The conservative minority in Congress, which includes the Freedom Caucus and a handful of others who are conservatives but who haven’t officially joined the unofficial collection of right-wingers in the House of Representatives, will be watching new Speaker of the House Paul Ryan very closely. Is he going to follow in the tragic footsteps of his predecessor John Boehner in an attempt to placate the conservatives or will he truly allow them to have a voice and therefore give Congress a true conscience?
While many are already beyond skeptical about the moderate Ryan, the majority of the Freedom Caucus relented after making undisclosed promises to the minority group. Unfortunately, two things already do not bode well for him, the House of Representatives, the conservative wing, or the country itself.
First, he certainly made deals with others in Congress. To get the quick support he needed and to have the unified voice that he declared was a requirement for him to run, he likely had to talk out of both sides of his mouth. To the Freedom Caucus, he had to promise a voice in decision-making. To certain parts of the rest of the Republican party majority in the House, he had to promise to rein in the renegade right-wingers.
Second, his words are already betraying the concept of placation rather than cooperation. Here’s what he said to the body after receiving the gavel. We’ve put the key statements and language in bold.
“We need to let every member contribute — not once they have earned their stripes but right now,” Ryan said. “Open up the process. Let people participate. And they might change their tune. A neglected minority will gum up the works. A respected minority will work in good faith.”
Why does the Freedom Caucus need to change its tune? Why do they have to work in good faith? It certainly sounds like the kind of placating language that sends the wrong message. That message is this: Congress isn’t going to embrace conservative values with its Republican majority. It’s going to figure out how to keep conservatives from objecting to moderate perspectives.
Some might look at this and think that it’s fair. Since the majority of Republicans in Congress are moderates, that moderate voice should determine directions. However, the country is in desperate need of stronger conservatism. The effective Congress of the mid-90s didn’t placate and despite having even fewer true conservatives, they were able to enact very conservative legislation. With the current President, moderate deals are logically the only possible forward movement, but the logic only works on the surface. Dig deeper and one quickly realizes that the GOP-controlled House and Senate means that if the President wants anything substantial to happen in his final year in office, he’s the one who must start making deals.
A strong Congress can save this country. It requires conservative concepts leading the way, not being pushed aside as fringe ideas that won’t work because of the President’s veto power. If anything, they should be forcing the President to veto as often as possible so close to the election. Doing so can help the Republicans win back the White House in 2016.