Political RINOs? How About Political COBRAs?
Dear Passionate Republicans Who Believe the Party is the Steward Of Conservative Values,
Please stop naming “R’s” who are not conservative—RINOs (Republican In Name Only)! Please call them COBRA’s. (Considered) Conservative Only By Republican Association. “COBRA” does justice to those of us conservatives who realize the Republican Party has not voted conservative on key topics for some time.
Republicans have not been fiscally or socially conservative as a collective with any consistency. Most are conservative in talk pre-election but fail to promote bills that uphold campaign pledges/platform stances. We are now seeing common behavior of ‘National’ Republican set in with ‘State’ Republican.
A veto in Nebraska to override the Governor to obtain a tax increase. A veto in Nebraska to override the Governor to repeal capital punishment. A failure in Congress to honor pro-life promises to sponsor key abortion legislation. A failure in Congress to stop extending budget solvency dates. A failure in Congress to present legislation to secure the border. These values do not fit into the Nebraska Republican conservative that I grew up knowing.
‘Winning’ key conservative issues are needed to improve the well-being of Nebraska and the United States. It is imperative conservative voters change tactics to achieve desired outcomes. The first major tactic is to change allegiance of party membership. A new approach to politics is needed in the public square to accomplish conservative goals. At the end of the day, the Republicans may still be that hope. However, they will only be that hope if they change their conduct. In my opinion, a change of conduct will require an outside agent, a movement, or a large defection of membership to force legislative action they promise but continually fail to deliver.
To be fair, I’m a little out of touch with the Republican Party since I left 6 years ago. I’d be happy to sit down with Republican leadership in the state legislature and understand this new view on increased taxes and repealing the death penalty to better understand how they view their platform.
I’m Independent and Conservative. I’m always open to listening to all parties and sides of debate. It is OK if we disagree on the death penalty and higher taxes. A good civil conversation, an exchange of ideas, and a review of the Constitution is the best approach I have learned over time to engage ideas and possibly sway opinions. However, I believe it is best to be civil in disagreement when convictions are strong so as to preserve a solid working relationship on the next problem citizens need addressed.
I’ve failed to convince many State conservatives in 2014 that the Republican Party is not the hope of their value set of the future. I’ll keep presenting the truth in legislation to change minds. With each passing day more conservatives join the Independent (largest growing political group), Libertarian, or Constitutional Party chorus. What is holding you back? All 3 are better choices. Conservatives will start to see the truth of what the Republican Party has become as consequences of these decisions (or lack thereof) hit closer to home. The party continues to fail on key conservative items. Budget cuts, border control, and pro-(Innocent) life initiatives have all fallen by the wayside or were rejected in conference. Maybe more conservatives will realize sticking with a party already questionable on key issues “To Win” on “Conservative Values” is achieving quite the opposite effect. Playing not to lose seldom wins in sports, careers, or politics.
What is the Point of a Party Platform?
I believe several Republican representatives and most voters have not read the Constitution in any great detail. Now I wonder if numerous Republicans even read their own platform. The multitude of Republican politicians taking voting positions contrary to their party platform (See Death Penalty) is nothing more than astounding to the average platform educated Nebraska GOP member. Unfortunately, these actions are commonplace. I have witnessed these continual failures in conservative ideology as a former Republican and now Independent Conservative. What is the point of a party platform if members of the party will vote against the platform in significant size? This is the question GOP leadership and followers need to wrestle with and reconcile.
My leaving the party had a lot to do with the GOP being unable to execute on campaign rhetoric, a lack of following platform issues (‘No Bail Outs’, Non Adherence to the Contract With America, Now Death Penalty), and voting positions that run contrary to Constitutional guidance. Keep in mind national platforms are not in control of delegates as perceived (see blog from earlier in year with award winning journalists documenting this truth in real time at the national convention). There may be justified dissent away from the party platform as it does not represent the base. Watch GOP Overrule their delegates Numerous state and federal delegations have seen the will of the members overridden by key players of the ruling leadership.
I don’t have a problem if you differ from your party platform that you are professing to follow to gain the nomination of your party AS LONG AS IT IS CLEARLY DISCLOSED well in advance of the election. Unfortunately, this is not happening. We have votes straying from an established platform without disclosure.
