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Outsiders vs. Insiders: Americans need to see if Jim Jordan could make difference for the GOP

We hear it all the time, the notion that “one individual can make a difference.”

Whenever people hear the pervasive truism they instinctively nod in the affirmative. It doesn’t take a genius to understand that history is filled with men and women who “made a difference” in their times. For example, from our many trips to Williamsburg, Virginia we’ve garnered that Patrick Henry was the “voice of the American revolution” and George Mason was the intellectual force behind many of the ideas incorporated into the Alligator in swampDeclaration of Independence and Bill of Rights.

Thomas Jefferson may have been the “pen” of the revolution but it was Henry’s thundering orations and confrontational philosophical challenges to the power of the British king that got people started down the road towards independence. Boston patriot Samuel Adams fulfilled a similar role up in the true hotbed of rebellion, Massachusetts.

In more contemporary times the “one man can make a difference” concept has taken on some negative connotations, however. Particularly in the age of President Donald Trump, plenty of people we entrusted to faithfully execute the laws of the United States have proven to be self-interested sleazebags who abused the public trust in order to further their own ideological aims.

And yet many of them still “resist” Trump under their warped conception of doing right.

The Editors of the Washington Examiner wrote last week, “When critics cried to the mountaintops that President Trump’s election posed an authoritarian threat to American democracy, we were calmer. Our system is planted thick with checks and balances, including institutions the primary roles of which include holding the president accountable. For that reason, we were confident that Trump, whatever his real or imagined flaws and intentions, wasn’t going to push us toward tyranny.

“Whether acting on these overblown fears of tyranny or in response to Trump’s vulgarity and sloppiness, or simply in response to a president whose beliefs they oppose, too many people in our crucial institutions have abandoned norms and constraints. They have decided that they are part of the #Resistance, amorphous and self-aggrandized critics whose purposes are sufficiently vague both not to exclude many cranks and extremists and to attract some decent people.”

Who would’ve ever guessed this would be the case? Anyone with life’s experience understands government bureaucracy basically has a mind of its own but few would’ve predicted it would get this bad. As a side effect of the Robert Mueller “Russian collusion” investigation Americans (at least those who are paying attention) discovered just how corrupt and disease-ridden the top echelons of federal intelligence and law enforcement have become.

It's no secret the Democrat party harbors a number of politicians who care a lot more about their own personal power and “sticking it” to the president than they do about their constituents’ needs and desires – but the federal workforce is supposed to be “nonpartisan” with staffers happily going about their duties with nary a political thought in their heads. It’s a nice fantasy, isn’t it? In Washington everyone naively thinks their co-workers vote “Candidate X” in each election.

Conservatives and Republicans have always been more “tolerant” of dissenting views within the civil service – one, because it’s common knowledge that federal employees are still government workers and they’ve chosen their vocations not solely because of the tremendous fulfillment or stimulating cerebral experiences working for Uncle Sam represents; instead, these jobs pay well, grant excellent benefits and enroll everyone in the federal retirement system. It’s a liberal’s paradise.

Plus, unless someone really screws up or is proven guilty of a crime they won’t ever lose their situation. Having resided in the Washington DC area for the past two-plus decades I’ve seen just how ubiquitous the federal government is in these parts – and how loyal the workforce is to their employer. I wouldn’t describe it as a “cult,” but once you’re “in” not many ever voluntarily leave.

Not personally knowing the career backgrounds of James Comey and his merry band of liberal deep state hacks it’s hard to determine whether they’ve all made a career out of working for the government. But I’m guessing most of the people in the upper strata of most agencies have never filled out a W2 for any other entity – other than maybe McDonald’s when they were teenagers (or if they’re a political appointee).

Of course there are those “contractors” who technically work in the private sector (lobbyists, etc.), who still swim uninhibited in the swamp. Their firms rely heavily (if not exclusively) on government appropriations and paychecks and are largely populated with persons who formerly toiled in congressional offices, as elected officials or in some other federal capacity.

No wonder nothing ever changes in the Washington bog – all of the reptiles and amphibians and insects are all related to each other. The “blood” they suck is from somewhere else; but if there’s a puddle of stagnant water in the vicinity you’d better get to drying it before the DC mosquitoes begin their breeding.

The American public has had just about enough of the swamp, too. A new poll from the Ear to the Ground Listening Project revealed Americans from across the ideological spectrum are seeing the situation in Washington as untenable – and they largely blame congressional GOP leaders (the establishment) for maintaining the quagmire.

Paul Bedard of the Washington Examiner reported, “In a rare sign of political unity, Democrats and Republicans of all partisan stripes want the Washington ‘swamp’ drained and they blame GOP leadership for keeping the muck pond plugged, according to a new national survey.

