Category: Mike Scruggs' Column

The GOP Establishment vs. Grassroots Conservatives

On Saturday, June 21, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal told approximately a thousand evangelical leaders at the annual convention of the Faith and Freedom Coalition that a rebellion is brewing in the U.S with people ready for “a hostile takeover” of the nation’s capital. Jindal hit hardest on President Obama and other Democrats, accusing them of waging a war against religious liberty and education. However, there is also a war within the Republican Party that is becoming more visible and fiercely fought in Republican Congressional primaries. 

The conflict within the Republican Party is between grassroots conservatives, often but not predominantly led by Tea Party groups, and the so-called Republican “establishment.” The grassroots conservatives generally adhere to stricter Constitutional standards than the GOP establishment and are more likely to hold stronger views on religious and values issues. The conservatives also hold much stronger views on free markets and limited government than the GOP establishment who tend to hold big-business-big government corporatist views of prosperity and government. Both factions are for a strong national defense, but the grassroots conservatives are more likely to be skeptical on foreign interventions. Within the grassroots spectrum there is a strong strain of libertarianism in some of the Tea Party groups. The grassroots conservatives are more likely to temper libertarian economics with religious-based moral and ethical restraints.  Many in the GOP establishment also hold libertarian economic ideas, but based on big-business prosperity rather than the general welfare of the people.

A frequent flashpoint between grassroots conservatives and the GOP establishment is immigration. The conservatives believe our immigration policies should benefit all Americans, especially American wage earners and small businesses—not just the profits of big corporations. The conservatives also want to maintain American cultural and religious values.

The GOP establishment wants its big donors to keep on profiting from cheap foreign labor, legal or illegal, with as few restrictions as possible. The GOP establishment also tends to pander to ethnic minorities as a means of staying in office, while ignoring the complaints and suffering of the grassroots conservatives and the American people in general.  Grassroots conservatives want good jobs for American wage earners.  The GOP establishment wants to maintain themselves in office by big political donations and support from individuals and corporations who are making enormous profits using cheap foreign labor at the expense of American workers and taxpayers.  According to America’s most preeminent labor economist, Harvard’s George Borjas, the users of cheap foreign labor profit $435 billion per year at the expense of American wage earners of about $405 billion per year, amounting to nearly $2,800 per year for the average American wage earner.  The vast majority of academic researchers support Borjas in this assertion. The corporatist users of cheap foreign labor have many reports alleging their important positive contributions to the American economy, but they are unsound in their economic analysis. They are actually doing major damage to the American economy by hurting American workers and expecting taxpayers to subsidize the more than $100 billion in annual costs to state and local governments.

Greed plus political correctness is a disastrous formula for national prosperity. It is also a highly effective strategy to turn the American electorate from center-right to center-left. The irony of this political change is that it will ultimately kill the golden goose of free enterprise altogether, even the crony-capitalism that drives cheap labor profits.

The unspoken major issue of the GOP establishment primary campaigns has been a full-court press to further the principal cheap labor objectives of amnesty for 12 million illegal immigrants and a major increase in legal cheap labor contained in Senate Immigration “reform” bill S.744.  S.744 would increase legal cheap labor by 30 to 33 million over the next decade, a great profit boon to cheap labor users and a brutal slap in the face to American workers. Its four major Republican sponsors in the Senate are John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Marco Rubio, and Jeff Flake. Most Republicans in the U.S. House want no part of this gang’s S.744 immigration “reform” bill.  Unfortunately, the House Republican leadership—John Boehner, Eric Cantor, Kevin McCarthy, Paul Ryan, and John Goodlatte want to please big donors and ethnic minorities with it.  The Heritage Foundation estimates the amnesty portion of S.744 alone will cost $6.3 Trillion over the next 50 years, or about $126 billion per year. This doesn’t count the Amnesty Explosion Effect, where two to three new illegal immigrants arrive for every amnesty. Just look at the current crisis President Obama has caused in Texas and Arizona to see how explosive an anticipated amnesty can be.  As to the 20 million Americans who want a full-time job and cannot find one, the GOP establishment doesn’t seem concerned about jobs for Americans.

The Republican Civil War came under the national spotlight, when economics professor Dave Brat decisively defeated Republican House Leader Eric Cantor in the June 3, Virginia Congressional District 7 primary, campaigning not only on traditional Republican economic, fiscal, family values, and national security issues, but also very strongly against Cantor’s support for a so-called children’s amnesty.  Brat boldly told voters how badly they were being hurt by Obama-Democratic Party and GOP establishment immigration policy.

In the Republican Civil War, the GOP establishment has most of the media support and almost all of the big money. Lindsey Graham raised $8.5 million and outspent the combined efforts of his four most formidable opponents in the South Carolina GOP primary by more than four to one. Even then, he only won because of a huge orchestrated Democratic crossover vote in the Republican primary.  Although Graham is practically Mr. Amnesty, his opponents hardly raised the issue, demonstrating the effective intimidation of even staunch conservatives on raising immigration issues.  Suppressed voter concerns are beginning to boil over.

The June 24 Republican run-off primary in Mississippi was another triumph for Democratic cross-over votes. Even more disturbing was GOP establishment literature suggesting that the Tea Party was attempting to stop blacks from voting.


Leonard M. (Mike) Scruggs is the author of Lessons from the Vietnam War: Truths the Media Never Told You, 2009; and The Un-Civil War: Shattering the Historical Myths, 2011.

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