What we see in politics today are people riding the benefits of a platform perception they personally don’t believe in (Especially GOP in this state) to be elected. This is how you obtain numerous COBRAs (or RINO’s as Republicans call it) in office. People hiding their true colors of whom they really are for acceptance/support and identification with a larger group possessing a perceived beneficial historical reputation is not a new phenomenon. It has just become commonplace in party politics today as humans have this huge need to fit in and be accepted by the masses as opposed to be who they are from the start. The party has become a means to end for many politicians who aspire to have positions of great power as opposed to advocate for principled positions they truly believe in that serve the general welfare.
As I warned you in 2013 thru 2014 the National Republican Party has changed. The NATIONAL party has control over their NATIONAL members. I ran as an “I” to be free from party bosses and represent the Nebraska people. It hurt brand name reputation because people love the “R”. However, it will be the only way to move a positive conservative agenda forward. It is the only way to not contribute to partisan divisiveness that is hurting our country.
National party views will trump individual pledges a ‘National’ candidate will make before the election. I have been proven right early in the abortion, border, and budget debates in 2015. The up and coming leaders are not holding up their pledges/positions/platform when it matters.
With regards to Nebraska, I thought ‘State’ platform drifting would follow suit to ‘National’ platform drifting over time. I never predicted it would happen this soon. This is not your grandfather’s GOP party anymore Nebraska.
Nebraska is experiencing the wake-up call in 2015 with 3 Republican Governor (who is conservative) positions overridden by a 70% Republican legislature. Included in those vetoes were legislative positions to increase taxes and repeal the death penalty (Historically Anti-Conservative/Anti-Republican Positions).
The Republican voters who trust in the “R” continually place an emphasis on winning over right. They continue to judge and vote for people by the letter they proclaim over their character and positions. The results are starting to catch up to Main Street. The results are not favorable. The results are a function of what many voters elected.
Republicans Complicit In No Pre-Election Debates Paved the Way for Non-Disclosure of True Positions: Higher Taxes and the Repeal of the Death Penalty.
The passive approval of no debate by many Republican politicians in 2014 was an overwhelming complicit position. Republicans are reaping what they sew by approving of candidates who will not answer solid public questions in fair forums, disclose positions when asked honest questions, and engage debate in challenging/proper formats. Conservatives, would you want to know a death penalty stance, raising taxes position, or approving of a budget that extended balancing by 2 years before you voted?
Most Republicans (with full respect to Ricketts who would debate) were OK with few to no debates. Why? Winning over ‘right’. What are the results? A lack of disclosure of important positions that run contrary to voter interest. A lack of debates creates a lack of examination of candidates.
When debate happens, on the record positions are established. Votes are better controlled by the people. Many politicians (maybe not Obama) feel bound by their oaths. Look no further then Senator Larson of O’Neill during the death penalty veto debate. Article Citing Senator Larson’s Campaign Position He made it clear he would not back Capital punishment in the future. However, he upheld the veto because he made a pledge to his voters to support Capital Punishment before the election. He at least had the sense to be bound by his words he made in the election run up, then enact his new found position. Unfortunately, many Republicans were OK (at least passively) with “their” candidates electing not to debate (especially debates with non screened questions). Debates matter in answering the questions of the public who deserve to know candidate positions on ALL the issues before they vote.
Will Republican Politicians and Voters Take Accountability?
Accountability. Many Republicans preach it but don’t practice it. How many Republican voters were accountable and did their research of where their legislative candidates stood on key issues like increased taxes and death penalty repeal? Instead of yelling at the politicians who do not vote the platform, are you holding yourself accountable for not knowing their positions before the election? Will you vote for these same incumbents who vote contrary to the platform because they are an “R” in the next election? Accountability. Few like the topic when the subject is looking at them in the mirror.
Civic engagement HAS TO BE part of life balance in America. The population is receiving what they voted for. People need to quit making fun of politicians. They need to realize it is the voters placing these people into power in the first place. The voters are the seed. The politicians are the outcome.
