Wednesday, October 22, 2014
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Sowell: Facts and factions

At a time when polls show public opinion turning against the Democrats, some Republicans seem to be turning against each other.


Posted on March 27, 2014 at 11:22 a.m.

At a time when polls show public opinion turning against the Democrats, some Republicans seem to be turning against each other. Even with the prospect of being able to win control of the Senate in this fall's elections, some Republicans are busy manufacturing ammunition for their own circular firing squad.

A Republican faction's demonization of their own Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell, is a classic example. If you listen to some of those who consider themselves the only true conservatives, you would never guess that Senator McConnell received a lifetime 90 percent ranking by the American Conservative Union — and in one recent year had a 100 percent ranking.

Ann Coulter — whose conservative credentials nobody has ever challenged — points out in her column that Mitch McConnell has not only led the fight for conservative principles repeatedly, but has been to the right of Ted Cruz on immigration issues.

Someone once said that, in a war, truth is the first casualty. That seems to be the case for some in this internal war among Republicans. As the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan said, "You are entitled to your own opinion, but not to your own facts."

Why should those of us who are not Republicans be concerned about any of this?

Fortunately or unfortunately, we have a two-party system in this country. And — very unfortunately — we are at a crucial point in the history of America, and perhaps approaching a point of no return.

The unfolding disaster of Obamacare is only the most visible symptom of a far deeper danger from a lawless administration in Washington that unilaterally changes laws passed by Congress. President Obama has nearly three more years to continue doing irreparable damage to the fundamental basis of American government and Americans' freedom.

Only Republican control of the Senate can rein in the lawless Obama administration, which can otherwise load up the federal courts with lawless judges, who will be dismantling the rule of law and destroying the rights of the people, for decades after Barack Obama himself is long gone from the White House.

Once that happens, even a future Republican majority, led by people with the kind of ideological purity that the Republican dissidents want, cannot undo the damage.

The Senate's power to confirm or not confirm presidential nominees to the federal courts is the only thing that can prevent Barack Obama from leaving that kind of toxic legacy in the federal courts, including the Supreme Court.

Only Republican control of both houses of Congress can repeal, or even seriously revise, Obamacare. And only Republican control of both houses of Congress plus the White House can begin to reverse the many lawless, reckless and dangerous policies of the Obama administration, at home and overseas.

This year's elections and the 2016 presidential election may be among the most important elections in the history of this country, and can determine what kind of country this will be for years — and even generations — to come.

Those Republicans who seem ready to jeopardize their own party's chances of winning these two crucial elections by following a rule-or-ruin fight against fellow Republicans may claim to be following their ideals. But headstrong self-righteousness is not idealism, and it is seldom a way to advance any cause.

Politics, like war, is a question of power. If you don't have power, you can make fiery speeches or even conduct attention-getting filibusters, but that does not fundamentally change anything. And it has accomplished nothing in this case.

No doubt there can be legitimate differences of opinion about tactics and strategy on particular issues. But, if you don't have power, these are just empty clashes over debating points.

Certainly there has been much for which the Republican leadership has deserved to be criticized over the years — and this column has made such criticisms for decades. But, when the question is whether Mitch McConnell is preferable to Harry Reid as Majority Leader in the Senate, that is not even a close call.

If the rule-or-ruin faction among Republicans ends up giving the Democrats another Senate majority under Harry Reid, not only the Republican Party but the entire nation, and generations yet unborn, will end up paying the price.

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. His website is www.tsowell.com.

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