Steve Bannon and the Million Dollar Question

For those of you who have not yet seen the news, there is a bombshell of a story developing. It’s the distancing of the Mercers from Steve Bannon.

As I wrote a few weeks ago in my post Bannon’s Braggadocio, it’s one thing for someone like Steve Bannon to boast about how many Republicans he is going to take out in primaries. It’s entirely another thing to back that boasting with legitimate funding.

The consensus up until today has been that there is relatively little daylight between the Mercers, specifically Bob and Bekah, and Steve Bannon. Today we all found out otherwise.

Here’s my quick take on things. It’s not that the Mercers and Bannon have dissimilar objectives. Many of us among the liberty, free market movement share the belief that there are those in Washington, DC who say one thing on the campaign trail and do a 180 once elected. And they have to be replaced with those who will fulfill their campaign promises. As these campaign chameleons do their DC kabuki dance, the country goes deeper into debt, socialized medicine becomes an encroaching reality and the difference between the two major parties, which should be stark, blends into a murky gray.

Here’s where I think the difference is. Donors like Bob Mercer want to see creative destruction, a sort of market disruption, that has an objective in mind-an actual principled, free market driven party that is intent on giving as many people as possible the greatest amount of liberty.

On the flip side of this is Steve Bannon, aider and abetter of the alt-right and a modern day (would be) Robespierre who just wants to create chaos. Articles like this one from Buzzfeed are damning. Bannon’s personal history is damning. As I have written before, we can be principled conservatives and not be with Steve Bannon. We can foment for constructive change and not have to embrace the ugliness that he embodies.

A new day dawned today in conservative and Republican politics.

And it is a good thing.


#Winning in Texas

Something big happened in Texas today. The Speaker of the House, Joe Straus, announced he is stepping down after this term.

Why is this so important? Well, let’s start at the beginning.

In 2009, Joe Straus and the infamous Gang of 11 partnered with the 65 Texas state House Democrats to oust Republican Speaker, Tom Craddick.

Over the years, here are some of the lowlights from Straus’ tenure as Speaker.

*In 2013, he and his handpicked Appropriations Committee spent the $8B dollar budget surplus and then raided another $4B from the rainy day fund.

*He and his lieutenants pushed repeatedly for Medicaid expansion under Obamacare in Texas.

*He stripped language from a bill that would prevent legislators and public employees from working as hired gun lobbyists.

*He attempted to regulate the speech of churches and civic groups.

*He and his lieutenants repeatedly killed school choice bills.

*He and his lieutenant, Byron Cook (who also retired today), killed a bill in Cook’s committee that banned sanctuary cities in Texas.

*Using procedural motions, Straus killed a bill to prevent late term abortions.

I could go on and on (trust me), but I think you get the point.

What is so incredible about today is that an 8+ year process has come to fruition. It started with ID’ing and training great candidates to run against Joe Straus’ lieutenants (I am looking at you, Matt Krause and Jonathan Stickland and Jeff Leach and Matt Schaefer and on and on the list goes). Each one of these candidates has become an incredible state representative. They have gone to Austin and fulfilled their campaign promises.

Around them the tea party launched great events like the Shark Tank to raise money for these candidates. They organized in practical ways politically. Young consultants like Luke Macias took on a lot of these long shot campaigns and turned them into winners. A lot of them used CampaignSidekick, a voter contact platform Raz and Kris Shafer and I have developed. Michael Quinn Sullivan and Empower Texans kept the pressure on Straus and his allies the entire time, exposing them time and time again. In short, it was an awesome team effort and shows the nation what change looks like when those that love liberty band together to affect change.

There’s still work to do here in Texas. We still have John Cornyn as a Senator. There are still a few Straus lieutenants like Charlie Geren left in the state House, but the winds of change are blowing in a big way in Texas. The best is yet to come.




Hurt Road: The Music, the Memories and the Miles Between

We all have those moments in life when we remember the first time we heard a favorite song or band. From that moment on, when we hear the first chords of that song, the memories come flooding in with them.

For me it was 1999. My good friend, Nate Miller, was visiting my brother and me. He was in med school and we were wrapping up our junior years in college at the University of Kansas. As I cranked out pancakes in our small two bedroom apartment on Tennessee Street, Nate said, “You guys ever heard of Third Day? You need to hear them. Just a sec.”

As I flipped pancakes, I heard him unzipping his bag and popping open a CD case to slip it into the player. Seconds later came the opening chords to “I’ve Always Loved You” and Nate singing along loudly.