Lack of candidate research has put a completely new batch of COBRA’s into offices. They successfully hide behind the label to garner votes to achieve the position.
The Petition to Reinstate the Death Penalty
The petition process will be good for people with privileged access to the primary. They will realize how difficult the process is, how unjust it is in making non establishment party members play by a different set of rules, and how painfully long it takes while others only have to take a few minutes to sign a few sheets of paper to participate in a “Democratic” process. “Equality Under the Law” (our state motto) at its best!
However, the petition process is also very rewarding! Your views have to be expressed and examined to garner a signature. Multiply that by the number of required signatures (plus a cushion) and you have a confirmed candidacy/issue (except for a few large media outlets who are adding wallet size and editorial approval of your message to deem legitimacy)!
The process also facilitates the meeting of so many great people across the state. Signatures have to be spread out among the districts and counties. Petitioning helps one stay in touch with Main Street Nebraska from East to West (Or West to East as one says in Scottsbluff). Obtaining signatures from every county is one of the best educational experiences a Nebraskan can have! It will be amazing for the organizers of this process as well.
Let’s look at specific bills to justify my claims of traditional conservative is dying with Republicans. (My aim in this piece is not to declare right and wrong of each piece of legislation. My aim is to highlight the deviation from historical conservative positions to illustrate the shift of values in the Republican Party.)
Repealing Capital Punishment was Republican led and had more votes from members of the GOP than Democrats. Pro Capital Punishment is historically the conservative position. Veto Override Story
Republicans overrode the veto by the Governor to raise taxes. Raising taxes has not been the historical fiscal conservative position. Higher Tax Veto Override Story
Republican led legislation sought to expand wagering on horse racing last year. That is not a historical social conservative position. Expanded Horse Racing Story
Republican led legislation is trying to sanction poker and eliminate “Last Call” at bars in Nebraska. That is not a historical social conservative position. Expand Poker and Eliminate “Last Call” at Bars
“What about Federal Positions?”
Gambling continues to be the theme as a top Casino magnate being accused of ties to the Mob in China is bankrolling several Republican Presidential runs. He has 9 figure money to spend! I’m looking forward to more family friendly internet gaming proposals from the family friendly GOP. My prior year blog and cited national stories
The National Republicans could not agree on a bill to secure the border to send to the President. Border Security is the conservative position. Independents reminded you it was 28 years both parties have failed to secure the border. Many thought Republicans would change this… better keep waiting. Article: Failed Border Security Due To Internal GOP Battle
In 2013, The Republicans under the guidance of Paul Ryan passed a budget that would balance by 2023. This budget was lamented by many conservatives in 2013 for being too “Spending Friendly” with the Democrats. In 2015, the Republicans passed another budget that will balance in 2025. For those that can’t do basic math, they just extended balancing the budget an additional 2 years. My Blog From 2013 Citing This Bill on the Record
Extending the time to balance the budget is not fiscally conservative.
As a person that painfully fought for tougher fiscal decisions this past year, it pains me on yet another passed budget that prolongs decisions towards solvency. I do not understand the claim, “The Table is Set for a Future Discussion” by our Senator. What tangible progress can I point to in that statement? How about honoring a pledge? IT IS time to have a tough talk! That statement makes more sense to me.
My expectations of DC have become so low….. I don’t even expect passage of a tough budget. The citizens do not demand it. They either want the handouts today over the just preservation of the opportunities the next generation should have with their resources OR they think voting for the new members controlled by the same party bosses will magically change budget behavior? I don’t understand the rationale.
In my world, I would expect a legislative proposal to be presented by conservatives with detailed positions on what tough decisions will be made. Where is the legislation to show there are real “Budget Hawks” in Congress? I will know someone is serious in honoring their balanced budget pledge when I see a tough bill with significant changes proposed. Proposed legislation (if it is not orchestrated by the party to be killed in committee) will lead to debate and will start the process to solving a massive problem that is toxic to future generations.
Signing your name to proposed legislation will take guts. They should be reminded it will take less guts than our founders who “With a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, mutually pledged to each other their Lives, their Fortunes and their sacred Honor.” We need Founding Father guts again. “Kick the Can” needs to go back to being a childhood game.
