A Real House of Cards

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In the past few years, many Americans have been gripped by the hit Netflix series, House of Cards, the story of the corrupt House Majority Whip, Francis Underwood who exacts vengeance on his political adversaries standing in his way to higher power.

Lately, the story of another Majority Whip moving up the political ladder permeates through news feeds across America. That would be the story of former Majority Whip, Kevin McCarthy (R-CA). McCarthy rose from his role as Whip to Majority Leader after the unprecedented primary defeat of sitting Leader at the time, Eric Cantor (R-VA). McCarthy recently seemed destined to be Speaker of the House after Speaker John Boehner’s (R-OH) resignation announcement.

However, in the midst of this rapid ascendancy, McCarthy ran into a problem that had plagued Boehner in recent years. This was the resilience of more ardent conservative groups within the House, namely, the House Freedom Caucus. The Caucus felt Boehner was not adequately conservative, nor was he willing enough to block President Barack Obama’s executive actions. The Caucus attempted to oust Boehner from his role in the last Speaker elections and failed.

After Boehner’s resignation, the Freedom Caucus effectively blocked McCarthy’s path to the speakership by unifying and demanding effective conservative leadership. After this great conservative victory, talks have drifted towards the election of Representative, and former Republican Vice Presidential candidate, Paul Ryan (R-WI) as the new Speaker. A Ryan speakership would undermine all progress the Freedom Caucus has made in the House and threaten the legitimacy of conservative movements throughout America.

Ryan was once thought of as a conservative voice in the Republican Party, however his recent record suggests he is firmly in line with establishment types like Boehner and McCarthy that House conservatives have tried to prevent. He went left on immigration, and compromised on a budget deal in negotiations with Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) that fell far short of any meaningful spending cuts. He also rebuffed the Tea Party time and time again in his memoir, The Way Forward, criticizing its strategy.

Ryan now says he will be open to a run for Speaker, so long as the entire Republican caucus in the House can unite behind him. This is rather ironic, given how he’s abandoned his support for the Tea Party and has not been willing to embrace their vision for combatting Barack Obama’s policies. Paul Ryan desires the support of his entire party, but will not lend its members the same respect. Ryan cannot unite this legislature now.

Rejecting Ryan’s aspirations for Speaker are also important for staunch House conservatives in the influential House Freedom Caucus, as well as the Republican Study Committee (another conservative caucus). Taking down Boehner as Speaker has been one of the most highlighted agenda points of these two groups for years now. They have done that, and now prevented McCarthy, another establishment leader, from replacing him. With the rise in anti-establishment sentiment evident by the successes of presidential candidates like Donald Trump and Ben Carson in recent polls, this is the ideal time for these groups to stand strong and demand a true conservative Speaker.

If these groups bend to the will of the establishment and believe that Paul Ryan truly is the unifier the Republican Party needs, then it will confirm in the minds of many Americans that the conservative wing of the Republican Party is, in fact, only an apparatus to obstruct any sort of meaningful progress in the legislature. Many in the conservative movement have rejected this image. However, given the current political climate, and the successes against Boehner and McCarthy, it may be impossible to refute if Ryan is allowed to become Speaker.

The yearnings for a Ryan Speakership are not due to lack of options emanating from the conservative wing of the House. Representatives Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), Bill Flores (R-TX), Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA), and Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) have all floated their names out there as potential candidates and all have received ratings of 78% or above from the conservative think tank, Heritage Action on their voting records, well above the House Republican average. The conservatives could reasonably unite behind any one of these candidates to ensure the next Speaker will actually defend conservative interests.

Unfortunately, the idea that the conservative caucus cannot drive the agenda has permeated too far within the Congress. If the Freedom Caucus and its allies accept a Ryan Speakership and view the fact that neither Boehner, nor McCarthy will be the next leader of the Congress as a sufficient victory, then the aforementioned perception is correct and the accusations that House conservatives are only an obstructive force will be justified with flying colors.

This year is unique, politically, for so many reasons. The foremost of which is the rise of the anti-establishment politicians. House conservatives have this unique opportunity to right the wrongs the establishment has allowed in Congress to this point. With this majority, the House should have harnessed the power of the purse to prevent the implementation of Obamacare, the unconstitutional executive amnesty that President Obama has pushed on the nation, and should have been able to defund a grossly mismanaged organization receiving federal funds in Planned Parenthood (regardless of whether or not they profit from the sale of fetal tissue). However, this has not been the case with Speaker Boehner thus far. The time has come to make a change that has been a long time coming. The fate of the conservative movement sits in the House, and, if it is allowed to fail, the house of cards will fall and the legitimacy of conservatives in all offices will fall with it.

