On Tuesday, the overwhelmingly outspent ten-term North Carolina Republican Congressman Walter Jones defeated his neoconservative, establishment-backed opponent and former Bush II official, Taylor Griffin.
Griffin was endorsed by Sarah Palin and heavily subsidized by Sheldon Adelson—but to no avail.
This is huge news, for it signals a potential change of the tides in both the GOP and the “conservative” movement.
Jones, you see, is very much a man of the old right, a conservative, not a neoconservative.
Though a one-time supporter of the Iraq War, he has since become not only one of its staunchest critics; Jones has become an impassioned opponent of the entire missionary foreign policy vision that informed the decision to invade Iraq and for which the GOP became known—notorious—during George W. Bush’s tenure in office.
On Jones’ website, there appears a rapidly changing ticker calculating the costs of America’s wars since 2001. Visitors are informed that to subsidize the 1.5 trillion dollars that have been spent on our foreign adventurism over the course of the last 13 years, American taxpayers pay on an hourly basis well over 10 million dollars!
Jones makes his position on this issue clear:
“Our Constitution, a document I have sworn to protect and defend, explicitly states that our nation does not go to war without Congressional approval. I believe in our Constitution, and I will continue the fight to prevent the president from waging war unilaterally.”
Jones has taken President Obama to court for violating “the Constitution and the War Powers Clause” in launching “war against the Libyan regime without authorization from the U.S. Congress.” He has also proposed legislation “expressing the sense of Congress that it is an impeachable offense for any president to wage offensive war without prior Congressional approval” (italics original).
In addition to the exorbitant costs of sophistically redefining the “national interest” to justify military activism anywhere on the globe, the newly re-elected incumbent identifies another fatal objection to this utopian enterprise: it is inimical to liberty. Jones declares his intentions to “continue the fight to reign in the executive branch and restore power [liberty] to the citizens of our nation” (emphasis added).
Jones maintains that since our policy objectives in Afghanistan—the killing of Osama bin Laden and the dismantling of Al Qaeda—have long since been accomplished, it is a fool’s errand to keep American troops there. He also vehemently opposed intervening in Syria, calling such action “unconstitutional.”
More recently, Jones has refused to endorse any foreign aid to the Ukraine, a position in keeping with his refusal to endorse any and all foreign aid that’s been proposed over the last 16 years. “It makes no sense,” Jones states, “to borrow money from countries like China only to then transfer that money to other foreign countries and the United Nations (UN).”
It is doubtless his stance against all foreign aid—which, obviously, includes foreign aid to Israel—that invited the slur from his opponents that Jones is “anti-Israel.” Thankfully, however, the leftist smear tactics to which establishment Republican types routinely resort when going up against those to their right failed in this case.
Of 435 members of Congress, the pro-immigration enforcement organization, NumbersUSA, locates Jones among an elite group of ten—ten!—that can be trusted to combat illegal immigration. Jones has co-sponsored legislation designed to eliminate birthright citizenship, “chain migration,” and promote English as America’s official language.
Yet Jones isn’t just an opponent of Unlimited Government now that his party is in the minority. He as well voted against President Bush’s No Child Left Behind act, which Jones (rightly) refers to as a “federal takeover of our education system.” Moreover, Jones would not support Bush’s “massive expansion of the entitlement system through the Medicare Prescription Drug Bill,” his “pork-filled Highway Bill that included the infamous ‘Bridge to Nowhere,’” and the former President’s “Wall Street bank bailout also known as ‘TARP.’”
Jones is also the sole member of the House of Representatives “to have voted against every single increase in the federal debt limit over the past nine years.”
Does Walter Jones’ victory portend a reversal of fortunes for the neoconservatives that have dominated the GOP for decades? It’s anyone’s guess at this moment. Yet that his establishment opponent lost despite having far bigger names (like Palin) and far bigger bucks (like those of Adelson) behind him, suggests that, at the very least, the neocon halcyon days of Bush II are far behind us.
Jones’ victory also might serve as a wake-up call to the Republican Party that it is at its own peril that it refuses to recognize that a not insignificant segment of its base will no longer tolerate being ignored or mocked.