In the past week, Ben Sasse stated to multiple outlets that he thinks about leaving the Republican Party “every morning when I wake up.” He also remarked, “We should be focused on the long term, and I’d love to see the party of Lincoln and Reagan get back to its roots.”
During the confirmation hearing for Brett Kavanaugh, Sasse also lambasted the political system as a whole. The Nebraska Senator, in particular, highlighted the shortcomings of Congress, blaming the legislative body for the politicization of the Supreme Court.
Sasse stated, “The legislature is weak. The legislature is impotent. And most people here want their jobs more than they want to do legislative work… people yearn for a place where politics can actually be done. And when we don’t do a lot of big actual political debating, we transfer it to the Supreme Court… It seems to me that Judge Kavanaugh is ready to do his job, the question for us is whether we’re ready to do our job.”
Obviously, the GOP’s 51-49 majority makes the margin between making America great again and abject failure razor thin. In order to pass legislation, every Republican has to toe the party line. In many cases, the GOP has succeeded in that respect, as shown by things like the tax cuts, judicial appointments, regulatory rollbacks, and the “skinny repeal” of Obamacare.
These are not small victories, and it has been refreshing to see the right push forward a mostly conservative agenda. Cocaine Mitch is a rock star, and there are enough liberal tears to fill the Mississippi.
However, while many on the right lay content basking in this cornucopia of wins, they would do well to keep an eye on the horizon. The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday that the projected federal budget for the 2018 fiscal year will hit $793 billion, a 19% increase over last year’s number. Planned Parenthood remains federally funded. The US trade policy is straight out of Bernie Sanders’ playbook.
With an election map that looks grim for the November elections, the GOP’s iron grip on Congress will likely loosen considerably. In a couple months, Republicans won’t have carte blanche over policy, and they are going to have to answer some tough questions. Questions like, “Why did the party of small government decide to start spending money like a crackhead lotto winner?”
Yes, the Republican Party has scored a slew of victories recently, but it appears that the party remains indifferent to long-term concerns. They still have to prove that they are willing to use the power of the legislative branch to stand up to the president on his more left-leaning policy choices e.g. tariffs and federal spending.
This brings us back to Ben Sasse. In July, Politico reported on the shaky personal relationship between the Nebraska Senator and the president. Combing through Sasse’s Wikipedia page will give you a good idea of why the two mix like matches and gasoline.
Sasse is a squeaky-clean family man who got his undergrad at Harvard, a master’s from St. Johns College, and then just for kicks: two more master’s and a PhD from Yale. He’s airtight on every issue from abortion to healthcare.
Donald Trump is no intellectual, and I think even Charlie Kirk would admit that the president’s moral compass doesn’t always point due north. The odds that he and the Nebraska Senator will ever see eye to eye are low, but Sasse didn’t run for office to flirt with the president; he ran to push conservative policy.
Ironically, Sasse has voted in line with Trump’s position more than 86% of the time according to FiveThirtyEight. He isn’t a donate-to-Doug-Jones Jeff Flake-type contrarian. He is a guy choosing to look beyond the daily news cycle and planning for the future. The GOP leadership would do well to pay more attention to Sasse and the concerns he is voicing before it’s too late.