.”

    We all know that should the GOP win the House (the Senate’s most likely out of reach), we’re just in for two more years of “We only have one half of one branch of Government. How can you expect us to do anything?”

    Zackly.

    • #16
  17. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    McConnell seems to remember things his way — well the Tea Party remembers it differently.

    Kelly D Johnston:

    And McConnell isn’t just thinking about the 2022 elections. He’s thinking about what happens afterward when he recaptures the title “Majority Leader.” He likely doesn’t want to limit options or tie them to an agenda that may not be achievable in a Senate that requires 60 votes to pass any legislative item other than budget and reconciliation bills. After all, there are elections in 2024, when presidential nominees set the agenda. Hold your horses. And 2026 is just around the corner. Forward-thinking.

    First, Newt’s Contract With America promised to hold a vote on ten matters within the first hundred days, IIRC.  They did not give themselves trapdoors for non-accomplishment (see Boehner and Ryan’s BS about “returning to 2008 spending levels”).  Instead, the 1994 Army of Newt made promises that were utterly within their power to keep.

    Second, McConnell had little to do with taking the Senate in 2014 or whenever he says he did this remarkable thing.  The much-maligned Tea Party who somehow failed to deliver the Senate in 2010, please recall, only fell short by two seats after giving the Senate ten seats!  In 2009 the GOP was down by a million points in the Senate, historic lows (39 seats IIRC?) and the Tea Party closed that deficit to I think one seat in one year.  Something like that.  McConnell and Boehner both proclaimed their love of the flyover schmuck and then started screwing us again.  ObamaCare is still here, and 2008 spending levels might as well be the Apollo program.

    I am unable to lay hands on a book around here which is a report card on CWA from ten years after.  Wish I could find it.  Good book.  That report card was sober, factual, and made the case for our need for such a contract now.

    And our new CWA should be based on timeless principles, or else we’re just chasing failure around the room.  I hear Newt is working with Trump for a new CWA.  Well some years ago he wrote “A 21st Century CWA”, and Heaven knows, Newt’s been writing books ever since leaving office.  Probaly some good stuff in there.

    Is it too silly, too fantastic now to even try to speak of cutting spending?

    That Trump would recruit Gingrich for a new contract-style agenda suggests that in exile from Washington, D.C., and with 2022 and 2024 in view, the former president is attempting to build what his previous campaigns for the presidency lacked: A policy platform every Republican could run on.

    The Blaze

    There may be meat in this sandwich.

    • #17
  18. Old Bathos Moderator
    Old Bathos
    @OldBathos

    The Contract With America was also a legislative blueprint for fast action.  While it is true that the House can move with a simple majority, that majority is not automatically mobilized.  Committee chairmen and senior members with lots of chits in their pockets can throw sand in the gears or insert preferred priorities.  The Contract meant that America would be watching to see if it were honored and compelled legislative priorities, most of which were accomplished in the 100-day window.  The Founders tilted the deck in favor of inertia so giving a boost to good stuff is important.

    One of my cherished memories of 1995 was the shock and horror of enviro lobbyists that Congress could act on Clean Air Act issues without waiting for the greenies to have meetings at a leisurely pace and then speak ex cathedra about any pending bill before any action was undertaken. What?!! They voted it out of committee already?!  How dare they?

    The problem with passively waiting for Democrats to stupidly deliver a majority to the GOP in 2022 is that there is not a lot of mileage or momentum in simply not being the other guy. 

    Obviously, it is not helpful if the list is too edgy, controversial, and narrowly partisan but there are clear winning positions on border & immigration, energy and the woke intrusion in education.  There are available polling winners. 

    The strategy is not just to craft a set of positions that poll well but to force the Democrats to take positions in opposition to popular positions, to strip the center and the normals away from endorsing the goals of the hard left.

    • #18
  19. DrewInWisconsin, Oaf Member
    DrewInWisconsin, Oaf
    @DrewInWisconsin

    James Lileks (View Comment):

    Gossamer Cat (View Comment):
    I will tell you right now that I will support no candidate, PAC or other organization whose appeal starts with “Do you want to stop Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer and the Democrat’s radical agenda?”