“The Ear to the Ground Listening Project poll found that 55 percent are concerned about the ‘DC Swamp,’ and even more, 60 percent, said that it is important ‘to eliminate the influence of the network of DC-centric professional bureaucrats, media, and insider elites.’…

“The poll of 1,000 likely voters, conducted by McLaughlin & Associates and provided exclusively to Secrets, also showed the influence of President Trump’s campaign language and that his supporters -- and most Republicans and conservatives -- believe that he remains the most likely leader to shake Washington up.”

Based on the echoing chants of “Drain the swamp!” at every one of Trump’s 2016 campaign appearances it’s not surprising people see the “swamp” as a serious threat to the American way of life. Trump himself definitely cultivated relationships with swamp creatures throughout his lifetime yet still managed to stay apart from it (no matter what James Comey says about Trump being a “mob boss.”)

As a non-politician Trump sees the federal government differently than people who’ve devoted their existence to working in DC – or in some administrative capacity. There’s no loyalty to the swamp with Trump, no compulsion to continue traditions and practices that never really made sense in the first place. Trump sees the archaic rules and customs of the senate, for example, and wonders aloud (via tweet) why the 60-vote filibuster threshold can’t just be eliminated.

Too simplistic? Doesn’t Trump understand the notion of protecting (political) minority rights?

It's clear from the Ear to the Ground survey that Americans recognize the swamp and who’s responsible for creating it – and sustaining it.

The Ear to the Ground Project’s executive summary states, “Americans across the ideological spectrum indicated that even as they feel boxed out by the Swamp situation, they feel threatened from another area: the social movements, public bullying, and political violence. 80% said they agree that American traditions of freedom and individual rights are being threatened by social movements, public bullying, and increasing political violence…

“Americans are concerned about The Swamp culture and associate GOP leadership with supporting that same environment. They do not see any entity as effectively battling this, and the concerns spans political identification and party label. When only 39% of Americans feel their elected officials share their level of concern for the threats to their freedom, it’s clear that Washington is on a different page from the American people.”

I’m surprised it’s even as high as 39% (who trust their representative to protect their freedom) – unless you’re talking about people represented by members of the Freedom Caucus. Having principles and acting on them is what Americans want from elected officials. While it may be necessary for congressman and senators from “purple” districts and states to be mindful of “centrist” concerns it's no excuse for them to abandon all pretext of believing in something because they’re afraid they might lose their next election.

The Washington “swamp” makes examples of individuals who stand out from the elitist crowd (like Senator Rand Paul) but the grassroots adores these types of politicians. Every citizen wants their lawmaker to “get things done” in Washington -- but if what’s getting done is only making the swamp more stagnant, what’s the use of just going along to get along?

There have been plenty of clues recently that the Republican congressional leadership’s ineffectiveness is acting as a dead weight on the party’s candidates. Just last week the special election in Arizona revealed the GOP continues to suffer from serious enthusiasm malaise.

Nate Silver of fivethirtyeight.com wrote that the Republican contestant won (as expected) but, “The bigger question is what to make of the disparity between the overwhelming swing toward Democrats so far in special election results — which would imply a Democratic wave on par with the historic Republican years of 1994 and 2010 — and the considerably more modest one suggested by the generic congressional ballot, which shows Democrats ahead by only 7 points and implies that the battle for House control is roughly a toss-up.

“One plausible answer is that the generic ballot will shift further toward Democrats once voters become more engaged with the campaign in their respective districts and pollsters switch over to likely voter models. Still, both the generic ballot and special election results (when taken in the aggregate) are fairly reliable indicators. Rather than choosing between them, it’s best to consider both. That means entertaining a wide range of scenarios that run between Republicans narrowly holding onto the House and an epic Democratic wave.”

I would still lean towards the Republicans narrowly holding the House scenario but only because the Democrats themselves are so hapless and pathetic -- and Trump is likely stronger than pollsters give him credit for. Last week’s announcement from Korea that the “war” will be declared officially over by the end of the year has Trump smelling like a rose and motivating people like Sen. Lindsey Graham to suggest the president deserves a Nobel Peace Prize.

We shouldn’t forget the 2006 Democrat wave came amidst the lowest point in the Iraq War. Taken together with the ineffective Republican leadership, voters decided to give Democrats a chance at governing during George W. Bush’s final two years. With Trump seemingly doing well in foreign policy, similar motivation doesn’t exist this time around.

But the public’s animosity and distrust towards GOP leaders isn’t likely to subside, however, especially given voters tend to associate the “swamp” with the Republican Party. With speaker Paul Ryan leaving Congress it should therefore provide Republicans with sufficient incentive to choose someone like Rep. Jim Jordan to replace him.

Jordan is about as far away from a “swamp creature” as you’ll get in the GOP.

Jim Jordan is just the type of new leader who could really make a difference this year – not only in the upcoming midterm elections but also by helping accomplish the draining of the swamp. Here’s thinking voters would respond positively to the opportunity Jordan represents in this regard. Any swamp creature should recognize it.

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