Well, I don’t know how to explain it
But I know that words will hardly do
Miracles with signs and wonders
Aren’t enough for me to prove to you

Don’t you know I’ve always loved you
Even before there was time
Though you turn away, I’ll tell you still
Don’t you know I’ve always loved you, and I always will

I ducked my head out of the kitchen, “Who is this again? They’re really good!”

“Third Day, man. They are awesome.”

I am pretty sure we listened to “I’ve Always Loved You” 20 or more times that morning. Third Day wasn’t just a good Christian band as Billboard so famously noted, they were a GOOD band with a blend of acoustic and Southern Rock and with their CD, Time, they were on the rise in the music scene.

For the next few years, every time they released a CD, I bought it and friends and I would figure out the chords from their songs on our guitars.

Years later, I got a call from my sister who was working at the White House while I was at the Republican National Committee. “Third Day is in town. Want to grab lunch with them?”

In spite of the “mind blown” moment, I stammered that I did and over lunch got to know the band I had listened to for years. They invited me to join them backstage whenever our paths crossed.

I have done just that and from sound checks to grabbing pre-concert meals to diving deep into political and theological discussions to home renovation projects, I’ve gotten to know each of the Third Day guys just a little better.

During one such time, my wife, then fiancée, called and I took the call just as the guys were about to take the stage. Mac mouthed, “Is that your fiancée?”

I nodded.

“Give me the phone.”

I laughed and handed it over to him. “Hey Becca, it’s Mac Powell.” They chatted for a minute or so, he handed the phone back, “Well done, my man.”

Over these times I have pieced their stories together-where they’ve come from, how Third Day began, but in all honesty, I have never really known the story behind the story.

When I saw Mark Lee, the guitarist, was releasing his autobiography, Hurt Road, I made a mental note to buy it. He beat me to the punch and messaged me: “Send me your address, I am mailing you a copy!”

When it came, mid-day a few weeks ago, I put work on hold and just dove in.

Hurt Road is a conversational book, weaving in Mark’s life with Third Day’s origin story and the success that followed. Sprinkling in spiritual and life lessons as well as a behind the scenes look at life on tour, Hurt Road is an everyman’s journey of high school band members who started a garage band who became multi-Grammy Award winners, sold 7 million albums and became the first Christian band to grace the cover of Billboard magazine.

And it all started with a conversation between two marching band members in the school hallway.

“Hey, man. Do you want to be in my band?” Mark asked Mac. “We’re working up a song for the talent show.”

“I don’t play guitar.”

“No, man. We want you to sing,” replied Mark.

“Sure, that would be great!”

I think what I like most about Hurt Road, however, is the transparency of it. It is human nature to put the famous on pedestals. We think they live lives free of the “common” problems everyone else has, that they don’t face the same trials we do, the same griefs, the same struggles, but as Mark so artfully writes, they do.

When the lights dim and the concert crowds dissipate, the Third Day guys are very much like you and me. They have families to raise, bills to pay, a desire to become better at what they do and paramount to all this, a deep desire to follow Christ. While I was and am a big fan of their music, it was the latter that drew me to them.

All this and more comes through in Hurt Road. If you want to know the Third Day guys and their lead guitarist, Mark Lee, just a little better, go grab a copy of the book today and do what I did-dive in.



Bannon’s Braggadocio

There’s been a lot (a lot) of chatter about Steve Bannon’s appearance on 60 Minutes as well as his threat to challenge every Republican member of Congress who doesn’t support Trump’s agenda.

We’ll get to the elephant in the room later (the cost), but for now, let’s break a few things down as we look for exactly what Bannon is saying.

Let’s start with the Trump agenda. We know what the campaign trail promises were and are: The Wall, the repeal of Obamacare, tax reform and good judges. That’s a broad brushstroke, but pretty much covers what Trump voters thought they were getting when they voted for him. That and “Not Hillary.” And Making America Great Again. For all the die hard Trump supporters, hang with me to the end. I do have some good news for you.

We know how this all unfolded in the first few weeks with a somewhat muddled attempt to repeal Obamacare that wasn’t really a repeal, but some weak sauce replacement bill that did nothing to lower premiums or implement any free market solutions. We now know Steve Bannon was on the Hill attempting to twist conservative Members’ arms to vote for it, begging the question of how much daylight is there between 1) conservatism, 2) the Trump agenda and 3) just getting something done to get something done. Chew on that one and Bannon’s role in it for a while as I shift gears.