    Agreed. That’s boilerplate PAC mass-mailing grift-o-speak aimed at the people who click on the ads that say “Should Biden Be Impeached? Vote Now!”

    I argued with an NRCC Phone-bot for about ten minutes the other night, because the Phone-bot was all loaded up with boilerplate statements it was using to try to nag a donation out of me, and I was trying to throw it off-script. (Phone-bots from the right always seem to be given a friendly southern accent. I find that a bit offensive.) I thought I could break the Phone-bot, but it soldiered on for quite awhile, frequently saying “Uh, sure,” or “Yes” or “I understand,” before rebooting the “begging for money” track.

    It was fun while it lasted. My family thought I was nuts, though.

    • #19
  20. genferei Member
    genferei
    @genferei

    McConnell seems to have arrogated to himself a passel of power over the party, including substantial war chest he can use to primary candidates that don’t appeal to him. Is there no way he can be held accountable?

    • #20
  21. DrewInWisconsin, Oaf Member
    DrewInWisconsin, Oaf
    @DrewInWisconsin

    genferei (View Comment):

    McConnell seems to have arrogated to himself a passel of power over the party, including substantial war chest he can use to primary candidates that don’t appeal to him. Is there no way he can be held accountable?

    Depends. Are we going to stick with just legal ways?

    • #21
  22. Steven Seward Member
    Steven Seward
    @StevenSeward

    BDB (View Comment):

    Steven Seward (View Comment):
    From the perspective of simply winning elections, I don’t think the Republicans need to put out an agenda or do anything in particular. They are so far ahead in the opinion polls that they can literally rest on their laurels.

    I disagree. I understand where you;re coming from (I think), but that will just get a hollow victory characterized by the likes of McConnell saying “we only have one-half of one third” and complaining that there’s no political mandate for him to do a damned thing.

    I understand “hollow victory,” but winning the election and getting your candidates to legislate the conservative agenda are two different issues.

    • #22
  23. Steven Seward Member
    Steven Seward
    @StevenSeward

    BDB (View Comment):

    Remember that Trump was walking away with 2020 until 2020 actually happened

    I don’t remember Trump ever walking away with the election.  I thought the polls were pretty evenly split.

    • #23
  24. Steven Seward Member
    Steven Seward
    @StevenSeward

    BDB (View Comment):

    Is it too silly, too fantastic now to even try to speak of cutting spending?

    Yes, even Republicans will laugh you out of the room.  However, I’ll be right there with you promoting a balanced budget!

    • #24
  25. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Old Bathos (View Comment):
    The strategy is not just to craft a set of positions that poll well but to force the Democrats to take positions in opposition to popular positions, to strip the center and the normals away from endorsing the goals of the hard left.

    !

    • #25
  26. Gossamer Cat Coolidge
    Gossamer Cat
    @GossamerCat

    Steven Seward (View Comment):

    BDB (View Comment):

    Steven Seward (View Comment):
    From the perspective of simply winning elections, I don’t think the Republicans need to put out an agenda or do anything in particular. They are so far ahead in the opinion polls that they can literally rest on their laurels.

    I disagree. I understand where you;re coming from (I think), but that will just get a hollow victory characterized by the likes of McConnell saying “we only have one-half of one third” and complaining that there’s no political mandate for him to do a damned thing.

    I understand “hollow victory,” but winning the election and getting your candidates to legislate the conservative agenda are two different issues.

    They are, but we saw what happened when Trump was elected.  There was a historic opportunity to pass legislation that could have eliminated the need for Executive Orders on health care, immigration, energy, regulatory burden, etc., all of which got rolled back in the next administration.  But they did nothing- all they told us was “Well, we don’t have a filibuster proof majority” so you just have to elect more of us the next time.  But the next time never came, did it?  So at least if we elect people based on a platform, we would have some sense that the Republican party has some strategy for this if and when such an opportunity is presented again.  Right now, 2024 looks like it could be that opportunity.