Only 2 Republicans had the guts to say the budget was not strong enough and declared our kids deserved better….Ted Cruz and Rand Paul. This is the fiscal conservative party worthy of being followed???
Granted, compromise is an important and a viable position (This is why Simpson-Bowles needed passing). Compromise was the rationale by apologetic Republicans in the 2015 GOP passed budget resolution. However, this resolution is not compromise because the appropriation bills (the next step) drafted on the basis of the budget resolution will not be signed into law by the White House. A compromise likely would have to be much softer on fiscal restraint to pass the White House standard (the appropriation bills cannot strip Obamacare). Conversely, the budget resolution could have been a tougher statement of how diligent we need to be in cutting the budget. The fate of a tougher budget and the corresponding appropriation actions would have met the same fate many appropriation bills originating from this budget will experience…dead on arrival. Why not make a bolder statement since this weaker statement has little chance of being appropriated to action?
The logic of either of these two alternative positions makes more sense than the 2015 budget resolution. This is a bad middle of the road budget resolution that will dictate appropriations that will not have a chance of White House approval, nor offer any meaningful proposal on budget reform. This resolution is the worst of both worlds.
What is Reality Today?
What we are witnessing in Washington is more rhetoric identifying the problems, blaming the other side for the current conditions, and yet another session of kicking the can down the road on our most pressing problems. This is what America voted for despite their perpetual belief that something better will happen the next time around with two parties still committed to divisive partisanship and run at the top with individuals succumbed to ideology that does not reflect Constitutional belief and/or funded by many consumed with greed.
What we need to demand as citizens out of national politicians are written plans to deal with the problems identified. Let this Blog be the first to demand details to solutions. We need conservatives proposing and pushing legislation, not seeking to be one of 50+ candidates running for President. (I warned you in 2014 this power obsession would happen–Refer to history after Contract with America). My 2013 Blog Predicting the Fight For More Power
Conservatives can lead or respond to what the ‘left’ is doing. It is their choice. Based on daily telecasts of Fox News, they are in responding mode to the agenda being pushed by the left and not leading from the right.
We need proactive conservative legislation. More importantly, we need bills on MAJOR legislation that shows there is a strong vision to lead this country. We need more debate to solve problems. True conservatives should not pass the buck. It is time to evolve the discussion with on the record proposals. Less hype. More action. I don’t want to hear ‘Obama and the Democrats want the border open’. I want to hear a committee debate and read a detailed legislative proposal on how the border will be closed. Republicans have control of both houses now to initiate legislation.
Furthermore, Nebraska representatives should have the gumption to not extend the time to bring our budget into balance. I don’t know if we will even make it another 10 years without a serious economic depression caused by government mismanagement and conceding Constitutional control of the currency to Wall Street over Main Street. Don’t look to senior leadership to lead a new approach (Republican Congressional Leadership is more prone to consensus building) or another member to step up. I encourage you to be that person that changes the game with proposed legislation. Looking around for someone else to do the job is what lazy kids do with their siblings at chore time. The encouraging piece is I believe we have a delegation that knows they can be bolder and stronger. Unfortunately, we don’t have a courageous delegation. We have an electorate obsessed with candidates on knowledge (a very important thing) but fail to evaluate wisdom and courage. Let me be the first to tell our elected officials, “You can do it! I believe in you! Take a chance!”
However, I’m afraid we are seeing the repeated cycle of forgoing tough decisions and discussions to receive party approval for future power positions. Protecting the reputation of other establishment stars in the party for the sake of perceived preservation of party power is old hat. It is probably what I hate most about party politics.
A lack of budget cuts and no border control are not the only issues showing why the party is no longer conservative. It is happening in solid conservative positional issues like “Pro-Life” as well. This state is well on the record in being Pro-Life. A 100 day pledge during the election run up by Senator Sasse to sponsor or cosponsor the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act has not happened. I was forwarded the pledge by Pro-Life people who thought they could only support an “R” as a Pro-Life advocate with an on the record 100 day guarantee of sponsorship/co-sponsorship! (Cue ‘Tommy Boy’ Movie Clip on Guarantees)
Where are the loyalists holding representatives accountable to ‘guarantees’ they made? Accountability dies easy when personal emotional loyalty is on the line. Accountability demands different behavior. A politician will respond to his loyal base if they hold them accountable in numbers. Remember, babies are on the line and upholding promises mean something to the Nebraska people! This guarantee is about sponsorship and co-sponsorship. That can be controlled by a candidate 100%!