Author’s Note: I previously published an article documenting the need to remove Speaker Boehner, as well as Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell from their posts in April, and detailed their failures as legislators. That article can be found here: https://aucrsblog.com/2015/04/15/donkeys-in-elephants-clothing/

When Identities Collide: The Case of Minority Conservatives

I’m an Asian immigrant. I’m a minority in the United States. And I’m a conservative. But most of all, I’m proud of all of these identities. Every time my liberal friends discover my conservatism, their eyes widen and their faces explode in disbelief. Some liberals tried their best to be polite, but in their glances I could sense their surprise and confusion over my identity as a conservative. Some liberals thought I was joking because they couldn’t fathom that an Asian man or an immigrant can be conservative. Some went as far as accusing me of being on the wrong side solely because my heritage doesn’t align with conservatism, at least in their opinions. While I believe that the aforementioned individuals and others have the right to hold their own judgments on who I am and how I identify myself, I want to stress that conservatism shouldn’t be reduced to one’s gender, race, sexual orientation, status, religion, or other social factors.

Being a minority is not an antonym of conservatism. Take for example, Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina. She is a woman[1] who holds conservative values. Instead of being considered as a strong candidate in her own might, she is criticized for her pro-life views and often unfairly labelled as anti-woman or anti-feminist. Men can either identify as pro-life or pro-choice, and no one bats an eye. Fiorina, a woman, believes life begins at conception, and as a result, she becomes the subject of scrutiny for “betraying women.” If anything, Fiorina is actually empowering women through her conservative values by asserting that women can be pro-life if they so choose.

Similarly, there are similar ideological stereotypes involving race. For example, Senator Marco Rubio is a Cuban American, and he falls into the racial minority category. Rubio’s conservative views on immigration are often attributed as backstabbing the Hispanic electorate. He is criticized for turning his back on his “people.” However, he is not turning his back on anyone. He was not elected because of his racial identity. He was elected because the people of Florida believe that his conservative abilities, ideas, and values aptly represent the state. If a white man can identify as a liberal without anyone telling him that he betrayed the Republican Party, which apparently is the party of rich white males, then a Hispanic man can hold conservative values despite being a minority.

Let the following examples remind you why it’s completely normal to be both a minority and a conservative. Former Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, the first woman to be appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court, is a known conservative. Justice Clarence Thomas, one of the most conservative justices on the Supreme Court, is a black man. Former Congressman Jim Kolbe of Arizona is a homosexual Republican. And here’s the best part: while all five major Democratic presidential nominees for 2016 are white, the Republicans have two Latino-Americans (Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz), one African-American (Ben Carson), and an Indian-American (Bobby Jindal).

Being a minority has its difficulties; it gets frustrating and even disheartening. So, let’s not further frustrate the lives of minority conservatives through judgment, scorn, and slander. Let’s not crucify individuals for holding conservative values that epitomize their identities and much more. Let’s not compartmentalize ideology by race or gender. For fellow minority conservatives out there: do not let society’s idea of the “norm” define you. Do not let society strip you off of your conservative values. Wear your identities with pride and your heads held high. We may be few in number, but we are more than a percentage. Beneath the numbers are our unique stories and complex identities that are deserving of being heard and respected. It’s 2015. Let’s grow up and revere each other’s views.

[1] Women are a majority in terms of population in the United States. However, unfortunately, they are considered a minority population by sociologists because “they tend to have less power and fewer privileges than men” in today’s society.

The Decline of American Values is the Cause of Current Gun Violence

Another week, another mass shooting. This time a shooter, whose name isn’t even worth mentioning because he is the nadir of humanity, shot and killed nine individuals, apparently targeting Christians, and wounded many others at Umpqua Community College, before turning the gun on himself and ending his pathetic life. Before the bodies went cold, our glorious leader Barack Obama called for increased gun control policy saying: “Our thoughts and prayers are not enough.” The left is quick to blame all the current mass shootings on the proliferation of guns in our society and calls for restricting gun access. Contrary to what the left would tell you, gun violence is actually down, as cited by the Pew Research center, (http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2013/05/07/gun-homicide-rate-down-49-since-1993-peak-public-unaware/). People like the Oregon shooter and the Sandy Hook Shooter will always exist, but our nation’s current decline in morals is largely to blame for the distraught mindset of many isolated young people and their psychosis that causes mass killings. Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee stated earlier this week that “We have not so much a gun problem, we have a problem with sin and evil”.

Mike Huckabee, a republican presidential candidate, gestures as he speaks on stage Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015 in Florence, Ala. Florence was Huckabee's first stop on his campaign day in Alabama. He also visited Sylacauga, Selma and Dothan. (Allison Carter/The TimesDaily via AP)

Although Huckabee’s statement could be received poorly by many nonbelievers, his statement still holds true. The moral values that most religious institutions call for have an important role in maintaining peace in our nation; even nonbelievers can see this. We do not treat the mentally ill, and even tell certain groups of people with mental illnesses that there is nothing wrong with them, nothing that needs to be treated. We turn a blind eye to the strife of Christian and Yezidis in the Middle East, and the killing and probable sale of the unborn at home. Our country has a grave problem, and posting images of a mass killer simply gives people with similar mindsets more power: the power of Herostratic fame. The image we should be filling our media with is the man who stood up to this evil, Chris Mintz, a true hero who exemplifies self-sacrifice and exceptionalism. Don’t embolden evil; glorify the righteous.

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