We may never know what really happened with Kevin McCarthy’s Speaker bid, but we all know the rumor. I will not give any of it credence by linking, but there are accusations of an affair. Depending on the source, the rumor originated somewhere inside the Obama administration (well, one source I have seen) or from a hard line conservative operative (more than one source for that one). On Hugh’s show Friday (Hughniverse subscription required) Fred Barnes, exceptionally well sourced on this, said that in the modern internet age the reality of such a rumor is immaterial. Barnes thought that the mere accusation would put the rumor’s subject and his/her family through such a living nightmare as to be sufficient for blackmail material. I think Barnes has one heck of a point.
Now comes two articles to which I will link. One from Debra Saunders on Real Clear Politics about those leaving the so-called “Freedom Caucus.” These are xtremely conservative and independent individuals who walked out of the caucus because as Tom McClintock is quoted, “A common theme through each of these incidents is a willingness — indeed, an eagerness — to strip the House Republican majority of its ability to set the House agenda,….” The other is a NYTimes piece about the purported aims of the “Freedom Caucus” that closes with this quote from one of its members, “During the last two or three weeks, it’s the first time I actually felt that my vote and my voice actually matters,….”
Assume the rumors that the source of the rumor is a hard line conservative operative are true, though I certainly have no idea if they are. Then the so-called “Freedom Caucus” is achieving its aims through blackmail. Now recall that Tom McClintock says those aims are to overcome majoritarian rule. So much for their name, can you imagine anything short of prison that is less free? And yet, the Times quote indicates that they seem to be feeling pretty good about all of this.
Again, this is rumor, and rumors about rumor – but it is being discussed. Back to Barnes’ point, in this Internet age rumors do a lot of damage. So, regardless of what actually went down here, the “Freedom Caucus” has played loose enough with this to seriously damage the conservative and the Republican brand. These rumors play precisely into the Democrat narratives about conservatives and Republicans. Reality entirely withstanding, the lack of party discipline here is damaging us at extraordinary levels.
So, two take-aways. The first, party discipline matters. Being Republicans, there are limits to what we will do to achieve it. John Boehner and Mitch McConnell are nowhere near the strong arm artists that Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are, nor should they be. But we do need to find less coercive ways to achieve the necessary discipline.
But the more important take-away is that we are in danger of losing our soul. Consider Proverbs 11:13-14:
Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets,
but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing covered.
Where there is no guidance, a people falls,
but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.
Something really ugly is gong on in all of this. Such ugliness threatens us in ways far more impactful than just the direction of the House of Representatives. The only way this comes out right is if each of us, individually, is right in our hearts and souls. Only if we are “trustworthy in spirit” can we begin to resolve this in a fashion that is good not just for conservatives and Republicans, but for the nation.