Dear GOP: It’s the Product Stupid
October 7, 2009
Dear GOP: It’s the Product Stupid
Beyond a biased media and voter registration fraud by community service organizations such as ACORN, there is one major problem within the GOP that needs to be corrected prior to the 2010 and 2012 elections; the Product (candidates) that the RNC (Republican National Committee) and NRSC (National Republican Senatorial Committee) and NRCC (National Republican Congressional Committee) put on the field. This endless philosophical drift from conservatism, in favor of the idea that ideological diversity is the way for the GOP to mount its comeback, is risking the alienation of conservatives further, fracturing the base and marginalizing the Party.
Republican resurgence must begin with a return to our longstanding ideals of principled conservatism and fiscal responsibility. The failure of GOP political establishment and intellectuals to provide leadership that speaks to ordinary people reflects a disconnect between Party Hierarchy and grassroots. Almost the entire GOP political establishment and Beltway ‘elite’ are out of touch with the grassroots where the strength of conservatism lies. There is nothing attractive about today’s GOP. They are simply watered down Democrats. RINO’s. Progressive-lites. Since there is no RINO Registry, there is no true political group. And, the country does not need two Democratic parties.
The GOP seems entrenched in the philosophy that compromise with the left is a recipe for electability and that mindless bi-partisanship should replace principled conservatism. The Republican Party over the years has incrementally moved far enough to the socialist left in an attempt to expand their voter base that it has melded with the Democrats to form one big socialist ‘Republicrat’ party.
But, 2010 is the mid-term elections and while the GOP brand still remains sour and most Americans do not see Republicans in Congress as offering ‘alternatives’, independent voters especially are “harshly negative” about Democratic leaders in Congress and about policies that are identified as “Democratic.” As a result, Party Leaders should begin laying the road map for GOP campaigns to follow in 2010 by putting a stamp on the Democrat Congress and not just tagging Obama’s policies. With poor polling of both Houses of Congress and Obama, criticizing the ‘Democratic Congress’ is likely to resonate strongly with persuadable independents than strictly criticizing “President Obama’s policies.”
Republican leaders are gambling that the Democrat Congress and Obama are making sizable miscalculations on the public’s appetite for bigger government and bigger deficits. Republican leaders have seized on the Tea Party and Town Hall protests as a sign that he is doing just that. The question is what Republicans have learned from their recent failures. How much do they acknowledge the limits of an anti-government message? Why are Party leaders not recruiting new candidates that represent a set of conservative ideals versus ‘electability’? The Tea Party protests offer the GOP an appealing lifeline.
The GOP should be closely aligning themselves with this eruption of fervor amongst their natural constituency at this pivotal moment. The Party should recognize that if they fail to convince the voters that they are consciously and deliberately making real efforts to re-dedicate themselves to conservative principles, and are elevating and recruiting strong conservatives within their ranks, then the people will continue to drift away from them, and toward independent voter status. The GOP must recruit the right Products for 2010 …and 2012 and beyond…
Party Affiliation vs Philosophy
The RINO plague is nothing short of a long-standing systematic infiltration of the Party. Republicans have been ignoring the lessons of history since the Republican revolution began under Reagan, repeating mistakes historians had long identified as textbook cases of what not to do. That being, the product of “electability” overriding principle. The basic betrayal of conservative principles by the GOP GOP hierarchy illustrates how party lines have become more important than what the party stands for.
The Republican Party has been the party of conservatism since the 1960s, when the conservative wing of the party consolidated its hold, causing it to shift permanently to the right of the Democratic Party. The most dramatic realignment was the white South, which moved from 3-1 Democratic to 3-1 Republican between 1960 and 2000. Surprisingly, the south was one region of the country where Reagan did hid worst.
In June of 2009, according to Gallup, “Conservatives” were identified as the single-largest ideological group with forty-percent of the voting public identifying themselves as “conservative” and 35 percent as self-described “moderates.” Only 21 percent called themselves “liberal.” Yet, that is almost uncannily similar to a poll quoted by Mr. Reagan 30 years ago: “A Harris poll released Sept. 7, 1975, showed 18 per cent identifying themselves as liberal and 31 per cent as conservative, with 41 per cent as middle of the road. ”Unfortunately, in the 2008 elections, 20 percent of “conservatives”, 60 percent of “moderates” and 19 percent of “moderate Republicans” sided with President Obama. Add to the fact that 5% of the GOP sat out and Obama carried independents by eight percentage points over McCain. The GOP is supposed to be conservative, yet the Party keeps winding up with D.C. insiders and Rockefeller Republicans who reside within the establishment.
