Cathy Shifted...and Slid
McMorris Rodgers returns today to Congress to serve in the lame duck Republican majority in the House of Representatives. They have only sixteen days of "D.C. Work Week" scheduled before year's end. (Of course, they may do damage in that time, but the time is limited.) On January 3, 2019, as the 116th Congress (1/3/2019-1/3/2020) is seated, McMorris Rodgers and her ideology are condemned to minority status. Gone are the smiling photo-ops with her president. She will no longer appear over the right shoulder of Paul Ryan, looking determined and serious. Gone is the supposed power and influence Stacey Cowles referenced in his Spokesman endorsement. Will Trump consult with McMorris Rodgers over legislative priorities? Why would he bother? All that is left is to pretend to the imagined "bipartisanship" so often on her lips during the campaign. She is left to contemplate the "Republican agenda," the "momentum" over which she crowed to a Breitbart reporter in the heady early days of the 115th Congress (In Her Own Words), a time when she extolled the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the repeal of the Individual Mandate of the Affordable Care Act, and (oh, joy!) the opening up of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil exploration and drilling.
What is left of McMorris Rodgers' excitement? During the campaign she abandoned her "money in your pocket" mantra lauding the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. It was as if she had hadn't ever been excited about the bill that broke the budget with a huge tax giveaway to corporations and the already obscenely wealthy.
Her tune, indeed, the tune of the whole Republican/Libertarian Party changed on healthcare. For years she had pushed for outright repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), pre-existing conditions and all. She had spoken with excitement about overturning the Individual Mandate of the ACA. Instead, by the end of the campaign, McMorris Rodgers, smiling soccer mom of a child with Down Syndrome, "took offense" at the idea she would ever consider jettisoning Pre-Existing conditions. Offense or no, it didn't keep her from countless efforts to repeal, derail or dismantle the ACA. At the end of the campaign it finally penetrated her news bubble that her actual voting record was at odds with the soft, generic, centrist Christian mom image she wished to present. So she took a page from the Republican playbook: Never apologize, never argue the facts, never admit to reality, never defend. No, instead, go on the offense or, at the very least, pose as self-righteously "offended."
The Republican/Libertarian ideology has not changed. They still believe blowing up the deficit will produce "trickle-down" economic benefit. They still believe corporations and the rich suffer under under an unjust tax burden. They still believe the Prosperity Gospel: the greater one's wealth the greater one's moral worth.They still believe in the holiness of an unfettered, "free market" that will fix everything, even fix the market distortions in health care, health insurance, and pharmaceuticals where no such free market exists.
The Republican/Libertarian ideology has not changed, but for McMorris Rodgers to keep her seat, she has been forced by this election to pay attention, to modify the tune she sings, to not just pander to the extremists in her base. She was forced to peek, however briefly, out of her Fox News bubble, to acknowledge the existence (even if not to acknowledge the veracity) of other views held by many in her district.
It is with considerable relish I read "House Republican Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) will not seek another term in leadership following the loss of the GOP majority in the House." in The Hill from November 8. From the same article: ”Members have been frustrated for a long time with the tired messaging coming out of conference and the election made it even clearer that a new direction is needed,” one senior GOP aide told The Hill." So much for McMorris Rodgers' vaunted strengths (See The Atlantic, September 19, 2014) in messaging and communication technology she advertised when she beat Tom Price (more on him in a later post) for the position of House Republican Conference Chair in late 2012...
For this McMorris Rodgers' reality check we can thank the efforts of Lisa Brown, great Democratic candidates all over eastern Washington, the rebirth of the local Democratic Party, ourselves, our time and our money. Many were the electoral disappointments for us in eastern Washington this election cycle, but take solace that the tide is starting to shift.
Keep to the high ground,