As Republicans headed into the 2020 election cycle, the party didn’t bother to create a national platform for the first time since 1854. It was emblematic of a post-policy party that has no real interest in governing — and it appeared unlikely to change anytime soon.
Indeed, it was just a couple of months ago when Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told his allies that he’d heard talk about the GOP releasing some kind of legislative agenda ahead of the midterm elections, but he was “adamantly“ against the idea.
The Kentucky Republican added last month that he’d let everyone know what his party would do with power after the GOP gains power, not before.
But McConnell isn’t in a position to control what his members do. Politico reported this morning on a new blueprint from Florida Sen. Rick Scott, the current chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
The Florida Republican senator is devising a conservative blueprint for Republicans to enact should they win Senate and House majorities this fall. Among Scott’s priorities: completing the border wall and naming it after former President Donald Trump, declaring “there are two genders,” ending any reference to ethnicity on government forms and limiting most federal government workers — including members of Congress — to 12 years of service.
If the controversial senator intended to start a larger conversation with the unveiling of a 31-page document, Scott will very likely succeed.
“Hopefully, by doing this, we’ll have more of a conversation about what Republicans are going to get done. Because when we get the majority, I want to get something done,” The Floridian told Politico. “There’s things that people would rather not talk about. I’m willing to say exactly what I’m going to do. I think it’s fair to the voter.”
He added it’s “important to tell people what we’re gonna do.”
At face value, it’s a welcome sentiment. There’s a minority party that was voted out of power. It can oppose the majority’s party’s policy agenda, offer an alternative, and ask voters to weigh their options accordingly. In theory, if the minority power is then returned to a position of authority, it can credibly claim to have a popular mandate.
But just below the surface, it’s not nearly that simple.
Scott’s blueprint isn’t a serious approach to modern policymaking. It’s a robust collection of soundbites and bumper-sticker slogans, combining stale ideas (congressional term limits and school vouchers), culture war nonsense (Scott is anti-trans and believes “science” necessitates a ban on abortions), and increasingly dangerous lies (his document insists that Democrats are “trying to rig elections” and want to “legalize voter fraud”).
And, yes, the Floridian really does want to build an ineffectual border wall, which he would then name after Trump.
Some of the ideas included in the document are just absurd on their face. Scott would, for example, “prohibit debt ceiling increases absent a declaration of war,” which is a terrific way to force the United States into default, but which is not a serious proposal.
Just as notable is what isn’t mentioned in the senator’s plan: Scott offers nothing on health care, child care, ideas on how to curb inflation, or even an explanation as to how he would go about pursuing his ostensible, wildly unrealistic ideas.
To call the senator’s document a governing vision is far too generous. It’s a right-wing fantasy.
It’s also emblematic of his party’s larger problem. It’s been over a decade since the Republican Party took any meaningful interest in serious policymaking, and it won’t have an official platform until 2024 at the earliest.
It’s against this backdrop that Rick Scott seems eager to fill the void, but falls short of anything resembling seriousness. Republicans who embrace it will be taking an enormous risk with their careers.