Conservatives could primary Robert Aderholt in 2018

Once upon a time in a capitol not so far away, Republican lawmakers were rarely held accountable for supporting bills that wasted tax dollars, increased debt, or made a general mess of our country.

Folks back home would regularly hear their congressmen and senators talk tough, but at the eleventh hour their votes often fell into the “yea” column of whatever bloated, big-government bill the establishment put forward. There wasn’t much blow-back because many voters either didn’t understand the bills, didn’t care, weren’t paying attention, or were just happy to get their share of pork when the slaughter was finished.

That’s how it use to be, but conservatives in Alabama’s fourth congressional district ought to remind U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt, R-Haleyville, that the political landscape has drastically changed.

Aderholt was the only Republican member of Alabama’s congressional delegation to vote last month in favor of a $1.8 trillion budget that was backed by the White House and Democrat leaders in the House and Senate.

The budget’s ever-growing list of faults are outrageous. For starters, it adds $2 trillion to our national debt over the next 20-years, and in a staggering affront, it continues sending millions of our tax dollars to fund Planned Parenthood after its criminal abuses were exposed.

It also pays for the president’s plan to resettle thousands of Syrians in our communities, despite a clear threat that Islamic extremists will infiltrate the refugee population. It expands a program allowing foreign workers into the nation at a time when a record number of Americans have quit looking for jobs. It permits federal funding for “sanctuary cities” which shelter illegal aliens and refuse to cooperate with federal immigration laws. The budget also failed to defund the president’s unconstitutional executive amnesty efforts.

“I feel almost jubilant about what is in this appropriations bill,” Nancy Pelosi said after the vote, adding that the Republicans “gave away the store.”

She’s right. They did.

Conservatives now understand that the stakes have never been greater. The liberal opposition has never been bolder, and our grassroots have never been as well informed and capable of being mobilized.

Simply put, this vote isn’t fading into memory.

Aderholt represents a deeply conservative region of Alabama, stretching from the Mississippi to Georgia state lines, including cities as far north as Tuscumbia and as far south as the suburbs of Tuscaloosa, over to Jasper, Cullman, Guntersville, Gadsden, and Fort Payne. I’m sure the people in those communities don’t approve of their congressman’s support of this budget.

Aderholt defended his vote in a statement that said the “good news” was that the budget represented the “last vestiges” of former Speaker John Boehner’s style of leadership, and that things would be done differently next year.

Wait a second.

Aderholt isn’t some newbie who had to stand idly aside while this train wreck of a budget was written, negotiated, and passed. He’s been in Congress for nearly two decades, longer than any current member of Alabama’s delegation to the House of Representatives. Aderholt isn’t a backbencher on an insignificant committee, either. The second sentence of his official biography touts that he is “a member of the powerful House Committee on Appropriations, which has jurisdiction over funding the operation of the federal government,” and that he serves as chairman of one of its subcommittees.

With all that experience and clout, one would expect Aderholt to lead our state’s fight against such an awful federal budget, or at the very least oppose its final passage. Instead, he voted “yea” along with a majority of Democrats.

Aderholt is known to be a fine and decent family man, and I’m sure he’s done a great deal of good for his district, but with all that’s at stake this is arguably a fireable offense. Unfortunately, it’s too late to mount a meaningful primary challenge to Aderholt in this election cycle. The filing deadline has long passed, and his only challenger isn’t a serious candidate.

But the congressman, and others who might follow his lead, should remember this: like our party’s mascot, the great African elephant, conservative Republicans have long, long memories.