Judd Gregg: Saving the Senate

Judd Gregg: Saving the Senate
© Greg Nash

There is the old, rather worn, but still applicable adage of “when you are in a hole, stop digging."

This could definitely be applied to the Republican Senate.

The Republicans in the Senate have been supplicants to President TrumpDonald John TrumpTeachers union launches 0K ad buy calling for education funding in relief bill FDA head pledges 'we will not cut corners' on coronavirus vaccine Let our values drive COVID-19 liability protection MORE.

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They have marched behind him as he has marginalized himself more and more with his weak and divisive leadership on almost all issues of significance, from the coronavirus crisis to the more general goal of giving the nation a purposeful direction.

It is well past time for Senate Republicans to stand up for themselves.

At least seven and maybe more Republican Senate members who are running for reelection may not be returning if the president, who seems to be oblivious to his stylistic and substantive disconnect with the majority of Americans, meets a defeat in November of Barry Goldwater proportions.

Goldwater, the Republican presidential nominee in 1964, lost to President Lyndon Johnson in a landslide, carrying just six states.

Trump has yet to give any meaningful reason why he should be reelected other then his dislike of the mainstream media (which is well-founded) and his own narcissistic self-importance.

Neither of these idiosyncrasies helps build an agenda that attracts more then a minority of electoral support.

There is no there, there with this president. There is only a “me” there.

Republican senators, like most elected officials, are a risk-averse group. They have chosen to be background to the Trump presidency.

This is no longer a viable path for those up for reelection in competitive states. This, in turn, imperils the party’s hopes of retaining the Senate majority.

It would be an obvious understatement to note that if the radical left of the Democratic Party takes the presidency and continues to control the House of Representatives, the key to avoiding a socialist Armageddon lies with the Republicans holding the Senate.

But it is difficult to see how Republican members can hold onto the Senate if they keep inextricably tying themselves to the misanthropic style of Trump.

Rather then being the “very stable genius” that the president has proclaimed himself, he appears more often to be an unguided political missile who might well lead those who follow him to a defeat of historic proportions.

It is late, maybe later than they think, but the Republican Senate, as the last rational group standing in the Republican Party now milling around Washington, should present its own largely positive argument for why it should continue to run the Senate.

It needs a name and set of goals that make sense.

Call it if you wish: “An Answer to Socialism.”

It does not require a specific set of policies but rather a specific set of purposes —

Lay out why a Democratic Party that has moved so far left is truly out of touch with Main Street Americans.

Call up ideas that make sense when governing our nation — ideas built on individual liberties, market economics and opportunity.

Among these ideas would be a clear commitment to a national culture that respects our history.

Reject, in other words, the tearing down of statutes of leaders like Presidents Jackson, Grant, Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt. But also reform an educational system which does not understand, teach or believe in the essential elements of our exceptional America story.

Attack the dependency state that has been built up since Lyndon Johnson’s presidency. It has spent trillions of dollars only to produce less prosperity, less safety and more dislocation in our cities while building a massive left-leaning patronage machine.

Replace it with policies that give people a chance through school choice and entrepreneurial upward mobility.

Address the need to grow our economy not by growing our government but by expanding opportunity through a tax code that rewards initiative.

Set out a course to protect us not only from this pandemic but from the next one that may come, by setting up a systematic, massive commitment to develop vaccines and prevention.

Relatedly, stop the trial bar from using this pandemic as a piggy bank with lawsuits that disable small businesses’ ability to recover.

Address the pressing issue of healthcare reform with policies that promote the marketplace of ideas for better care and individual choice.

Address immigration reform not as a threat, but rather a way to make our nation stronger — as immigrants always have — and more competitive in this global economy.

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Return to a course that rebuilds our strategic alliances. NATO especially has been essential in protecting both our security and freedom across the world.

Promote educational systems that advance knowledge rather then constraining it through the teaching of the political correctness of the left.

Make it clear that as communities we owe a great deal to the vast majority of police and other public servants who often put their lives at risk so that we may have our safety and freedoms.

Overwhelmingly, they do so with professionalism and respect for the people they serve.

Mention that the debt is the threat!

The Republican senators have a unique and almost limitless chance to distance themselves from the radical movement that has taken over the Democratic Party and will take over the nation’s government if the Senate loses its Republican majority.

To do this, Senate Republican need to define themselves and their reasons for being there.

It is time to step out of the narrowing shadow of the president and to speak for all the people in this country who are wondering what has happened in Washington.

Where is the leadership, common sense and the promotion of the values that have made our nation special?

The Senate Republicans are pretty much the last hope.

They need to fulfill this calling.

Judd Gregg (R) is a former governor and three-term senator from New Hampshire who served as chairman and ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, and as ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Foreign Operations subcommittee.