That realization hit many of us back with the nomination of Bob Dole; it was reinforced with Dubya, and driven to our very core with McCain. Bush Sr., Dole, Dubya, and McCain: Where’s the substantive difference? The answer to that question may be the key to what has happened to conservatism. Republicans falsely claim the conservative mantle and then go on to exhort self-inflicted wounds both in campaigning and governing. In its simplest form, Republicans need to stop masquerading around as conservatives.
Some conservative Democrats are more serious about fiscal conservatism than some Republicans in Washington, DC. Future GOP electoral success will require investment in recruiting the right candidate as state and local party committees are strengthening. New technologies will have to be adopted and implemented. Strategic and tactical adjustments will have to be made. And all this will have to be done before the all-important 2010 mid-term election.
True conservative values and principles are a threat to the Rockefeller liberal wing of the Republican Party, of which, the likes of Noonan, Parker, Powell, Graham, Romney, Snowe, Collins, Giuliani, McCain and even Huckabee reside. They are not the Reagan coalition. They are not true conservatives. They are part of the problem. Political operatives in Washington too are using their power to make sure the states don’t elect true conservatives by supporting more moderate candidates. They are group within the party that believe that the Republican Party has to move closer to the left and abandon its core governing principles.
The national “Washington elite leadership” that continue to put forth candidates that do NOT resonate with the pulse of grassroots voters, or raise that pulse, is harming the Party. Rewarding loyalty is not a winning formula. Mark Kirk of Illinois, Charlie Crist of Florida, and the endorsement of Alan Spector over Toomey in Pennsylvania by Dubya in 2004 are just a few examples. Grassroots voters in the states are concerned about principles, ideas, and are dissatisfied with the status quo whereas the view from the Beltway power brokers tends to look at poll numbers, popularity and fundraising ability.
The Republican upper management attitude could be best illustrated by an unfortunate statement made by Gary Emineth, North Dakota Republican Party Chairman, in “The Hill” about responding to the public: “At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what the public thinks; it matters what 168 of us think.” The 168 he alludes to are the upper echelon members of the RNC. The NRSC too committed Hari Kari with their very early and misguided decision to endorse Gov. Charlie Crist for Senator in Florida over Marco Rubio.
A GOP upset by David Harmer could also be in the making in a California House special election on November 3. Normally a staunch Democratic seat, there is a growing chance it could swing to the GOP given the state’s latest budget collapse, the 13% approval rating of the state legislature and interestingly, poling in the area shows the favorability of the GOP is skyrocketing in that district. Nonetheless, the GOP would rather support a pro-gay marriage, pro-abortion, pro-union, ACORN supported Dede Scozzafava in New York’s 23rd Congressional District than spend any time or money on David Harmer’s race. Add to a low turn-out a large number of retired voters in the CA district that will turn out because they are PO’d with Obamacare and underestimated voter apathy and Mr. Harmer stands a reasonable chance.
Harmer is playing his cards pretty well where the NRCC is not. The NRCC should kick some cash into this CA race and be ashamed they are backing (NY 23) Dede Scozzafava, who is impersonating a Republican over conservative Doug Hoffman. The Elites are mistakenly pushing Scozzafava, and Crist, and many more non-conservatives. The change in our party must start with these so called GOP leaders. The same people endorsed our boy Arlen over Toomey in PA. Is there any wonder why they crap all over Sarah Palin? Conservative Hoffman has called on RINO Scazzafava to quit race.
And, Carl Forti, who headed the National Republican Congressional Committee’s (NRCC) independent expenditure efforts in 2006 stated only in September: “The job of the Party Committee is to help people with an ‘R’ next to their name; it doesn’t matter what their ideology is…that’s the mentality Cornyn has now.” Cornyn, is NRSC Party Chair Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), who Erick Erickson, of RedState.com said should resign. Erickson is urging supporters to stop donating money to the NRSC because of the committee’s support of moderate over conservative candidates. I agree.