Furthermore, the Republicans as a whole could not pass the 20 week abortion bill after the election as promised. “Pro-Life” (please change to Pro Innocent Life) is historically the conservative position. The Republicans were only able to pass a watered down version of striping government funding of abortion. Washington Post Bill Citing Failed Abortion Bill
The Democrats of several years ago already accomplished the removal of government funding of abortion with a bill they introduced in the House when Obamacare was passed (failed ratification). There is little meaningful difference in what Pro-Life Democrats (Granted they are now on the endangered species list in only 4 years) and Pro-Life Republicans passed between then and now. Both bills substantially achieved the same major goal. They removed government funding of abortions. Is it “More Conservative” when you can only pass substantially the same bill (removing government funding from abortion) as the Democrats introduced and passed a few years earlier on abortion?
How Long Will People Buy This?
Most people bought into the belief (deception) reforming the party will happen… (yet another try in the last 20 years). That is clearly not happening. Nebraska Republicans need to own this. They have elected a significant number of non-conservative Republicans (state level), or conservative Republicans who will not stand up to the national party to make the tough decisions needed and desired by the American/Nebraska people.
If the Republicans want to be identified as true conservatives by actions over election rhetoric reputation, they are going to have to follow through on their pledges and their platform. They have been fortunate their voting base assumes “Republican Right” is the answer to “Anti-Left”. The strategy of bashing the left to win the Presidency is what I would do as well if I had no positive plans to point to.
I’m not looking forward to the next year of “Bad Option” vs. “Don’t Vote for the Bad Option” battle to be President of the United States while good candidates not in the mainstream receive no media coverage to the peril of the American people who take their cues from the “very dependable” mainstream media. Republicans are fortunate their base is pushed to action by “Against” or “Fear of the Left” messages as opposed to “For” and “Vision” messages. The later always appeals to more voters than the former come the general election.
Let me continue to warn the GOP leadership… more people are waking up by the day that both parties are not acting under Constitutional direction. Don’t Take It From Me…Take it From Glenn Beck More people are waking up that they need to stand “For” something and not “Against” something. More people are waking up it is time to be “For” the Constitution.
Let me help you GOP Presidential candidates. Drop the ‘Anti-Hillary Campaign’ your leaders demand you recite over and over to get the doggy biscuit from party bosses. Be positive, present your vision, and be bold. No one likes to follow perpetually negative people.
That is why both parties do not have the growth trajectory of the Independent movement. Negativity of how bad humanity is on the other side of the aisle (whichever side you profess) is uninspiring. A similar agenda of repeating how bad the other party is creates no difference in candidates. Present your positive plans and vision. Provide leadership to the following questions to attract conservative voters.
What are your logistical plans to close the border? What is your Republican healthcare plan proposal you will stand behind as a party (I’m still waiting since I publicly called it out in 2013)? What are your foreign policy and long term goals for the Middle East? Will you make an unwavering claim to have the budget balanced in 8 years to meet the Ryan budget goal of 2013..?
There are offensive winning conservative positions out there. They take answers with “Guts” and conviction. They are not found in public opinion straw polls. They definitely are not in the heads of National Party Bosses.
If the Republican Party wants to reform themselves and win….quit obsessing over power and obsess on progress in legislation. The later will breed the former. The time is now to offer solutions with crafted legislation. It is time to demand adherence to pledges and platforms one has made or subscribed to.
Closing With Encouragement
I’ll admit—this blog was not full of encouragement. Changing the tone of debate and creating honest positive civic discussion in politics is one of my goals.
Let me close with some positive words on what good things have happened or are happening to bring ‘positive’ tone into the blog entry. There are good achievements to report.
