Political momentum is always a good thing. Republicans have seemingly found a formula that works, and it’s winning elections across the country. Virginia’s gubernatorial election was an upset to say the least. New Jersey’s Phil Murphy managed to stave off Jack Ciattarelli by a hair’s length, despite pollsters predicting Murphy on course for a 7–8-point victory margin. In Florida, Republican voters have officially overtaken registered Democrats for the first time in the state’s history.
The Real Clear Politics generic congressional vote average has Republicans leading Democrats nationally by a solid 4-point margin, which seems to be the first time Republicans have led the poll in a very long time. In (albeit reluctantly) following the advice of the GOP’s ‘Trumpist’ wing, conservatives have managed to capitalize on cultural issues as fuel for election campaigns.
Glenn Youngkin correctly pointed out that Virginia’s K-12 education system is being laced with core tenets of Critical Race Theory. McAuliffe responded by gaslighting the voters, and the moderate suburbanites who so enthusiastically turned out for Joe Biden in 2020 went right back to the Republican corner, as if nothing had ever happened for the Democrats.
The Virginia gubernatorial election in particular is a testament to what the conservative movement is capable of when conservatives actually begin to focus on conserving things for a change. It’s official: strong, forceful cultural arguments win elections. The conservative movement in 2021 is a sleeping giant that, if awakened properly, could have a fighting chance of effectively waging (and winning) cultural battles in American institutions against the left-wing status quo.
Actually legislating, however, remains an even bigger challenge that Republicans still haven’t figured out. Even if 2022 is the “red tsunami” many are claiming it’s going to be, will Republicans have the political unity in Congress to actually do what the people elected them to do?
This is a question that Republicans aren’t asking themselves, and it’s about time they started to. It’s wonderful that conservatives have found a way to better articulate themselves to voters. It’s great that Joe Biden’s grand illusion of “Uncle Joe, Captain Moderate” is crumbling before everyone’s eyes, just as conservatives said it would.
We can sit around and cheer on Kevin McCarthy for breaking Nancy Pelosi’s House floor speaking record, calling him “based” or cheering him on as a “fighter,” but at the end of the day, it’s all talk. McCarthy hasn’t actually exemplified any political or legislative initiative from his decision to ramble on for more than eight hours on the House floor. The same goes for Republicans who announce that they’ve introduced some new “groundbreaking” legislation that will most assuredly never make it past committee. Rep. Marjorie Taylor-Greene (R-GA), for instance, introduced Articles of Impeachment against President Joe Biden. Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL) introduced the “American Sovereignty Act,” which proposed to withdraw the United States from the United Nations.
Proposed legislation such as these provoke raucous applauses from crowds of hardcore MAGA supporters, and maybe the “Conservative Populist” influencers on social media create a new T-shirt that they can promote and sell as a mini cash grab. At the end of the day, a huge wave of faux outrage is created that yields absolutely no action. The sad part is that politicians such as Greene and Rogers know full-well that these bills are unrealistic. They know that they don’t have the political capital to succeed, even if they are indeed rooted in agreeable sentiment or sound principles. But they introduce these bills anyway, because they know that they can take advantage of a movement that has a bad habit of allocating its energy toward grifters.
A clear and concise legislative agenda, that delivers on the issues Republicans have been pushing, would do wonders for an already rejuvenated GOP. It would be the final piece of the puzzle that Republicans need to cultivate a truly cohesive and functional conservative movement in 2021.
If Republicans sweep in 2022, there are no excuses. Conservative voters must be clear when addressing candidates claiming to be for “America First”: you either work for us, or you don’t work at all. That is especially true if Republicans win back the White House in 2024.