Freedom Caucus: Troublemakers or Troopers?

 

When the Freedom Caucus first organized in 2015, my perception was that they were a group of overly conservative troublemakers. They rebelled against House leadership, took controversial stands, and raised  havoc overall. But lately my perception has been changing. The Freedom Caucus may be just what this country needs.

According to Pew Research, the Freedom Caucus began with about 36 members. They don’t publish a list of their members, so the identities and numbers have fluctuated over time. They are known as the most conservative of the House Republicans, although every member doesn’t fit that description. Pew Research describes them in this way:

The group, which includes many veterans of the Tea Party movement, was formed in January [2015] with the declared aim of pushing the House GOP leadership rightward on certain fiscal and social issues. More broadly, the caucus wants power shifted away from the leadership to the rank-and-file (by, for instance, giving committees more leeway on which bills to move forward and allowing more amendments to come to floor votes).

Early on, they defied John Boehner, who finally left in exasperation. When they didn’t back Kevin McCarthy for House Majority Leader, he pulled out of the race. So the Freedom Caucus has made its presence felt.

I began to shift my perspective about the Freedom Caucus and one of its leaders, Jim Jordan, for two reasons. One reason was that my view of Jim Jordan had changed dramatically. Even before the Caucus first formed, I saw Jim Jordan on television a number of times. He seemed arrogant and happy to be in front of the camera. Most recently, however, Kimberley Strassel in her book The Intimidation Game explained why she was impressed by Jim Jordan’s doggedness and sincerity demonstrated by his actions in the investigation of Lois Lerner:

…Jordan felt a personal connection to this outrage and personally spearheaded the probe. That’s unusual for a congressman, as even his staff will admit. Jordan is gracious, and continuously gives credit to a dutiful team that diligently pieced together the IRS intimidation game. It ultimately reviewed more than 1.3 million pages of documents from the IRS, Treasury, Justice, the FEC, the IRS Oversight Board, and TIGTA. It sat through close to fifty-five interviews and did the legwork for endless public hearings. “These guys worked their tails off,” says Jordan, noting that a lot of what he’d learned came from telephone briefings with his team.

From his team:

These are daylong affairs. And he’d be there the whole day, asking questions, picking up inconsistencies, going back on points. It’s really rare to have a congressman do that. He ran this thing.

It appears that Jordan is a driving force in the Freedom Caucus.

The second reason for my new perspective on the Freedom Caucus is the response of several Republicans to them. Many of these frustrated Republicans have stated their dislike and frustration with this new “rabble-rousing” group, particularly when it began proposing changes to the health care legislation. Approaching the latest “skinny bill” proposed by the Senate, the Freedom Caucus remained quiet. When the bill didn’t pass, however, the leadership of the Caucus stated they had a bill waiting in the House that needed serious consideration, and unlike many of their contemporaries, they were looking at a bill that focused on repeal.

When I look at the pathetic efforts of the Senate to pass a health care bill, because they are focused on getting elected the next time around, rather than honoring their promises, I’m taking a much closer look at the Freedom Caucus, and I hope it will be taking more of a leadership role in Congress. I think Republicans have to start acting like Conservatives. They must begin making tough decisions that are consistent with Conservative principles. I believe that the Freedom Caucus may be just the rabble-rousing they need.

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  1. outlaws6688 Inactive
    outlaws6688
    @outlaws6688

    Real conservatives in congress aren’t the problem, it’s the squishes and their defenders like National Review that are the problem.

    • #1
  2. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    outlaws6688 (View Comment):
    Real conservatives in congress aren’t the problem, it’s the squishes and their defenders like National Review that are the problem.

    Well, I partly agree, outlaw. I think that the Republicans, squishes or conservatives, get to take all the responsibility for their votes. They can’t blame the media for that.

    • #2
  3. Guruforhire Member
    Guruforhire
    @Guruforhire

    I think everybody the first whiff of emotional intelligence has accepted that anything reality based isn’t going to be ancap utopia.

    They aren’t even troublemakers, they are just intellectual and emotional defectives without the capacity for cooperative behavior.

    Its one thing to hold out for the best deal possible, its another to let the left govern by default.

