I’m not a fan of media organs of the leftist establishment like The New York Times or The Atlantic magazine. But I believe in thinking through views I am inclined to oppose until I’m reasonably confident that I can make the case in their favor as well or better than their most accomplished advocates. This means I spend a fair amount of time keeping my opinionated viscera in check, to prevent passion from befogging the path of thought as I focus on that endeavor.
I say this by way of explaining why a throwaway line I read in an article published at the atlantic.com in 2014 came to mind as I was reading about the re-nomination of Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan (reportedly with Donald Trump’s support) for the top leadership positions in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, respectively. Describing the experience of a newly elected member of Congress the article asserts that:
Some time in December, you need to come to D.C. for “freshman orientation.” You’ll meet other members of Congress, learn a little about how Congress works, and discover your fate in the office lottery. After that, you’ll go through the formality of party-leadership elections—not much to see here as a newbie. If you know what’s good for you, you’ll just vote for whoever is going to win anyway.
An almost hysterical euphoria often characterizes the reaction of whichever side prevails in the Presidential popularity contest falsely touted as the election for President of the United States. This is especially true when the perceived victory comes as the reward of stubborn faith, sustained in the teeth of contrary predictions from pollsters and punsters who didn’t see it coming. The victorious side bathes itself in bubbly commentary, overflowing with celebratory predictions of the great change that is in the works.
This time around, that champagne equivalent included thoughts of toppling GOP leaders who either opposed Donald Trump to the bitter end, or else came late to the party that gather in anticipation of his victory. Paul Ryan was prominently mentioned as one likely to be carried away in the flow as Trump change drains the DC swamp.
So how is it that the quisling leaders who have proven their disposition to play Lady GAGA (go-along-to-get-along) in complicity with Obama’s destructively anti-American agenda, have been routinely re-elected to remain at the helm of the GOP’s Congressional majorities, in votes taken while the promised storm of Trump change is still just a scent in the wind?
The Atlantic monthly article rightly gives the impression that the leadership votes that will be taken after freshly elected members of Congress get to town are regarded as a mere formality (like the vote of the so-called “Electoral College’ in December). The votes we’re presently reading about are part of the Washington set-up, calculated to prejudice the environment in which never-before elected members of Congress assume their new responsibilities. Whatever mandate for change from their constituents they imagine themselves to represent, they will be confronted with the need to deal with the power of entrenched leaders who represent the status quo those constituents ostensibly reject.
Those leaders will not come, hat in hand, asking for them to support them for re-election. They will come arrayed in power; power handed to them by the very Congress majorities in their home districts or States rebuked when they cast their votes. This is especially true of voters whose main concerns had to do with issues they believe to be fundamental, but which are regarded as marginal by the power-obsessed elitists in Washington.
Such are especially the issues of moral principle voters who claim to be of Christian conscience uphold as their foremost concerns. Report has it that these voters constituted Donald Trump’s margin of victory. Yet in the DC scheme of things, they are marginal, in the sense that means ‘of no account.’ The Atlantic article captures this succinctly when it describes the fate of newbies who resist the quisling leaders empowered by the status quo: “Of course, you can choose not to be a good member and leadership will find you a place on the House Administration or Ethics Committee.”
I get the impression that some of Donald Trump’s supporters are not in the least disturbed by this cynical reality. Contrary to the time-beguiling rhetoric with which GOP quislings are pretending to show respect for Trump change, these supporters do not expect Donald Trump to drain the Washington swamp. They expect him to become its Lord and Master. To those who don’t mind the slimy feeling and the smell, swamps offer the prospect of rich prey, readily available to anyone who has know-how to prepare them properly.
In this metaphor, a conscience informed by God’s endowment of right is the equivalent of a well-educated and sensitive sense of smell. New members of Congress have a choice. They can, in good faith, frequently repair to the company and common sense of their constituents, thereby remaining sensitive to the stench of DC’s corruption. Or, they can deeply and repeatedly breathe in the DC stench, reveling in the prospects of power it conjures up, until inurement quells nausea. Tragically, thanks to the mentality bred into voters by the elitist faction’s partisan sham, many now accept the notion that good faith means bringing home enough bacon to get re-elected, even if chasing it down requires endlessly wallowing in the muck.