If the Republican party wins control of the Senate in tomorrow’s midterm elections, the greatest challenge it will face over the next two years will be convincing conservatives that it is worthy of their support going into 2016. Conservatives are mightily disillusioned with this Republican Party: With the exception of a notable handful of Republicans in the House of Representatives and the Senate, many in the party have remained almost silent in the face of numerous scandals, cover-ups and unconstitutional transgressions on the part of the Obama administration.
Aside from the Benghazi incident, the Fast and Furious gun-running operation, the President’s willful negligence of immigration enforcement and several occasions on which he acted without the required consent of Congress, one of the biggest concerns among those on the right has been the blatant politicization of some of the most powerful federal agencies. The Internal Revenue Service has gone after conservative organizations and businesses, the Department of Justice has operated a race-based approach to enforcing federal law and even the Secret Service and ATF have been used to intimidate and harass the President’s critics. Conservatives will demand nothing less than a redress of these issues.
With a relatively slim majority in the House of Representatives and a minority in the Senate, Republicans were largely off the hook, in terms of mounting any meaningful resistance to the extreme leftist element currently steering the Democratic Party. Countless bills have passed through the House of Representatives, many of them passed with bipartisan support, only for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to prevent them ever seeing the light of day on the floor of the Senate.
Majorities in both the House of Representatives and the Senate will mean that Republicans no longer have that as an excuse. Even though they will not have a blank check to pass legislation, since the President still holds the power of veto, Republicans will be under enormous pressure from their own constituents to take decisive action on immigration, healthcare and photo ID laws. They will also be expected to guide America’s foreign policy; particularly in the Middle East. The President’s ineptness in this area has led to a quagmire in Iraq and Syria and may have brought US-Israeli relations to crisis-point.
looming large over even these important issues, however, will be the specter of impeachment. For the Republican Party, impeachment of the President is very much the double-edged sword. On the one hand, even beginning impeachment proceedings against Barack Obama will stir the left into a frenzy. Republicans will face shrill accusations of vindictiveness, racism and of extracting political revenge. Many conservatives, on the other hand, will demand no less from a Republican controlled Congress. The left would spend the next two years using such a turn of events as a weapon. For conservatives, however, impeachment is not about revenge and certainly not about the color of the President’s skin; it is about justice, a redress of numerous grievances and, above, a clear demonstration that no President is above the rule of law and is, most certainly, not beyond the limits imposed by the Constitution.
Most likely, impeachment will not happen; too many Republicans simply do not have the stomach for it and their desire to remain in office far outweighs their sense of justice. Although they would be wrong, they would see impeachment as something that will doom them in 2016. Successful impeachment of Barack Obama, however, would be – at least symbolically – the greatest gift the Republican Party could give its base. Certainly, it would be justified and is long overdue. Making impeachment a top priority may well be a mistake, at a time when so many vital issues need to be resolved; neglecting it altogether, however, could prove a fatal mistake. No President – including Bill Clinton – has deserved to be held accountable more than the current one.
After years in the wilderness, the Republican Party must hold onto its increasingly skeptical conservative base. It’s greatest challenge will be to conduct the affairs of state in a way which proves to conservatives that it deserves their loyalty and effort, come the next general election.
Opinion by Graham J Noble