The Washington Times Weekly
The GOP shadow Cabinet
If McConnell and McCarthy want to keep the wrath of Trump at bay, they must lead with a more structured approach
What a waste. A month into the Biden presidency and congressional Republicans are still chasing their tails. With the impeachment trial over, the rudderless GOP communications apparatus, overshadowed by Donald Trump’s noxious Twitter feed for the past four years, needs a reset that makes it more aggressive, more disciplined and more effective.
It’s time for beleaguered Republicans to borrow a page from the playbook of our cousins in the British Parliament and appoint a shadow Cabinet.
If leaders Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy want to attempt to keep the wrath of Mr. Trump at bay, they must lead with a more structured approach to countering the Democrats’ superior level of organization and political influence. Every minute from this point forward spent talking about the political future of the 45th president or the likes of Marjorie Taylor Greene does nothing to combat the dangerous Biden-Sanders agenda.
Recent intra-party wrangling has left many rightly asking whether the party can take the fight to the left. This is after all the same GOP that never presented an alternative to Obamacare, didn’t get credit for cutting taxes in 2017 because they bizarrely chose to punish suburban property owners, and blasted spending and deficits while voting for more of both. It is the same GOP that crows about states’ rights but hasn’t clawed back the power of the federal government one iota.
To be sure, the Democrats’ Saul Alinsky-like strategy works. They relentlessly pursue their agenda on multiple fronts at once to confuse, overwhelm and stifle their opposition.
Republicans, on the other hand, love their think tanks and white papers. There they present grand ideas to protect American freedom, spur economic growth, cut taxes and make government more efficient. Those alternatives are rarely articulated forcefully or effectively.
In order to recapture the confidence of voters, Republicans must start doing what they’ve needed to do for years against an increasingly radical and effective Democratic opposition: Get organized.
In Great Britain, members of Parliament form the Official Opposition Shadow Cabinet to pointedly critique the majority’s policies and articulate opposing viewpoints. These are official titles given to MPs who focus on a particular set of issues.
Naming a shadow Cabinet from among the GOP’s most eloquent and dynamic members in both chambers would provide Republicans with a chorus of credible voices on everything from China policy to public housing. It would help the party maintain a sense of message discipline as each shadow cabinet member, in coordination with leadership, would be responsible for ensuring conference members had a focused set of points on issues of the day.
This concept harnesses the unique strengths of individual members. Mr. McConnell may be known as a shrewd tactician on the Senate floor, but he’s not a compelling speaker nor does he connect with audiences on television. It would further help rebuild confidence among groups of voters they need to win and provide consistency for the public, as shadow
Cabinet members would be principally responsible for press conferences and national media interviews covering their areas of responsibility.
The shadow Cabinet gives Republicans the opportunity to highlight a diverse conference and those with deep expertise on a range of issues. Consider: Sen. Tim Scott for HUD; Sen. Joni Ernst for Agriculture; Sen. Ted Cruz hitting back at DOJ; Sen. Marco Rubio tackling the Biden-Sanders Labor agenda; Rep. Virginia Foxx taking on Education; Congresswoman Young Kim pushing back against Mr. Biden’s racist “equity” push; Reps. Dan Crenshaw, Michael Waltz, Brian Mast, Lee Zeldin or any number of others for State, Defense and Homeland Security.
If GOP leaders continue to take a disjointed approach to a powerful and more unified Democratic-socialist machine, Republicans will not only doom their chances of retaking control of Congress, they will have ensured the radical left’s goal of fundamentally changing America. Now is not the time to react to Mr. Trump. Now is the time to get organized. Bring on the shadow Cabinet.