Next comes The Wall. Unless Trump and his administration are going to get comfortable with shutting down the government (which, mind you, isn’t really a shutdown until Social Security checks don’t go out), there isn’t going to be a wall.

Then there’s tax reform. Lord knows where that is going given the recent news stories here and here. It already appears to have the whiff of the Obamacare “repeal”: Pass it and then find out what is really in it. So, in other words, we might not be looking at legitimate tax reform after all.

Then judges. Okay, I have to admit, Neil Gorsuch was a home run. Leonard Leo and Don McGahn did an excellent job on the short list for the President to choose from. With dozens more appointments left, however, in the lower federal courts, it remains to be seen how hard the President is going to push to get those filled with good, young, Constitutionalists. He will have to take the gloves off to make it happen. Will he?

So, let’s run through the announced Trump agenda one more time.

Obamacare Repeal: Not happening

The Wall: Not happening

Tax Reform: The right thing needs to happen or nothing at all.

Judges: One home run in the first inning, eight more innings to go.

Then we have a glimpse of the real Trump agenda every day-his Twitter account. We saw it with the DACA order. First it was, “YES!” by his supporters to “Wait, what did he just say?!” to wringing of hands, “Whaaaatttt did he just say?!!” to stony silence.

Add to it the deals struck with the Democrats on the debt ceiling, the budget and DACA and the wall and we have Trump supporters running around talking about “Americanism.” Think nationalism with an American twist. I think. I don’t know what that even means. It could be the political version of “climate change.”

After all this, can you without a reasonable doubt answer the question, “What is the Trump agenda?” I’ll answer for you. No, you can’t. But I think I can give you a glimpse of what I think Trump really cares about: de-regulation, beating the crap out of bad guys and tax cuts. Numbers one and three have the potential to free up the markets and with it the economy and people vote with their wallets. The second is just good policy.

But, back to Bannon, who is going to challenge GOP members based on the fact that they don’t support the Trump agenda. Well, the good news is for those getting challenged, wait 24 hours and they might find themselves on the correct side of the Trump agenda.

Let’s get down to the brass tacks of who will be funding all this. Given Bannon’s relationship with the Mercer family, he may have a decent amount of resources to call upon in this venture. He also may not. Yesterday’s story about the first ad being run by the Bannon vehicle, Great America Alliance, in the Alabama Senate race raised a few eyebrows. Yep, tough ad. No mention of how much money is being put behind it with Roy Moore holding a double digit lead. If your first swing is an ad with no mention of how much is being put behind it, this means two things in politics: you are looking for earned media and/or you are currently fundraising to back the ad.

Let’s not forget that Strange is the candidate endorsed by Trump for whom Trump recorded a robocall before the August primary. The Alabama primary is an easy target at this stage given the poll numbers, so put a marker down on this one to see how much money is put behind the ad while also keeping in mind that many incumbent GOP Senators have multi-million dollar war chests against what will likely be $2-3 million in the Great America Alliance.

Bannon and his allies may then pivot to, “We don’t need as much as they do because we will have the Trump grassroots with us!” Except for the Trump grassroots are currently scratching their heads wondering what the Trump agenda is. That sort of doubt creates a serious problem in the motivation column. Getting rid of incumbents is virtually impossible to begin with. Add to it lack of funds and a confused base and you get my point.

Now, to put a fine point on it, let’s revisit one more time the Bannon boast that he will primary all those who don’t support a Trump agenda. Would it not have been better for him to have said, “I will primary anyone who does not support a legitimate repeal of Obamacare or tax reform?” Or, I would have settled for, “We will challenge anyone who ran as a Republican but has not governed as one.”

Why “the Trump agenda” when no one knows exactly what it is?

Or does Steve Bannon just want to see the world burn?



“Conservative” = Another Dead Label

As I wrote yesterday, words are losing their meaning in our modern culture. This morning I was sent an email for a Republican Congressman running for re-election in Ohio with “Former Cruz Team Member Endorsed” in the tagline.

Great start.

The key part in the email is:

Jim Renacci is not afraid to take on the establishment or the career politicians who continue to pay lip service to conservatism while perpetuating the status quo.

Pretty catchy if you ask me. That sentence has all the key words a grassroots conservative could ask for.

Except for one thing. If you take a quick look at Jim Renacci’s voting record in Congress, he’s done anything but take on the Establishment. Check out his Heritage Action scorecard. Or his Club for Growth score. I’ll even toss in his Madison Project Index score (how he measures up to his district).

