The 2020 election is just over a year away, but there is already a long list of candidates running on the Democratic ballot. In June next year, the DNC will hold their primary debates in Milwaukee with over 20 candidates participating. Those who lean anti-establishment have had their eyes on Andrew Yang and Tulsi Gabbard, but it’s easy to forget that they are both polling below 2%. At the top are still Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, and at the very top with 27%, Joe Biden.
Jack Shields | @Jack_Shields20
Beginning this Congressional term, Senator Cruz (R-TX) proposed a constitutional amendment creating term limits. He did this at the beginning of the last congressional term. Although 82% of Americans support the idea of congressional term limits, it is a mostly symbolic proposal. Reaffirming Cruz’s principles to his supporters, the amendment has no chance of even making it to the floor for debate. People don’t enjoy banning themselves from their own job it turns out. Despite there being no practical path to term limits at the moment, it is worth examining and debating. We should explore the libertarian idea that people should have their freedom to elect authority kept intact. After all, 18% of Americans are not in favor of term limits.
Jack Parkos | United States
Republican Senator Ted Cruz from Texas has proposed a unique plan to fund the border wall. He calls it Ensuring Lawful Collection of Hidden Assets to Provide Order, or the EL CHAPO Act.
Juan Ayala | United States
“[The Freedom Caucus] can’t tell you what they’re for. They can’t tell you what they’re against. They’re anarchists, they want total chaos.” – Former Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH)
“…to solve immigration reform, House Republicans have to break precedent and bring a bill to the floor that offends the Freedom Caucus.” – Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)
“..the Freedom Caucus has ruined the Republican Party” – Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO)
So, just who is this growing group of conservatives and why should you care?
The Freedom Caucus: A Background
In 2009-2012, President Obama carried out his agenda through the stimulus package and poured money into the economy through government subsidies. Out of this “pork barrel spending,” the Tea Party was born. The caucus consists of candidates that were angry with what they thought were big government bailouts. Thusly, they became part of this grassroots movement to accomplish what they believed establishment Republicans were not.
According to the group’s Twitter, they support an open and accountable government, constitutionalism, and rule of law. Senators in the caucus include Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio. Some notable Representatives in the caucus include Thomas Massie and Justin Amash.
Relationship to Trump
The Republican Party is split over those who are openly criticizing Trump and those who let his rhetoric go by the wayside. The leaders of the Caucus are “brave, tough cookies” for Trump, as he puts it. Others like South Carolina Representative Mark Sanford have a lesser relationship with Trump. Sanford boasted an 80% positive rating with Trump’s voters and many see him as a constitutional conservative. However, his criticism of Trump led to the President releasing negative tweets about him the night of his primary. Many GOP strategists believe that these untimely tweets cost Sanford the race.
How the Caucus Operates
Congress is messy. The procedures and work schedule are an extremely difficult aspect of Congress and the Freedom Caucus doesn’t make it any easier.
Imagine you need 100 people to agree on an issue in your local community about implementing Common Core; you have 40 people in favor and 40 against. The final 20 want it abolished, to get rid of sex education and also want one of their members on the local school board. You have to give them 2/3 of what they’re asking for their support and need 51 people to agree to pass any measure, so a compromise must occur. Clearly, it’s damn near impossible to get there.
The previously mentioned 20 in the example would be the House Freedom Caucus, a group of four-dozen or so hardline conservatives (out of 199 Republican-held seats). Their presence can hinder a bill’s progress. Most notably, they killed the American Health Care Act (AHCA), which was supposed to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Trump infamously blamed them for the death of the AHCA. They have also opposed most immigration reform bills.
Remember, these are voting members of Congress and their opinions can very much impact anyone’s life.
The Growth of the Caucus
There is no official membership list. The founders, Mark Meadows (R-NC) and Jim Jordan (R-OH), court candidates. Contributing to an individual’s campaign is a key part of the Caucus. Following the 2018 midterms, the Caucus adds to its ranks Ben Cline (R-VA) and Chip Roy (R-TX). They expect another five to six members to join their ranks.
New Progressives, Hardline Conservatives & The Future
On camera, Congress is always ready for a 30-second sound bite. It’s the content that gets clicks, retweets and presumably also why Ocasio-Cortez was seated on a committee that also has Freedom Caucus founder Jim Jordan on it. The far-right and far-left are emerging in the House. Consequently, there will be an already uphill battle to achieve a consensus on commonsense approaches.
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By 71 Republic
On Monday night in Houston, President Trump labeled himself a “nationalist” to cheering support from a sold-out crowd ahead of midterm elections in Texas. Republican Senate incumbent Ted Cruz has been in a heated race with Congressman Beto O’Rourke. Trump landed in the Lonestar state in hopes of convincing voters to keep Congress Republican. With just two weeks until election day, polls between the two candidates currently suggest that neither side has a lockdown on the Senate seat.
You know, they have a word. It sort of became old fashioned. It’s called a nationalist. We’re not supposed to use that word. You know what I am? I am a nationalist! – Donald Trump
With 538 suggesting that Beto “has a chance in Texas,” Trump’s rally looked to bolster Ted Cruz’s numbers in the fight for the seat. As usual, Trump mocked what he sees as globalist ideas coming from his opponents. Touting himself a ‘nationalist’, the president seeks to distance himself from these political rivals. Trump’s ideology strikes a similar tone to the one he made on the campaign trail when he called himself a populist. If nothing else, it’s “America First” at a new level, direct from the Commander in Chief.
It’s not surprising to see the President use a word that the media and many on the left have labeled unspeakable. Trump enjoys teasing those that attack him and his use of the word ‘nationalist’ is an obvious bullying tactic aimed at the corporate media complex and his detractors in the Democrat party. It also signals to his staunchly conservative base who enjoy his calls for national superiority and American proto-homogenization.
Whether this will affect Cruz positively or negatively remains to be seen. As with most things the President does, it will likely only reflect on himself. Dogged by claims of racism throughout his first term in office, this moment will only further crystalize the vision that most on the left hold of Trump – as a white nationalist interested only in restoring and reestablishing the privilege of the white male patriarchy.
This is not the first time that Trump has given nationalist ideas. For years, Steve Bannon has been influencing his policies. Without a doubt, Bannon has identified himself as nationalist many times. However, Trump’s direct use of the term is still significant. As “nationalist” generally carries a negative reputation in 2018, this may influence the president’s overall approval. It also has the potential to either help or hurt Cruz’s chances at swaying currently undecided voters.
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