    • #26
  27. GLDIII Purveyor of Splendid Malpropisms Reagan
    GLDIII Purveyor of Splendid Malpropisms
    @GLDIII

    DrewInWisconsin, Oaf (View Comment):

    James Lileks (View Comment):

    Gossamer Cat (View Comment):
    I will tell you right now that I will support no candidate, PAC or other organization whose appeal starts with “Do you want to stop Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer and the Democrat’s radical agenda?”

    Agreed. That’s boilerplate PAC mass-mailing grift-o-speak aimed at the people who click on the ads that say “Should Biden Be Impeached? Vote Now!”

    I argued with an NRCC Phone-bot for about ten minutes the other night, because the Phone-bot was all loaded up with boilerplate statements it was using to try to nag a donation out of me, and I was trying to throw it off-script. (Phone-bots from the right always seem to be given a friendly southern accent. I find that a bit offensive.) I thought I could break the Phone-bot, but it soldiered on for quite awhile, frequently saying “Uh, sure,” or “Yes” or “I understand,” before rebooting the “begging for money” track.

    It was fun while it lasted. My family thought I was nuts, though.

    In this case it is hard to question family.

    • #27
  28. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    DrewInWisconsin, Oaf (View Comment):

    James Lileks (View Comment):

    Gossamer Cat (View Comment):
    I will tell you right now that I will support no candidate, PAC or other organization whose appeal starts with “Do you want to stop Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer and the Democrat’s radical agenda?”

    Agreed. That’s boilerplate PAC mass-mailing grift-o-speak aimed at the people who click on the ads that say “Should Biden Be Impeached? Vote Now!”

    I argued with an NRCC Phone-bot for about ten minutes the other night, because the Phone-bot was all loaded up with boilerplate statements it was using to try to nag a donation out of me, and I was trying to throw it off-script. (Phone-bots from the right always seem to be given a friendly southern accent. I find that a bit offensive.) I thought I could break the Phone-bot, but it soldiered on for quite awhile, frequently saying “Uh, sure,” or “Yes” or “I understand,” before rebooting the “begging for money” track.

    It was fun while it lasted. My family thought I was nuts, though.

     They don’t call me anymore after I screamed at them. I was back during the Bush era.

    • #28
  29. Gary Robbins Reagan
    Gary Robbins
    @GaryRobbins

    Douglas Pratt (View Comment):

    navyjag (View Comment):

    Short answer is yes. You know all the personalities. Just thinking about what worked in Virginia. So no more than 5 points:

    1. Take back the public schools. Teacher’s union vs. the parents. Worked in Virginia. Might even work in San Francisco.
    2. Take back the border. We have enough poor people. Let’s take care of them first.
    3. Take back energy independence. Frack and frack some more. We can fill up our tanks for less than $5 a gallon without Russian oil.
    4. Take back law enforcement. Fund the cops. Jail the criminals.
    5. Support small business. Screw Big Tech and Wall Street. Help the regular folks that barely survived the pandemic. Less regulation. Probably Trump’s biggest accomplishment.

    I can’t imagine a better platform than this right here.

    I agree with navyjag and Douglas Pratt.  Good job.  I would word #4 a bit differently, as in saying that we are against “defunding the police.”  I would also add opposition to CRT, and perhaps a support to girls’ sports, relative to Trans-girls (biological men) beating all of the biological girls.

    • #29
  30. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    Steven Seward (View Comment):

    BDB (View Comment):

    Steven Seward (View Comment):
    From the perspective of simply winning elections, I don’t think the Republicans need to put out an agenda or do anything in particular. They are so far ahead in the opinion polls that they can literally rest on their laurels.

    I disagree. I understand where you;re coming from (I think), but that will just get a hollow victory characterized by the likes of McConnell saying “we only have one-half of one third” and complaining that there’s no political mandate for him to do a damned thing.

    I understand “hollow victory,” but winning the election and getting your candidates to legislate the conservative agenda are two different issues.

    Yes, very.

    • #30
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