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Deroy Murdock: What the GOP should learn from the Ohio special election

August 09. 2018 11:10PM

THE STILL-UNDECIDED special election in Ohio’s 12th Congressional District should send this message to GOP leaders on Capitol Hill: Energize Republicans and enervate Democrats.

Ohio-12 has been in GOP hands since 1983. President Donald J. Trump won it by 11 points. Thus, Republican Troy Balderson should have sleepwalked to victory. Instead, Democrat Danny O’Connor marched to a veritable tie. Trump’s Saturday rally may have electrified Republicans: Balderson holds a 1,754-vote edge, at this writing. However, 8,483 absentee and provisional ballots remain uncounted. Final results may not emerge until Aug. 24.

Even if Balderson prevails, this should have been easy.

Like over-inflated inner-tubes, if Democrats were any more pumped up, they would explode. Conversely, a July 22 NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found that a stunning 88 percent of Republican voters support President Trump. But whether GOP turnout will keep Congress Republican is the most urgent question in American politics.

How, then, can House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell deflate the Democrats’ tire and keep Republicans rolling, so that enough liberals stay home and enough conservatives show up to keep Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer in the minority? These steps might help:

First, news reports that McConnell, yet again, will surrender to Schumer on spending damn well better be mere gossip. Another profligate omnibus disaster will disgust and demoralize Republican voters. March’s 2,232-page, $1.3 trillion spend-o-rama made fiscal conservatives almost physically ill. I endured rage, nausea, and paralytic ennui. If McConnell and Ryan inflict such emotions on base Republicans just before the midterms, they might as well hand Pelosi the gavel.

McConnell should schedule individual votes on each House-passed appropriations bill. This would fund the government, essentially, department by department. This avoids a tragically typical catch-all bill that gleans heaps of garbage, like a driftnet trawling a polluted harbor.

McConnell should put the most controversial item — funds for President Trump’s signature border wall — into the final bill to be considered: legislative-branch appropriations. If Democrats reject it, then a government shutdown only would affect Congress. If Democrats want to padlock the House and Senate to keep America’s southern frontier wide open, let them.

Meanwhile, the far-left Democrat base dreams of building the United States of Venezuela. House Republicans should call the Resistance’s bluff and vote on the Democratic-Socialist agenda.

House Democrats include cautious traditionalists as well as radicals who sing the Siren song of New York House candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Triggering this fault line would split Democrats. Their leftist shock troops would be frustrated and depressed when they see fellow Democrats oppose College for All (10-year-price tag: $807 billion,) Jobs for All ($6.8 trillion,) Medicare for All ($32 trillion,) ICE for None, and Impeachment for Trump.

Such a legislative schism will expose many Democrats who oppose these measures as, in the eyes of the increasingly pro-Bernie Sanders base, DINOs — Democrats in Name Only. At the margin, this would leave Bernieites and Resistniks dejected.

Seeing unified Republicans defeat these far-left fantasies would rally GOP voters and remind them of what could happen if, God forbid, Democrats won the House.

And if Democrats voted en masse for these socialist baubles, then they will have outed themselves as spendthrift Chavistas. Republicans then could tie Democrats to what Manhattan Institute scholar Brian Riedl calculates as the tab for this Democratic-Socialist shopping list: $42.5 trillion — almost precisely double today’s $21.3 trillion national debt.

Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News Contributor, a contributing editor with National Review Online, and an emeritus media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford University.

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