Friday, August 19, 2016

Why wasn't there more widespread, principled conservative opposition to Trump in Congress?

When Representative Mark Meadows filed his motion to vacate the chair, effectively calling for the removal of John Boehner as speaker of the House, he accused the Republican leader of constricting the legislative process, consolidating power atop the party, and — worst of all to Meadows and other restive conservatives —using “the power of the office to punish Members who vote according to their conscience instead of the will of the Speaker.”
That was in July 2015. One year later, activists from around the country were organizing support for a rule that would allow delegates at the Republican National Convention to vote their conscience in choosing the party’s presidential nominee — and give Republicans a last-ditch opportunity to dump Donald Trump. Meadows, in his second term representing North Carolina’s 11th district, did not support the effort. “We’re a nation of laws and a party of rules,” he said in an interview prior to the convention.
This sentiment was shared by his colleagues in the House Freedom Caucus, a club of 39 tea-party-inspired Republican lawmakers who have shown zero tolerance for moderation or compromise during Barack Obama’s presidency, alienating GOP leaders by prioritizing ideological purity over partisan unity. These conservatives have little in common with Trump, and just one of the 39 endorsed him during the primary. But none of them publicly supported the effort to defeat Trump in Cleveland — even though he makes Boehner look like Edmund Burke by comparison, and despite the fact that delegates were seeking the same freedom to vote their conscience that House conservatives had demanded for themselves.
The parallel is imperfect — representatives have historically been permitted by party leadership to vote their conscience, while convention delegates are traditionally bound to vote in accordance with the result of their state’s primary or caucus — yet instructive in debating a question that is fundamental to understanding the implications of 2016: Why wasn’t there widespread, principled conservative opposition to Trump?
Read the rest of Tim Alberta's op-ed HERE.

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