It’s wonderful that all of this is happening, but…
It’s hard to believe, but in the last week or so, a number of conservative heroes have emerged in news stories big and small. Some of them you’ve heard of, and some of them remain nameless, but all of them have taken us further along the incremental road towards a being better nation, more or less willingly. Here’s a quick rundown of who they are and what they did.
I never thought I’d be holding up Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN), and Vice President Mike Pence (R-IN) as conservative heroes, but here we are. With the completely predictable coronavirus resurgence now burning through the same Sun Belt states that mocked earlier outbreaks in hotspots like Detroit and New York City, these Republicans finally came to terms with their responsibility to protect all Americans by advocating the wearing of face masks in public, as soon as it started affecting the people who vote for them.
Over at the Supreme Court, Chief Justice John Roberts has become a swing vote of sorts, siding with the Court’s liberals on some high profile decisions. In June Medical Services v. Russo, the Court struck down a Louisiana law that would have threatened to close four out of Louisiana’s six remaining abortion providers. The law was nearly identical to a Texas law that the Court ruled against in 2016, however, and as such, Roberts dissented by upholding the doctrine of stare decisis, once considered a conservative virtue.
In the Senate, Republican leaders are finally standing up to hold the President accountable for his actions (or lack thereof) after learning of possible bounties paid to Taliban fighters who kill American troops. Apparently this was a bridge too far for the likes of Rick Scott (R-FL), Ben Sasse (R-NE), Todd Young (R-IN), and Cory Gardner (R-CO). These conservative heroes may even find some way to retaliate against Moscow, such as imposing further sanctions or declaring Russia to be a state sponsor of terrorism.
Ohio Republicans recently joined a bipartisan effort to pressure General Motors to repay over $60 million in subsidies that the company pocketed between 2009-2016 in exchange for keeping its Lordstown plant open. Ohio AG David Yost joined fellow Republican Rob Portman as well as Democrats Sherrod Brown and Tim Ryan to demand that Ohio claw back the incentives after GM reneged on the 2009 agreement, closing the plant and eliminating more than 4,000 jobs over two years. It’s refreshing to see conservative heroes like these siding with workers and taxpayers instead of asking Democrats why they hate business.
Meanwhile, in Mississippi, conservative heroes at the state’s Historical Society released a statement “enthusiastically and unequivocally” supporting the adoption of a new state flag. Tate Reeves, Mississippi’s Republican governor, signed a bill last week that would remove Confederate imagery from the flag after considerable pressure from groups as diverse as Black Lives Matter protesters, WalMart, and the Mississippi Baptist Convention.
It’s wonderful that all of this is happening. However worthy of admiration these conservative heroes may be, though, the truth is that people of good will should have been acting this way all along. That we’ve reached the point of patting conservatives on the head for holding to a minimally acceptable level of appropriate behavior like wearing face masks, holding a rogue President responsible for his actions, enforcing contracts, (barely) upholding legal precedent, and replacing outdated racist symbols is indicative of the depth to which we’ve sunk in the last several years. If you’re wondering how much lower the bar will will be set before we’re done, you’re not alone.