- Our state legislature took on the tough subjects. They didn’t duck problems like those in our Federal government. They didn’t kick the can down the road on pressing issues like a strained budget. They faced the music and made decisive decisions. It is refreshing to see they would not ‘set the table’ for a later discussion, wait until next session, etc. They stood up and held account. I may not agree with every decision, but I can respect any person that will step up and take on a tough topic that needs addressed.
- The state legislature kept a balanced budget! Well done! Washington could learn from our state legislature on how to balance a budget. (Let’s repeal the 17th amendment so our state can do their originally designed Constitutional role of overseeing the US Senate. The Senate can’t seem to perform their historical role of spending restraint. They answer to uninformed people over answering to a responsible and informed legislature who should preform the role of raising money from local citizens to meet Federal demands. That is a much stronger design for spending control).
- The respectfulness of debate. I admired the conduct of both sides of the death penalty debate. Legislators were respectful. The tone was civil in disagreement. This is where politics needs to return to. I like to think our Senate race helped contribute to changing the tone with friendly attitudes and respectful disagreement. People respectfully voicing their opinion and respecting others who believe otherwise is a healthier environment for good debate. It will take more discipline to achieve this with a media set on trying to build anger, ugly dissent, and drama between parties to capture attention. The death penalty position obviously succeeded for those on the left and the majority of elected state legislative Republicans. It will be interesting to see if the name calling/degradation stops the next time around for those so prone to degradation of other people when they don’t like the plan. I hope this professional conduct on this heated topic starts a new trend in respectful and civil debate on other issues.
- Pro-Life positions emphasizing adoption in the Federal Government. It is nice to see our representatives get behind key adoption provisions in federal government legislation. Instead of always fanning the “Against” fire (the GOP does this well), the conservative movement needs to be “For” something. Moving this adoption legislation forward will give more kids a brighter future. New aggressive action in this area is noted and applauded. I’ve called into question Senator Sasse not honoring his legislative proposal guarantee on abortion. At the same time, he has gotten behind other key pro-life ‘adoption’ legislation that will advance “Life”. Well done!
- The church is waking up. I’ve never heard a better spell of sermons from multiple churches/denominations across the country the past 6 months. The church as a whole has a ways to go to become a bolder force for Biblical truth. I’m hearing spiritual leaders reclaim issues that belong in the church because they are taking on subjects that most will shy away from (pastors, like politicians, will duck tough issues to avoid controversy). The confusion and incorrect citations of the Bible on the floor of our state house is quite symbolic and eye opening. It is more eye opening when Senator Chambers, who mocks those that follow Biblical teachings, properly corrects those making poor citations of the Bible (True Statement). It should be an alarm bell for Pastors to quit running from, but run to civil servants. The government is sitting in your pew every week (We the People). They need your input. I’m starting to hear and sense a backbone. I’m seeing a Church start to lead in the role of mercy (as opposed to delegate to the state). In addition, they are demanding a greater focus on the role of justice from government with truth spoken into lives of civic leaders from the pulpit. As citizens we need to demand government focus on issues of justice that are domain to this God ordained institution. If we could clarify which institutions should execute the roles of mercy and justice–daily life would improve tremendously. The battle is just beginning. Intimidation of the Church and historically professed values are under attack. It is only going to get tougher in time to be vocal. However, I’m seeing compassionate, caring, and bold leaders emerge. I’m seeing citizens inspired by the bold and compassionate speaking of truth in the pulpit. It is great to see followers strengthened again with words of truth and following leaders demonstrating lives of compassion. Pastors, spend some time in Romans 13 as a personal favor. Keep turning the ship around on an institution so critical to our country!
- The GOP leadership has regained debate in the Senate. They have overcome Democratic leadership stewarding censorship and an iron grip over legislation. Thank Goodness! The Senate is getting back to progress. They are dealing with bills and doing the work of the people. I think there is bigger and better work to address, but you do have to start somewhere. In addition, the GOP was smart to start with some no risk bipartisan legislation to create some momentum between two warring tribes. I think many Independents running for office around the country hammered home this need in 2014. It appears they are responding to the pressure and message.
Have a Good Week Nebraska!