If ongoing disagreements between the old GOP guard and junior lawmakers are any indication, there’s a rift in the Republican Party that isn’t going to be resolved anytime in the near future.
Junior Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) took to the floor of his legislative chamber last month to vocally express his distrust of establishment members of his own Party.
Cruz’s remarks were in response to Senator John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) suggestion that it was absurd for Senate members of the GOP to object to going to conference with House Republicans to get budget negotiations underway.
“Isn’t it a little bizarre, this whole exercise?” McCain proclaimed after Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) objected to starting the negotiations. “What we’re saying is that we don’t trust our colleagues on the other side of the Capitol.”
McCain has continuously accused a fringe minority of conservatives in the GOP of blocking legislative progress on all manner of issues Congress is under public pressure to address.
In matters of economic legislation, however, conservative fiscal hawks in the GOP have a legitimate retort for McCain: Budget talks occurring over the past few years have revealed that Republican lawmakers — especially in House leadership positions — are certainly not unwilling to cede to Democrat demands, with the supposed promise of benefits to conservatives in other areas.
“The senior senator of Arizona urged senators to trust House Republicans… and frankly, I don’t trust Republicans,” Cruz said. “It’s the leaders of both parties that got us in this mess. … A lot of Republicans were complicit in this spending spree.”
An even more pronounced example of ideological sparring within the GOP has concerning recent revelations of vast assaults on Constitutionally protected rights — in the form of differing opinions about whether exposing government secrets is free speech and about whether the spying is even a Constitutional problem.
Some notables erring on the side of fascism are the McCain, Representative Peter King (R-N.Y.), Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who have all responded to conservative concerns about government snooping and transparency in ways that would make White House press secretary Jay Carney beam with pride.
McConnell believes that safety must trump freedom — and that those who dare betray the Federal government’s secrecy must be dealt with as harshly as possible by the state.
“I hope that he is prosecuted to the full extent of the law,” McConnell said, addressing reporter questions about the supposed National Security Agency leaker, 29-year-old Edward Snowden.
And Americans shouldn’t be worried; McConnell and his colleagues are keeping an eye on things for you.
“In response to the leaks of sensitive classified information, the director of national intelligence has declassified a good deal of information to the public to explain the programs in question,” he said. “What is clear from this information released by the DNI is that each of these programs is authorized by law, overseen by Congress and the courts and subject to ongoing and rigorous oversight.”
Besides, as Graham put it: If you aren’t doing anything wrong, who cares if the government is disobeying the supreme law of the land to spy on you?
Graham told FOX News recently: “I am glad the NSA is trying to find out what terrorists are up to overseas and inside the country.”
Later in the interview, he opined: “I’m a Verizon customer. I don’t mind Verizon turning over records to the government if the government is going to make sure that they try to match up a known terrorist phone with somebody in the United States.
“I don’t think you’re talking to terrorists, I know you’re not, I know I’m not, so we don’t have anything to worry about,” Graham told the host. “I’m glad the activity’s going on, but it is limited to tracking people who are suspected to be terrorists and who they may be talking to.”
Unlike McConnell, Graham claims that he had no idea the NSA was collecting American communication information en masse until the press broke the story.
It’s not surprising that Graham has little use for 4th Amendment protections — because he goes to great pains to make sure the public is aware of his paltry regard for most of the provisions included in the Bill of Rights.
Like recently, when he mused about whether bloggers deserve 1st Amendment protections if they happen to write articles that piss in the legislative Cheerios: “Who is a journalist is a question we have to ask ourselves. Is any blogger out there saying anything? Do they deserve First Amendment protection? These are the issues of our times.”
Bloggers subsequently freaked out, and Graham tried to backtrack.
Also speaking about the relationship between the 1st Amendment and revealing government actions that have the potential to create public unease, King was amazingly able to one-up Graham in totalitarian appeal: To hell with it, let’s even strip the people we consider to be members of the “legitimate news media” of the 1st Amendment protections designed for the very purpose of keeping the government in check.
King said that reporters who published whistle-blower documents should be pursued with the same vigor by government prosecutors as the whistle-blowers themselves.
“If they willingly knew that this was classified information, I think action should be taken, especially on something of this magnitude,” King said.
“I think on something of this magnitude, there is an obligation both moral but also legal, I believe, against a reporter disclosing something that would so severely compromise national security.”
King is a little late to the party, though, as his suggestion is reminiscent of the way in which President Barack Obama already deals with people who get in the way of Federal supremacy.
Cruz may be in the minority as a lawmaker who doesn’t trust the members of his own Party while he is surrounded by his colleagues on Capitol Hill — but on America’s Main Street, far removed from Washington’s marbled halls, he’s part of a growing conservative majority. American conservatives know all too well how dangerous it is to ascribe trust to the current GOP brand.
And while the Texas Republican is not a favorite of the Party leadership, he isn’t completely alone. Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) recently proposed a longshot to do exactly the opposite of what many of his fellow Republicans feel is right: strengthen American’s 1st and 4th Amendment protections.
“The revelation that the NSA has secretly seized the call records of millions of Americans, without probable cause, represents an outrageous abuse of power and a violation of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution. I have long argued that Congress must do more to restrict the executive’s expansive law enforcement powers to seize private records of law-abiding Americans that are held by a third-party,” Paul said when introducing his bill, the “Fourth Amendment Restoration Act of 2013.”
No doubt Cruz and Paul are outnumbered; but as the Constitution hangs in the balance, American conservatives can only hope that the underdogs are prepared for an endurance fight.