Monday, June 23, 2014

McCarthy Wins -- Labrador Gracious in Defeat

In a secret ballot of Republican members of the House of Representatives, California Congressman Kevin McCarthy won the majority leader spot replacing pro-Amnesty Eric Cantor, who in a surprising upset lost his primary fight to a vastly underfunded economics professor who touted the former Majority Leader's push for blanket immigration reform, contrary to the best wishes or interests of his constituents.

GOP Majority Leader
Kevin McCarthy

The ascension of McCarthy is a mixed blessing for the Conservative Movement, particularly in California.

On the down side, McCarthy has been floating an irresponsible compromise on immigration reform, which would allow illegals currently in the country to attain legal status, but not the right to vote. Citizenship is meaningless without the right to vote, and granting a partial amnesty encourages more illegal immigration. The immigration crisis of undocumented alien children along the Southern border of the United States is a direct result of all this amnesty talk.

On the up side, McCarthy is 100% pro-life and pro-Second Amendment, an expert networker and fundraiser who has worked with all echelons of political funding, in California and Washington. A vocal, active critic of California Governor Jerry Brown's crazy bullet train boondoggle, McCarthy is not the big spending RINO which virulent conservative agitators have painted him out to be. Even if critics call him "Establishment", I have commented in the past that being a part of the "Network" in itself is not a bad thing. Politicians who want to accomplish anything noteworthy or worthwhile have to learn the wheel-and-deal vote-trading game that gets things done in Washington.

California needs a strong voice speaking on the state's behalf in Washington, and the California Republican Party needs the leadership in Washington to prove that conservative politics are still relevant as well as active in the Golden State, tarnished with unrepentant progressivism for the past twenty years.

Still, McCarthy's detractors fear that his rise in Congress will further water down his conservative credentials, and that he will exploit his power to the advantage of connected elites vs. the conservative grassroots.

Then again, compromise is not a bad thing in itself.

The first Republican President, Abraham Lincoln, had to work with Democrats to get the 13th Amendment past. In fact, when he ran for reelection in 1864, he did not run expressly as a Republican, but under a Union Party ticket, with a Democratic Vice-Presidential candidate (Andrew Johnson). Without Democratic Unionists supporting him, Lincoln would have lost reelection, and the United States would not have remained united, with the fate of millions of slaves precarious if not uncertain.

Compromise does not meaning giving up your principles or waffle on one's positions or denying your purpose. McCarthy might better bridge this gap in Washington as Majority Leader than as Majority Whip. McCarthy has six months to present his credentials and skills to the House. Can he work with both sides of the aisle, as well as within the Republican ranks bringing together Insiders and Outsiders, Tea Party enthusiasts and Establishment affiliates? If nothing else, he is a conservative in a red district in Central California, which will grant disaffected voters a chance to challenge him, just like his prior Eric Cantor, too.

File:Raul Labrador by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Raul Labrador: A Winner even in defeat

And what about Raul Labrador of Idaho? Did his run accomplish anything, even if he lost?

He demonstrated not just grace under fire but grace in the face of defeat. From the Washington Post reported by the Idaho Statesman:

"...Rep. Raúl Labrador (Idaho), wanted to be the conservative alternative to McCarthy. But Labrador started late and never got close. After it was evident that McCarthy had won, Labrador stood up and called for the vote to be declared unanimous as a signal of party unity.

"The caucus roared its approval. The one thing Labrador had done well was handle defeat."

Labrador did not back down on his run against McCarthy, even when the national press announced the (nearly) obvious reality of his limited chance of winning. Citing the frustration from conservative members in the House, the Puerto Rican lawmaker offered that many representatives feel irrelevant. Even when he lost, Labrador accomplished his goal and helped unite the House Republican caucus. His gracious decision to step aside and grant McCarthy a unanimous vote is the first step toward unifying the diverse elements toward better goals for the Republican Party and Washington. 

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