Missouri’s Hateful 8

Political pundits and prognosticators are apoplectic over the rise of Trump.

How could such a buffoon be taken so seriously by so many, they ask each other nightly on cable news and daily on op-ed pages. Don’t they know he’s not qualified for public office?

That may be true. It also misses the point entirely.

Here are some professional politicians: Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, James Buchanan, Barack Obama.

Here are some of the great gifts bestowed upon us by professional public servants: The Civil War, the Bay of Pigs, Stagflation, Obamacare, the U.S. Post Office.

Yes, Americans are quite used to suffering the wages of professional public servants. And Republican voters have perhaps suffered most of all. When liberals elect liberal presidents, they get liberal policies (Medicare). When conservatives elect Republican presidents, they get … liberal policies (Medicare Part D).

Liberal presidents appoint liberal Supreme Court Justices who produce liberal opinions (Ginsburg). Republican presidents appoint Republican justices who produce… liberal opinions (Roberts).

And it’s not just at the national level that the Republican establishment is disappointing the activists to whom they owe their political fortunes. Take Missouri, for example.

Earlier this year, Governor Jay Nixon vetoed a right-to-work bill, which would have given Missouri workers the right to opt out of union membership and dues without endangering their employment.

Right-to-work has become the sine qua non of Republican governance. As my boss and friend Grover Norquist pointed out to me, states with Republican-controlled governments all also have right-to-work laws on the books.

Well, almost all. There are exceptions. Like Missouri.

On September 16 the Missouri legislature convened in a veto session to consider, among other things, overriding the governor’s right-to-work veto. Should have been a slam dunk, considering Republicans have overwhelming majorities in both houses. In fact, so dominant is the GOP in Jefferson City that right-to-work could only die at the hand of Republicans.

And that’s exactly what happened.  Right-to-work was stabbed by its own friends in the halls of the legislature. Et tu, GOP?

Twenty Republicans voted not to give workers the freedom of assembly and speech they deserve according to the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. According to insiders, speaking to the Center for Worker Freedom on condition of anonymity, the night before the vote eight Republicans made explicit to their colleagues that they would not support right-to-work under any circumstances.

When the rest realized the measure could not succeed without those eight votes, the rest – including many who had pledged to vote yes – began deserting the sinking ship. These intractable eight representatives are:  

Rep. Anne Zerr (R)
Rep. Kathie Conway (R)
Rep. Kevin Corlew (R)
Rep. Shane Roden (R)
Rep. Sheila Solon (R)
Rep. Kevin Engler (R)
Rep. Linda Black (R)
Rep. Bill Kidd (R)

Though it came as a shock to no one, the Center for Worker Freedom recently reported that many of these wavering Republicans had received significant union support. Corlew, for example, according to CWF’s Julie Lucarelli:

… has been endorsed by a variety of unions including: The Missouri Teachers Association, International Union of Painters & Allied Trades Dist. Council 3, Teamsters Local Nos. 41, 245, 541, 838 and Laborers Local #264.

Others, like Linda Black, have received tens of thousands in campaign contributions from union bosses.

Conservative activists and donors in the Show-Me State have alternated between despondence and rage in the wake of this Republican betrayal, a deep-seated and simmering resentment against an establishment that has sold out principles for expediency time and time again.

And they are done fed up.

Missouri activists are plotting already to punish these recalcitrant Republicans. One wealthy donor has already contributed half a million dollars to a new committee designed specifically to make life very difficult indeed for these union lackeys, and ensure that their political futures are as short and uncomfortable as possible.

It’s a plan born from a desire to dethrone a disappointing establishment, and the same could be said of those who support a reality star/real estate mogul for the most consequential job on earth.

He may be shameless and shifty and unreliably conservative, to say the least. Unfortunately, that is exactly what many conservatives think they usually get anyway. The Donald, at least, is vastly more entertaining and vastly more open about it.

Trump is symptom, not a disease. Those lamenting his rise may as well lament the cough of a sick patient, and not the virus that consumes from within.

Update: Rep. Kevin Corlew tells the Center for Worker Freedom that he did not attend a meeting on the Tuesday night before the vote, though he does not deny voting to kill right-to-work, communicating to colleagues that he intended to do so, or that he has received multiple union endorsements.  

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