    • #3
  4. Trinity Waters Inactive
    Trinity Waters
    @TrinityWaters

    outlaws6688 (View Comment):
    Real conservatives in congress aren’t the problem, it’s the squishes and their defenders like National Review that are the problem.

    Absolutely correct @outlaws6688!  I’m ready for one last try by the GOP to regain its footing.  We must organize robust primary challenges for the Obamacare lovers, at least.  Ryan and McConnel must go, for sure.  If we can’t throw enough of the bums out, and don’t gain seats in the next election, it may be over for this party, and it will morph into the Freedom Party, only allowing members who will swear fealty to personal freedom and who will kick Leviathan in the face.  Fight.  Fight.  Fight!

    • #4
  5. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Guruforhire (View Comment):
    They aren’t even troublemakers, they are just intellectual and emotional defectives without the capacity for cooperative behavior.

    So what do you think about the Freedom Caucus, Guru? They did finally go along at one point, but what if they continue to fight for repeal? I wonder how we sift out “cooperative behavior” with caving in on their promises?

    • #5
  6. outlaws6688 Inactive
    outlaws6688
    @outlaws6688

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    outlaws6688 (View Comment):
    Real conservatives in congress aren’t the problem, it’s the squishes and their defenders like National Review that are the problem.

    Well, I partly agree, outlaw. I think that the Republicans, squishes or conservatives, get to take all the responsibility for their votes. They can’t blame the media for that.

    Unless the squishes are defended in journals like NR after they back stab their side.

    • #6
  7. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Trinity Waters (View Comment):

    outlaws6688 (View Comment):
    Real conservatives in congress aren’t the problem, it’s the squishes and their defenders like National Review that are the problem.

    Absolutely correct @outlaws6688! I’m ready for one last try by the GOP to regain its footing. We must organize robust primary challenges for the Obamacare lovers, at least. Ryan and McConnel must go, for sure. If we can’t throw enough of the bums out, and don’t gain seats in the next election, it may be over for this party, and it will morph into the Freedom Party, only allowing members who will swear fealty to personal freedom and who will kick Leviathan in the face. Fight. Fight. Fight!

    TW, don’t you think the moderate Republicans have to take most of the flack, rather than the media on the Right? I’m reaching a point where I figure the Right, just like the Left, has the right to say what they want (no pun intended). As long as they aren’t lying (as opposed to giving opinions you don’t like), I don’t think we should be blaming them for the poor behavior of our politicians.

    • #7
  8. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Also @trinitywaters , do you think the current Freedom Caucus will be the base of what you’re calling the Freedom Party?

    • #8
  9. Rodin Member
    Rodin
    @Rodin

    I think a lot of the “troublemaker” label has to do with differences over when and how to compromise. On the spectrum of agreement there are three aggregation points: win-win, compromise, no deal. Win-win is great — its basically bartering where you get something you want while supporting something they want, without diminishing anyone’s outcome. This can happen when people think they are in opposition but upon further engagement it turns out they are not. Compromise is a recognition that you are in opposition, but that a deal can be struck whereby each of you don’t get what you want, but decide you can get what you need. No deal is simply a recognition that not only are you in opposition but that you can’t get what you need.

    For too long the definition of bi-partisanship has simply been whatever Progressives want with nominal Republican support. The Freedom Caucus wants to put “No deal” back in play. If it’s not, then where is the basis for compromise?

    • #9
  10. Guruforhire Member
    Guruforhire
    @Guruforhire

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Guruforhire (View Comment):
    They aren’t even troublemakers, they are just intellectual and emotional defectives without the capacity for cooperative behavior.

    So what do you think about the Freedom Caucus, Guru? They did finally go along at one point, but what if they continue to fight for repeal? I wonder how we sift out “cooperative behavior” with caving in on their promises?

    Come on, have you ever known me to be, to any meaningful degree, circumspect?  lol

    The choice isn’t between a whole loaf and a part loaf, its a choice between no loaf and a quarter loaf.  Taking no loaf may be great if your principle objective is to stand around talking about “muh principles,” while never actually advancing those principles.

    Don’t get me started on McCain.  If you think I have a low opinion of the freedom caucus….  That guy.

    • #10
  11. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Rodin (View Comment):
    For too long the definition of bi-partisanship has simply been whatever Progressives want with nominal Republican support. The Freedom Caucus wants to put “No deal” back in play. If it’s not, then where is the basis for compromise.

