The still-undecided, very special election in Ohio’s twelfth congressional district should send this message to GOP leaders on Capitol Hill: Energize Republicans and enervate Democrats.
Ohio-12 has been in GOP hands since 1983. President Donald J. Trump won it by eleven points. Thus, Republican Troy Balderson should have sleepwalked to victory in this constituency, which Republican Pat Tiberi vacated on January 31 to head the Ohio Business Roundtable. Instead, Democrat Danny O’Connor marched to a near-tie. Trump’s Saturday rally may have electrified Republicans: Balderson holds a 1,754-vote edge, at this writing. However, 5,048 absentee and 3,435 provisional ballots remain uncounted. Final results may not emerge until August 24.
Even if Balderson prevails, this should have been easy.
Like overinflated inner tubes, if Democrats were any more pumped up, they would explode. Meanwhile, a July 22 NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found that a stunning 88 percent of Republican voters support Trump. But whether GOP turnout will keep Congress Republican is the most urgent question in American politics.
How, then, can House speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky deflate the Democrats’ tires and keep Republicans rolling, so that enough liberals stay home and enough conservatives show up to keep Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer in the minority? Beyond sending Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, these steps might help:
First, news reports that McConnell, yet again, will surrender to Schumer on spending had damn well better be mere gossip. Another profligate omnibus disaster will disgust and demoralize Republican voters. March’s 2,232-page, $1.3 trillion spend-o-rama (in exchange for nothing Republicans want, beyond defense) made fiscal conservatives almost physically ill. For days, I endured rage, nausea, and paralytic ennui. If McConnell and Ryan inflict such emotions on base Republicans just before the midterms, they might as well hand Pelosi the gavel. (The Senate will be harder for Democrats to secure, since they and two allied independents are defending 26 seats, while Republicans are fighting to hold just nine.)
Second, McConnell should schedule individual votes on each House-passed appropriations bill. This would fund the government, essentially, department by department. This avoids a tragically typical catch-all bill that gleans heaps of garbage, like a driftnet trawling a polluted harbor.
If Democrats want to padlock the House and Senate and keep America’s southern frontier wide open to anyone who cares to breach it, let them. The rest of the federal government would carry on.
Third, McConnell should put the most controversial item — funds for President Trump’s signature border wall — into the final bill to be considered: legislative-branch appropriations. If Democrats pass it, Hallelujah! If they reject it, then a government shutdown would affect only Congress. If Democrats want to padlock the House and Senate and keep America’s southern frontier wide open to anyone who cares to breach it, let them. The rest of the federal government would carry on. Republicans would remind voters that the no-borders Democrats have devolved into a welcome mat for perpetrators who break into America — from those without visas who seek greener pastures to MS-13 killers and terrorists who seek blood-red streets.
Meanwhile, the far-Left Democratic base dreams of building the United States of Venezuela. So, next, House Republicans should call the Resistance’s bluff and vote on the democratic-socialist agenda.
The risk of legitimizing this un-American platform, and perhaps attracting support for it, is outweighed by the opportunity for Republicans to expose it as a high-speed fiscal joyride, without seatbelts, and force Democrats to vote on it. Many (likely most) House Democrats will not go that far.
House Democrats include cautious traditionalists as well as radicals who sing the siren song of New York House candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Triggering this fault line would split Democrats. Their leftist shock troops will be frustrated and depressed when they see fellow Democrats oppose College for All (ten-year price tag: $807 billion), Jobs for All ($6.8 trillion), Medicare for All ($32 trillion), ICE for None, and Impeachment for Trump. (A January 19 motion to table Representative Al Green’s (D., Texas) impeachment bill passed 355 to 66; 121 Democrats joined all 234 voting Republicans to nip Trump’s removal in the bud.)
Such a legislative schism will expose many Democrats who oppose these measures as, in the eyes of the increasingly pro–Bernie Sanders base, DINOs — Democrats in Name Only. At the margin, this will leave Bernieites and Resistniks dejected and reluctant to walk precincts, man phone banks, and vote for Democrats who abandoned their neo-Marxist proposals.
In contrast, seeing unified Republicans defeat these far-left fantasies will rally GOP voters and remind them of what could happen if, God forbid, Democrats won the House.
And if, by chance, Democrats join arms and vote en masse for these socialist baubles, they will have outed themselves as spendthrift Chavistas. Republicans then can tie Democrats to what Manhattan Institute scholar Brian Riedl calculates as the tab for this democratic-socialist shopping list: $42.5 trillion — almost precisely double today’s $21.3 trillion national debt.