For those that didn’t click on the links above, he has a 64 on the HAFA scorecard, a lifetime 62 on the Club for Growth card and gets a -31 on the Madison Project’s Performance Index. He is in an R+6 district. I am sure he is a decent man and well respected. I don’t know that someone with those scores can lay claim to the title “conservative” or anyone else should label him as such unless you’re trying to mislead voters. I would say that someone with those scores is likely more interested in perpetuating the status quo than taking it on.

Which brings me to Cindy Burkett, current state representative here in Texas. Elected by the Tea Party movement, Cindy went to Austin a committed conservative and backed it up her first term with a sterling voting record.

Until she didn’t, scoring a 48% on the Empower Texans’ Fiscal Responsibility Index this past session. Recently, Cindy announced she is running against current State Senator Bob Hall, who scored a 97% on the current Empower Texans’ Fiscal Responsibility Index.

Guess what Cindy’s campaign tagline is? You guessed it. “Cindy Burkett: Conservative for Texas State Senate.” Now, let’s flip this equation for a brief second. Let’s say Cindy Burkett was running on her actual record. What would that tagline look like? “Cindy Burkett: Career Politician for Texas State Senate.” Or, try this one: “Cindy Burkett: The Establishment Candidate for Texas Senate.” It’s ludicrous, right? Of course she cannot run on her voting record.

It’s time for the individual liberty, limited government movement to discard “conservative.” It has long since served its purpose and we need something better to define ourselves with going forward.


Elizabeth Warren’s Liberation Theology

The definition of words and terms is everything in our modern culture. I mean it. I feel as if multiple times a day I have to stop conversations and ask the person I am chatting with to define what he or she meant by X or Y. Shared meaning and definition are absent in our world today and we are the worse for it. Gone are bright lines and in their place, muddled gray.

So when I saw the article from yesterday’s Boston Globe, Religion is a Constant Part of Elizabeth Warren’s Life, I was intrigued. Predictably, my first question was, “How does she define religion?” And, more specifically, “How does she define Christianity?”

Let’s take a few minutes to briefly define Christianity-real, orthodox, creedal Christianity.

For those unfamiliar with orthodox Christianity, there are the core essentials and peripherals.

Examples of the core essentials are:

  1. There is one, triune God.
  2. Jesus Christ died for our sins and rose on the third day
  3. There is a heaven and there is a hell
  4. There is sin and there is Truth

These are some of the essentials of orthodox Christianity, many of which are ensconced in the Nicene Creed. Without believing in these core essentials, you are not a Christian. You may be sincere in your faith (and by this I mean a Kierkegaardian leap of faith), but you are not a Christian. It’s that simple. Either you are or you aren’t by your acceptance of these core essentials. They are non-negotiables. And for those who will instinctively ask, “Who are you to judge?!” I will simply say, “I am not. I did not create the standards. I am merely pointing them out.”

Then there are the peripherals. Peripherals follow upon the core essentials-you have to have the core essentials established first.

Examples of peripherals are:

  1. Infant baptism versus adult baptism (my Baptist, Presbyterian and Anabaptist friends all just took a deep breath).
  2. Sabbatarian versus non-Sabbatarian
  3. The role of Christians in politics
  4. Etc, etc, etc.

Having established the above for the parameters of this post, let’s breakdown the article on Warren starting with the first quote.

But then Warren shifted her focus to Matthew 25:40 — and Jesus. “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me,” Warren said, quoting the Gospel. Then she shared her interpretation: “He’s saying to us, first, there’s God in every one of us, there’s Jesus in every one of us — however you see it in your religion, that inside there’s something holy in every single person.”

I liked the start. It’s true and it’s something I think the modern Church has lost sight of as government has drifted heavily into the business of welfare. Jesus said, “You always have the poor with you. . .” Poverty is a constant and it is up to the Church to care for the poor.

Then Warren veers away from Christian orthodoxy with, “There’s God in every one of us, there’s Jesus in every one of us. . .”

There’s not, actually, and that’s not what Jesus is saying.

That line is some modern combination of Eastern mysticism and pantheism and really bad theology. God created each one of us in His image, but He’s not in each one of us. The Bible is very clear about this subject, from the Old Testament to the New Testament. As the John wrote in I John 5:1, “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God and everyone who loves the Father also loves the one born of Him.” For there to be an transformational indwelling, there must be genuine belief (see core essentials).

“See,” Jesus says, “I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.”

Then there is the passage that should give anyone who reads it pause: Matthew 25: 31-46, the parable told by Jesus himself about the sheep and the goats.