    Fascinating, Rodin. So are you saying we have to go to “no deal” for now with the Progressives (especially now that we’re in power) and see if we can work our way back eventually to legitimate compromise?

    • #11
  12. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Guruforhire (View Comment):
    Taking no loaf may be great if your principle objective is to stand around talking about “muh principles,” while never actually advancing those principles.

    So, Guru,  you think the Freedom Caucus is just standing around talking about principles? I’m not sure that’s true. If you look at Jim Jordan’s work re Lois Lerner, we found out the truth primarily based on his hard work. The Caucus is now talking about pinging on the Judiciary Committee to start addressing the crimes that were committed by her and others that the Dems ignored. Remember–the Caucus are junior folks, so their seniors aren’t so willing to take them seriously. But I think they will–and soon!

    • #12
  13. Guruforhire Member
    Guruforhire
    @Guruforhire

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Guruforhire (View Comment):
    Taking no loaf may be great if your principle objective is to stand around talking about “muh principles,” while never actually advancing those principles.

    So, Guru, you think the Freedom Caucus is just standing around talking about principles? I’m not sure that’s true. If you look at Jim Jordan’s work re Lois Lerner, we found out the truth primarily based on his hard work. The Caucus is now talking about pinging on the Judiciary Committee to start addressing the crimes that were committed by her and others that the Dems ignored. Remember–the Caucus are junior folks, so their seniors aren’t so willing to take them seriously. But I think they will–and soon!

    You may be cooling my hot heart with a fresh island song.

    • #13
  14. outlaws6688 Inactive
    outlaws6688
    @outlaws6688

    In the house you are not a conservative unless you are part of the Freedom Caucus and some of those are really iffy too. Just my opinion.

    • #14
  15. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    outlaws6688 (View Comment):
    In the house you are not a conservative unless you are part of the Freedom Caucus and some of those are really iffy too. Just my opinion.

    I think some of them are not conservative, outlaw (maybe they’re wanna-be’s) and some won’t confess that are in the FC. At one point, Darrell Issa wouldn’t say. I assume some people don’t want to be branded. And Rand Paul doesn’t appear to be in the current list. But I hope that soon it will be brand of honor to be associated with them!

    • #15
  16. Trinity Waters Inactive
    Trinity Waters
    @TrinityWaters

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Trinity Waters (View Comment):

    outlaws6688 (View Comment):
    Real conservatives in congress aren’t the problem, it’s the squishes and their defenders like National Review that are the problem.

    Absolutely correct @outlaws6688! I’m ready for one last try by the GOP to regain its footing. We must organize robust primary challenges for the Obamacare lovers, at least. Ryan and McConnel must go, for sure. If we can’t throw enough of the bums out, and don’t gain seats in the next election, it may be over for this party, and it will morph into the Freedom Party, only allowing members who will swear fealty to personal freedom and who will kick Leviathan in the face. Fight. Fight. Fight!

    TW, don’t you think the moderate Republicans have to take most of the flack, rather than the media on the Right? I’m reaching a point where I figure the Right, just like the Left, has the right to say what they want (no pun intended). As long as they aren’t lying (as opposed to giving opinions you don’t like), I don’t think we should be blaming them for the poor behavior of our politicians.

    In general this is true, however I was responding in particular to the mention of NR, the leader of the NT pack.

    • #16
  17. Trinity Waters Inactive
    Trinity Waters
    @TrinityWaters

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    Also @trinitywaters , do you think the current Freedom Caucus will be the base of what you’re calling the Freedom Party?

    Hard to say at this early point.  The members of that caucus in general espouse personal freedom and fight the Feds, so maybe.  What I expect is that the new party will attract many current Republicans, and that it will be much more pointed about the party’s policy basis.  Trump may be paving the way for outsiders to actually come to DC, temporarily, and represent the citizens.

    • #17
  18. Rodin Member
    Rodin
    @Rodin

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Rodin (View Comment):
    For too long the definition of bi-partisanship has simply been whatever Progressives want with nominal Republican support. The Freedom Caucus wants to put “No deal” back in play. If it’s not, then where is the basis for compromise.

