Did you hear it today? Did you hear the sound of independence being declared – independence from the strictures of old-consensus politics?
Because that’s what I heard, when the news came through that Trump and Ryan had accepted they would not get the vote they wanted on the “Ryancare” bill, and decided not to bring it to the floor.
I was glad to see Howard Portnoy’s earlier post on this, and I certainly agree with him. Pulling the bill before a vote was the right thing to do.
I actually think, in fact, that they – well, Trump, at least – have done more than play it smart. They may not fully realize it yet. But I think a lot of the people do.
With a major rocket boost from the Freedom Caucus, they’ve broken the spell of old-consensus politics. They’ve broken it by not being afraid to act contrary to what old-consensus politics would dictate.
They’ve pulled the vote, in the teeth of the old-consensus promise: that the media and the Democrats will laugh at them and proclaim that they’ve lost. The promise of the old consensus is that they will be politically damaged after this. Trump won’t be able to get things done. Republicans will be a laughingstock, despised by voters and doomed in 2018.
And sure, the outlets controlled by the mainstream media will try to enforce these conditions, to the extent they’re able.
One of the key reasons they can tell themselves they’re enforcing the conditions is that they define the terms. Think about opinion surveys, for example. If people are asked to state whether they think Republicans in Congress are (a) a bunch of boneheads, or (b) shining knights on white horses, what are those people going to say?
But if the poll respondents were asked something they’re never asked – is it all Republicans you despise, or is it just the self-styled “moderates” who sell out their voters and write bills that Democrats would have written 30 years ago? – the opinion-measuring would go quite differently.
That question is never asked, because it isn’t convenient for the old-consensus narrative to have an answer to it.
It turns out there are Republicans who aren’t afraid to act outside the paradigm. The Freedom Caucus just did that, declaring independence from deadlines and expectations imposed by the media, and by the big-government dynamics the Democrats make their living by. When you live by big-government dynamics, you serve the demands of entitled interests that tell you when you have to do something, and give you a very narrow range of options for what you’ll be allowed to do.
The Freedom Caucus just forced the Republicans to not take action on the deadlines set by the old-consensus paradigm. Trump is actually going to love that, when he gets used to it. (And I doubt that will take long.)
Independence will be amazing, although there will be people who can’t see that yet. But start with the fact that there’s a leadership cohort in Congress from which we can expect new and different responses. (The Freedom Caucus, in case it wasn’t obvious.) There’s a dynamic group that won’t just be doing the same predictable, hope-killing, soul-deadening things over and over again.
We’ll see where Trump himself goes with this. I’m not without hope. He probably already knows he has survived what the New York Times is calling a “spectacular defeat,” and will be there to fight another day.
There will be much to say as that day lines up, somewhere in the ones ahead. No one gets everything right, so we can expect hiccups and belches along the way. But today’s “failure” was so much more than an opportunity to hang Obamacare around the Democrats’ necks. That prospect isn’t really very interesting. Who wants cheap vengeance? It’s what we can do with freedom from the old consensus that matters.
Headlines like these won’t stop.
But reality will win the future. Let freedom ring.