When the Son of Man comes in his glory and all the angels with him, then will he sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him and he will separate them one from another, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”

As the passage continues, Christ gets to the goats.

And they (the goats) will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.

I could delve deeper into this, but the Bible is definitive on this subject. Warren has clearly drifted into trying to modify God into her own image because if God is in each one of us, then the distinction above between the sheep and the goats cannot be true.

As Tozer writes, the downfall of modern culture is that,

We insist upon trying to modify Him and bring Him nearer to our own image.

But let’s be clear on this subject: a god created in our own image is an idol.

As the article progresses, it becomes increasingly clear that Warren is engaged in a 21st Century version of Liberation Theology. This is reinforced by her relationship with Jim Wallis of Sojurners, a man for whom I have grudging respect and yet suspect his theology.

Wallis has (in)famously said, “Jesus didn’t speak at all about homosexuality. There are about 12 verses in the Bible that touch on that question. Most of them are very contextual. There are thousands of verses on poverty. I don’t hear a lot of that conversation.”

And, “I don’t think that abortion is the moral equivalent issue to slavery that Wilberforce dealt with. I think that poverty is the new slavery. Poverty and global inequality are the fundamental moral issues of our time. That’s my judgment.”

The problem for Wallis and Warren is that Scripture speaks to all of life and there is a continuity in the Old and New Testaments. The Triune God of the Old Testament is the same Triune God of the New Testament (“He who has seen me has seen the Father” and “I and the Father are one,” are just a few statements of this that Jesus made in the New Testament clarifying this. Even God says in Malachi, “I AM the Lord-I change not.”).

What does that mean? That Jesus did address the subject of homosexuality and sin and truth and our relationship to all of these subjects.

The other problem Wallis and Warren appear to face is absolute truth. As I wrote recently, this is the modern conundrum. When Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, the Life,” he wasn’t walking about speaking truth or believing truth, he was saying, “I am Truth.” That is an absolute statement and from this Truth springs all other truth. The power of that statement begins with the first two words, “I am,” echoing God when Moses asks God who he is to say sent him when the people of Israel ask. God answers, “I AM who I AM.”

Given her voting record on abortion and her stance on same sex marriage, there is a clear divide between Biblical truth and Warren’s (and Wallis’) attempt to create a modern, “more friendly” God. There is an attempt by both to sweep stances that are contrary to Scripture under the rug. You cannot take parts from the sum and expect the whole.

So what have we learned about Warren’s faith from this article?

That it is skin deep, not life deep, picked and chosen for her own comfort.

Defunding Evil

We live in a culture where the clear line that should exist between right and wrong has been blurred and culture has trouble calling anything “good” or “evil.”

But whether we want to acknowledge them, right and wrong, good and evil do exist. It’s not up to us to decide if they do or do not. They are the affects of a plumb line that existed long before man walked the earth and will exist long after we are gone.

Of course there are those that will say the above is nonsense. They are, as Tozer writes:

. . . the relativists who like to show that there are no fixed points in the universe from which we can measure anything. They smile down at us from they lofty intellectual peaks and settle us to their own satisfaction by fastening upon us the reproachful term “absolutist” . . . [However] They prove their soundness by living their lives according to the very notions of reality which they in theory repudiate and by counting upon the very fixed points they prove are not there. . . Their ideas are brain deep, not life-deep.

We face a lot of life deep questions in our culture today. How we handle human life should not be one of them. Specifically, abortion. Or, more directly, the killing of babies. I think one of the greatest inventions in the life debate has been the introduction of 3D sonograms. For years the pro-abortion crowd tried in vain to win the argument that babies were just fetuses. Then along came 3D sonograms that showed us that, no, these were people, albeit tiny ones.

The largest, single abortion provider in America today is Planned Parenthood. There are those that will make the argument that they are a valuable resource for women who cannot afford basic healthcare. I beg to differ. Two years ago, research was released by various conservative organizations showing the inconsistencies in this argument. There are 665 Planned Parenthood clinics nationwide compared to 13,540 local health clinics. Yet through these 665 clinics Planned Parenthood doubled the number of abortions it provided between 2000 and 2011, jumping from 15% of the total number of abortions in American to 32%, or 333,964 total.

At your expense.

From Planned Parenthood’s Wikipedia page:

In the fiscal year ending June 30, 2014, total revenue was US$1.3 billion: non-government health services revenue was US$305 million, government revenue (such as Medicaid reimbursements) was US$528 million, private contributions totaled US$392 million, and US$78 million came from other operating revenue.