    Fascinating, Rodin. So are you saying we have to go to “no deal” for now with the Progressives (especially now that we’re in power) and see if we can work our way back eventually to legitimate compromise?

    Yes. In general Progressives see little reason to (and a lot of evil in) agree(ing) to anything conservatives desire. So why give anything to them if you get nothing in return other than their public approbation (for agreeing with them) and private scorn.

    • #18
  19. Tyrion Lannister Member
    Tyrion Lannister
    @TyrionLannister

    outlaws6688 (View Comment):
    Real conservatives in congress aren’t the problem, it’s the squishes and their defenders like National Review that are the problem.

    Yes, the National Review are only center right.  And they are further right than Trump, so I hope you are lumping the great orange savior in with them as part of the problem.

    • #19
  20. outlaws6688 Inactive
    outlaws6688
    @outlaws6688

    Tyrion Lannister (View Comment):

    outlaws6688 (View Comment):
    Real conservatives in congress aren’t the problem, it’s the squishes and their defenders like National Review that are the problem.

    Yes, the National Review are only center right. And they are further right than Trump, so I hope you are lumping the great orange savior in with them as part of the problem.

    I agree he is not a conservative in the traditional sense, but what action has he taken that hasn’t been conservative to date?

    • #20
  21. Could Be Anyone Member
    Could Be Anyone
    @CouldBeAnyone

    outlaws6688 (View Comment):

    Tyrion Lannister (View Comment):

    outlaws6688 (View Comment):
    Real conservatives in congress aren’t the problem, it’s the squishes and their defenders like National Review that are the problem.

    Yes, the National Review are only center right. And they are further right than Trump, so I hope you are lumping the great orange savior in with them as part of the problem.

    I agree he is not a conservative in the traditional sense, but what action has he taken that hasn’t been conservative to date?

    Allowing DACA to remain is a very unconservative action to take.

    • #21
  22. outlaws6688 Inactive
    outlaws6688
    @outlaws6688

    Could Be Anyone (View Comment):

    outlaws6688 (View Comment):

    Tyrion Lannister (View Comment):

    outlaws6688 (View Comment):
    Real conservatives in congress aren’t the problem, it’s the squishes and their defenders like National Review that are the problem.

    Yes, the National Review are only center right. And they are further right than Trump, so I hope you are lumping the great orange savior in with them as part of the problem.

    I agree he is not a conservative in the traditional sense, but what action has he taken that hasn’t been conservative to date?

    Allowing DACA to remain is a very unconservative action to take.

    No and I have criticized him for that but on immigration he is more conservative than anyone but Cruz so far. Also, I have have liked most of his decisions on this even if he is not perfect. I am of the mind that this is most I can ask for of a Republican president in this current climate. He is opening a door to debate on this issue which to a lot of us has seem closed for too long now.

    • #22
  23. I Walton Member
    I Walton
    @IWalton

    We’re told what is feasible or not by the same political types who tell our candidates to run from the middle.  They do polling that has no meaning.  What is feasible responds to clear leadership of simple narratives.   The weak duplicitous frauds who simply don’t want to change anything that gives them power and more money to spend and the pusillanimous empty headed go alongs use the refrain that “the people don’t want to lose their entitlements, or Obamacare is more popular now, or few really want things to change” as an excuse to do nothing.  We need new leadership in the Hill but above all the President must put forth the outlines of a proposal that is far reaching.  He wouldn’t just ask builders to make him a nice building.  The builders get the blue print very late in the game.  So he knows how this works, he just doesn’t understand Congress yet.  They are cats that can be turned into sheep then herded.

    • #23
  24. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    I Walton (View Comment):
    We need new leadership in the Hill but above all the President must put forth the outlines of a proposal that is far reaching. He wouldn’t just ask builders to make him a nice building. The builders get the blue print very late in the game. So he knows how this works, he just doesn’t understand Congress yet. They are cats that can be turned into sheep then herded.

    We’re all seeing along with Trump, I Walton, that developing relationships with Congress is complicated and sometimes nuanced; at other times I think they need to be hit over the head. Unfortunately, this is where his lack of governing experience is limiting his effectiveness. That’s why I like the idea of the Freedom Caucus–a group that can show leadership, push things through and put the final product on Trump’s desk. But again, they’re not in leadership roles–yet.

