Should John Boehner and Mitch McConnell be Replaced?
“To be honest, it was almost a relief that Boehner and McConnell simply gave up battling Obama on the debt ceiling, because they have proven ineptly hopeless.”
New Faces Needed to Effectively Battle for Conservatism
Do not confuse this with this as a call to replace John Boehner (Speaker of the US House) and Mitch McConnell (Minority Leader in the US Senate) because of their battles with tea party and grassroots activists. It’s important to be realistic about the limitations of what either leader can do and understand that compromises are sometimes necessary, especially in divided government. Instead, we look at five reasons both leaders should potentially be replaced, regardless of how conservative they may or may not be.
Over-matched Against Obama
As leaders of the party, both Boehner and McConnell have proved time and again that they are no match for President Obama. They lose every battle. Obama has his way with both leaders, on justa about any issue. The end result in nearly every dispute is that Obama gets his way. The compromise is always one-sided, with Republicans never getting anything but blame. They’ve been so over-matched by Obama for so long, that by early 2014 they were pushing through one-sided deals against the wishes of the overwhelming majority of their own Republican colleagues. (Their fear? A repeat of the 2013 shutdown where Obama steam-rolled them in the public opinion arena.) To be honest, it was almost a relief that the two simply gave up battling Obama, because they have proven ineptly hopeless.
What wins have the GOP leaders racked up in the past 4 years? Where is their big moment, their version of Gingrich/Clinton-era welfare reform? Tying into the first issue, the GOP leaders have no results because they are over-matched. John Boehner has been leader for more than three years, and finding a big win – while Obama racks them up – is hard to do. The only time Obama does not get his way is when the public revolts on issues ranging from immigration to gun control.
Can’t Win Even When Public Agrees with Them
What’s unsettling about how poorly the party leaders perform is they can’t make ground even when the public agrees with them. It’s one thing to have to abandon a cause when the public just isn’t sold on it (privatizing Social Security in the Bush era comes to mind). But poll after poll shows that the public agrees with conservatives on many issues, and they still lose. The public agreed with the GOP positions during the shutdown that the government should cut spending. On immigration, voters agree on securing the borders. Coincidentally this is the one thing they don’t focus on. They also agreed the Obamacare mandate should be delayed. And speaking of Obamacare, it is one of the least popular bills in the history of all legislation. What have they accomplished on this? The party gave up on Obamacare because the Democrats called them “hostage-takers” for wanting to delay portions of the bill. They couldn’t pull out a victory when the public fundamentally agreed with the conservative positions on the shutdown. Obama would later delay these provisions unilaterally because of the blow-back in public opinion, and take the credit for being so darn accommodating. (Keep in mind that Obama has delayed most everything the GOP sought during the government shutdown, how embarrassing is that?)
Unpopular with the Public
What’s exciting about Mitch McConnell? What’s compelling about John Boehner? These are the faces of the party. These are the decision-makers. Congressional job approval has regularly dipped into the single-digits for much of the time Boehner has been Speaker of the House. (It wasn’t even this low when Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats rammed through Obamacare.) Congressional Republicans are at all-time lows across the board, and they sit 40-50 points underwater with voters in public opinion. (By comparison, Democrats are roughly 25-35 points underwater while the Tea Party falls in the 20-25 point under range.) Recent polling of Boehner has him in the low 20% range in approval ratings and as much as 65% of the public disapproving of his job performance. It is difficult to defeat President Obama in public opinion and to push an agenda when people simply do not like you. Who has been excited by a speech or comment by either man? Who can be convinced?
Unpopular within the Party
Worse than being unpopular with the nation in general, both leaders are unpopular with members of their own party. If you do not have the confidence of your own membership, how can you expect to gain the trust and confidence of voters overall? Neither leader has effectively managed the coalition of tea party conservatives and establishment members. When they feel compelled to push for a conservative agenda (usually because of grassroots conservatives) they are doomed to fail because everyone knows – Obama included – they are not committed to the cause and that they will almost always give in. And this is, perhaps, the root of all of the other problems.