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Let’s welcome squabbling politicians

4 mins read

By Bill Rauch

The surprise in the June 12 primary results was how close the races were.

Given the tightness of the races I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise how nasty some of them were, too, but Ronald Reagan, who famously said, “The 11th commandment is, ‘Thou shall not speak ill of any fellow Republican,’ ” would have been affronted by much of what he heard.

But that was then (1966), and this is now.

There are a bunch of runoff races coming June 26 on the Republican side, including one for the South Carolina GOP gubernatorial line, so the squabbling will likely continue.

Two reasons for the factional political climate come to mind: Times are good, and the Republican Party is actively in the process of remaking itself.

What do I mean? Take the second part first. Steve Bannon, the former presidential adviser, started talking about this three or four years ago when he was at Breitbart News. Many Republicans weren’t listening yet, but Donald Trump was.

It was time, Bannon said then, for the country to turn inward, to get its own house in order, and to quit wasting valuable resources on unappreciative allies abroad. He called for Mitch McConnell, now the longest-serving GOP Senate Majority Leader in the history of the United States Senate, to resign his post. He called for new faces to come to Washington to execute this new inward turn.

Presidential candidate Donald Trump, a political newcomer who was unattached to the ways of the past, found Bannon’s protectionist message resonated with voters, and midway into his campaign he took Bannon on as his campaign’s chief strategist. What we have been seeing in Washington over the last year-and-a-half is President Trump fulfilling his campaign promises and executing his out-with-the-old-and-in-with-the-new-Washington approach. Fiscal conservatism is out, defense spending is in. Multiculturalism is out, border protection is in. Free trade is out, tariffs are in. Human rights are out and strongmen are in.

The changes are dizzying.

So much change so fast will inevitably lead to factionalization, which leads to inter-party squabbling, and so the races are nip and tuck.

Which brings me back to the first point — the good times. Thankfully all this comes at a time of peace and prosperity. California’s gross domestic product (GDP) is now greater than Great Britain’s. The United States’ GDP is greater than that of the other six industrial powerhouse countries that comprise the G7 (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Great Britain) combined. The U.S. stock markets are just off their recent all-time high, unemployment is at a 17-year low, and U.S. consumer confidence and retail sales are up and rising. Moreover, with nearly 200,000 U.S. servicemen and women currently deployed overseas controlling terrorism, just 13 lost their lives in combat-related maneuvers in the first six months of 2018. While each death is a national tragedy, that number is way down from recent years.

What all these numbers mean is that times are good, and when times are good elected officials traditionally enjoy the self-indulgent luxury of squabbling with one another.

Next time you pass by a place of worship (is it still OK to use that politically correct term?), go in and pray that the squabbling continues.

Bill Rauch was the mayor of Beaufort from 1999-2008. Email Bill at TheRauchReport@gmail.com.

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