    • #24
  25. RyanFalcone Member
    RyanFalcone
    @RyanFalcone

    As far as I can remember, the status quo has been the Democrats proposing communism and the Republicans talking them down to mere socialism. Our culture and governance has made it to the point where adults are needed in places of power to make very painful and difficult decisions to get us back on the right track. The Freedom Caucus and the handful of conservatives in the Senate are the only adults we have in our government. Without them, Trump would be no better than Bill Clinton. We all owe a debt of gratitude to them and their constituents. May their numbers grow.

    • #25
  26. Columbo Member
    Columbo
    @Columbo

    The dem socialist/media/industrial complex has conspired over decades to define “centrist” as just to the right of Mao. As a part of that subterfuge, they have defined “freedom” (Caucus or otherwise) as an extreme, right-wing unacceptable worldview, rather than as the “adult in the room” logical Constitutionally-ordained governance that it is.

    And most unfortunately, a large segment of the elected representatives of the Opposition Party (yes, GOP, that would be You!) are weak-willed, feckless and scared to death of how the dem socialist/media/industrial complex will write about them if they don’t behave as instructed and attack the Freedom Caucus like every other politically correct zombie must do.

    • #26
  27. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    RyanFalcone (View Comment):
    As far as I can remember, the status quo has been the Democrats proposing communism and the Republicans talking them down to mere socialism. Our culture and governance has made it to the point where adults are needed in places of power to make very painful and difficult decisions to get us back on the right track. The Freedom Caucus and the handful of conservatives in the Senate are the only adults we have in our government. Without them, Trump would be no better than Bill Clinton. We all owe a debt of gratitude to them and their constituents. May their numbers grow.

    Hear! Hear! @ryanfalcone , I’m hearing two messages from their colleagues, though. Those who support them speak about them like you and I do. But others are going to rant that Congress will get no work done because they won’t compromise. How do we bridge that conflict?

    • #27
  28. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Columbo (View Comment):
    The dem socialist/media/industrial complex has conspired over decades to define “centrist” as just to the right of Mao. As a part of that subterfuge, they have defined “freedom” (Caucus or otherwise) as an extreme, right-wing unacceptable worldview, rather than as the “adult in the room” logical Constitutionally-ordained governance that it is.

    And most unfortunately, a large segment of the elected representatives of the Opposition Party (yes, GOP, that would be You!) are weak-willed, feckless and scared to death of how the dem socialist/media/industrial complex will write about them if they don’t behave as instructed and attack the Freedom Caucus like every other politically correct zombie must do.

    Don’t you love seeing us in concert with each other, @columbo? Well said! But look at the comment #27 that I posed to Ryan–how will we get anything done? Do you think the Freedom Caucus will be able to drag their Rep colleagues, kicking and screaming to make the tough decisions, or will the hand-wringers keep blaming them for the lack of decision-making?

    • #28
  29. RyanFalcone Member
    RyanFalcone
    @RyanFalcone

    Susan, I think that both perspectives have merit. The purpose of the House is to govern. The Freedom Caucus is admittedly making that very difficult. Negotiation is a very ugly process when two parties do it from positions of strength. That hasn’t been the case in Congress for almost 80 years! What the Freedom Caucus represents is a cold front blowing across a landscape that has been a desert for generations. A storm is inevitable and we haven’t seen a storm like this since the 60’s. What we need is a leader who can work effectively with both the Freedom Caucus and the moderate Republicans while also growing the conservative movement among independents. Trump has proven to be incapable of it. Our only hope is that the true conservatives can massage Trumps ego effectively enough to keep his confidence so they can utilize his strengths. He can be a huge success if he is utilized effectively. There are several solid, true conservatives coming up the ranks that are young and energetic.

    • #29
  30. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    RyanFalcone (View Comment):
    A storm is inevitable and we haven’t seen a storm like this since the 60’s. What we need is a leader who can work effectively with both the Freedom Caucus and the moderate Republicans while also growing the conservative movement among independents.

    You are so right, Ryan! The leadership of the Freedom Caucus are just what the doctor ordered! I think we do need to assume that the battle/storm will be fierce, but you and I are ready to take that on. I want to fight for conservatism! I hope a leader will emerge to bring all those groups together. Hopefully this is the perfect storm, in the best sense of the word.

    • #30

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