The number that should jump out at you is the $528M. That is money generated from your tax dollars.

Now, Planned Parenthood will argue that no government funding is used for abortions. They are correct. However, the $528M they received from us allows them to not only keep the lights on at their clinics, it pays for a lot of overhead so that they in turn can pay for abortions and the doctors’ time who perform them from the private contributions side. It’s the age old rob Peter to pay Paul routine.

Which is why I cheered when I read the news that South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster signed an executive order to stop giving any state money to doctors or groups affiliated with giving abortions.

“There are a variety of agencies, clinics, and medical entities in South Carolina that receive taxpayer funding to offer important women’s health and family planning services without performing abortions,” McMaster said in a statement. “Taxpayer dollars must not directly or indirectly subsidize abortion providers like Planned Parenthood.”

Why is this taking place? Because back in April President Trump signed a bill that allowed states to deny funding to Planned Parenthood’s non-profit arm. I think those that have read my posts here and comments elsewhere know that I have been and am mostly skeptical of Trump, but let’s give that man credit when it is due. He has unleashed the states to act as they choose when it comes to funding or defunding Planned Parenthood. It’s federalism in action.

What remains to be seen is how many more states follow South Carolina’s lead.

Did GOP Leadership Consult Conservatives?

There is a lot of buzz on the Hill today and it starts with the question: Did the GOP Leadership, lead by Paul Ryan, even consult with conservatives before writing Ryancare?

I’m sure they did talk to everyone. But there’s a difference between “listening sessions” and active negotiations.

To my knowledge there was no SERIOUS discussion ever of: “Here’s our draft plan, tell us what you think and if you see needed major changes and we’ll see what we can do BEFORE we make it public”

To my understanding, all they had were different listening sessions, then went behind closed doors and only allowed leaders and chairmen (most of whom you cannot label “conservative”) the ability to negotiate details.

Also, I would point out that what the whole conservative movement really wanted on repeal is completely public and widely known for years. These are as follows:
  1. Full repeal
  2. Stop Medicaid expansion
  3. Take out the regs that drive up costs
  4. Interstate competition
  5. Supersize HSA’s
  6. Allow people to pay for premiums out of it so they can control their care
  7. Equalize tax treatment (deductions preferred but tax credits could be considered if tightly structured)
This bill literally does none of those things except attempts the tax equalization component and botches even that part of it.
Now, to address Kim Strassel’s column from this morning in the Wall Street Journal.
I don’t think she’s completely off base. Operating with a Republican House, Senate and White House is going to be different than in years passed.
I really believe we have one or two years of opportunity to get stuff done and we need to approach fights differently and drive the policy as close to conservative principles as possible. What we are seeing is that overall is the conservative movement is absolutely acting differently and doing that.
On Ryancare, the movement held its fire until the bill was out then said openly it is willing to work with leaders and White House to improve the bill. Obamacare repeal is a no brainer. It is literally what the GOP ran on (very successfully, I might add) for the last three election cycles. Mitch McConnell promised to “rip it out, root and branch.” President Trump said it would be one of the first things he did when he won.
The really interesting point about this moment is that it is Ryan/McConnell leadership that has changed ZERO from their previous failed strategies. They are still head patting conservatives with rhetoric but catering to moderates with policy. They are still secretly negotiating deals without conservative input then daring conservatives in a “binary choice” to oppose “the best chance to fix health care/taxes/regulations/education” and if you oppose their crap sandwich, you are the problem.
Why can’t Ryan just simply say: I’m hearing some good ideas from our conservative colleagues and we’re going to work with them to address their concerns. Thats what they do with moderates. But no, instead they insist the bill is the most conservative thing ever and anyone who disagrees is a liberal who doesn’t understand conservative policy.
Take a look at Ryan’s interview with Tucker Carlson. He literally says the reason we can’t do repeal the way conservatives want is because of reconciliation and conservatives just don’t understand how things work. Really?! We repealed MORE under reconciliation with Obama in the White House than we are with the GOP holding the majorities in the House, the Senate and our guy in the White House!
Sorry. We know for a fact more can be repealed because we did it already.
President Trump has said he wants to work with conservatives and fight for the people. Conservatives have openly said they are willing to take less than they want. GOP leaders say: you get nothing like always and we’ll just primary you like we did before.
My only contention with Kim Strassel’s column is this:  the conservative movement has grown up and understands the moment. GOP leadership has not and does not.