Erickson goes on to say “the NRSC is actively promoting establishment Republicans the nation rejected in 2006 and 2008.” No doubt the NRSC is infuriating many state activists who don’t like the idea of the national party stepping in and playing favorites – especially when it means picking a moderate over a conservative. Beyond Florida, the NRSC has vigorously inserted itself into a number of races including New Hampshire, Colorado Kentucky and California, among others. To make matters worse, speculation swirls that the NRSC is quietly freezing resources and the flow of national money to the primary opponents. Beltway interference is tilting the playing field toward ‘moderates’ over conservative candidates as it is rumored that the NRSC is also blacklisting national donors.
Washington meddling is not new as it seems the big power broker Republicans have thrown away the Conservative platform for decades now. Tapped candidates run as conservatives and when elected they govern like Democrats. You don’t dump your values, you emphasize them; that is, if you have values. But the Beltway crowd appears bent on selecting candidates that favor an ideological diversity and not uncompromising adherence to core conservative values. That notion risks alienating conservatives further. The operative question is NOT just if Washington should be selecting conservative or more moderate candidates. The real question is exactly WHO should be selecting these candidates; (1) the people in the districts attempting to be represented or (2) some out-of-touch, stuffed-shirt, blowhard higher-up who thinks they can dictate from the towers of the DC Beltway.
To put into perspective, consider this: we had George H.W. Bush, who admitted he lacked the “vision thing”, Arnold Schwarzenegger, was supposed to be socially liberal and fiscally conservative, but he increased state spending 40% and enacted massive tax increases. Olympia Snowe and Arlen Specter were supposed to be models of social liberalism and fiscal prudence, but both eagerly signed on to Obama’s massive spending plans. And, because the Party failed in its responsibility to promote the best candidate that reflected its core principles, conservative zeal gave a freshman senator a watershed presidential election victory.
While our GOP elected officials on the right are supposedly preaching the cause of fiscal discipline, they are doing everything they can to make themselves as pork-loving as their Democrat counterparts. Of the top ten Senators requesting the highest amount of ‘dollar’ in solo earmarks six are Republicans. Of the top ten Senators requesting highest ‘number’ of solo earmarks five of them are Republicans. Sen. Shelby, Bond, Cochran tops the list along with McConnell. Collins, Snow and Specter vote the party line about half of the time.
Republicans used to stand for good government and less government interference – after Bush, those no longer apply. In his last term in office, Bush increased discretionary outlays by an estimated 48.6 percent. Bush spent 8 years pursuing a “new tone,” yet he moved the party to the center domestically, and the GOP’s policies, when in charge in Congress, could best be described as “big government Republicanism.” They spent money at a fantastic clip, handed out goodies like the Medicare Prescription Drug Program, pushed pork spending, ignored the base to promote amnesty and the bailout, and then GOP leaders ran a ‘moderate’ presidential candidate in 2008.
With Bush controlling both chambers of Congress for six of his eight years, the Republican Congress spent money like drunken sailors. In the first five years of the Bush regime, federal spending increased 45%. Under Bush I, federal spending increased 23% in four years. Fast forward to the 2009 Congress and we learn that 40% of the earmarks in the $410 Omnibus Appropriations Bill (covers funding for fiscal year 2009) are Republican earmarks. Yes, despite the rhetoric, the Omnibus bill not only increased spending but in total, included more than 8,500 earmarks at a time of economic crisis.
In Bush’s defense, many of the “conservative” initiatives that Bush wanted to do were hindered or blocked by the efforts of the RINO’s joining forces with the Democrats in Congress. (Note: Bush is an honorable man who kept our country safe from attack). The tax cuts were not permanent because McCain and his team of RINO’s joined forces with the Democrats. Oil drilling in Alaska and off the coasts was blocked by McCain and his RINO’s. Social Security reform efforts never got off the block because of the Democrats working with RINO’s. And, the Republican Congress failed to cut spending sufficiently to coincide with tax cuts.
To get a sense of how far small-government conservatism has fallen, take a look at former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s recent “Nine Real Acts of Change.” Gingrich and the original Contract with America had its share of gimmickry, but anti-statist rhetoric nevertheless played a large role in the 1994 Republican campaign. The first two to three years of the Gingrich Congress represent the last time the GOP made a serious attempt to cut federal spending.
Even the moratorium on earmarks doesn’t really count, because earmarking merely affects the disbursement of federal funds, not the level of spending. Getting rid of every earmark in a bloated appropriations bill would not directly cut any spending—it would simply empower bureaucrats to hand out the cash rather than congressmen. Republican efforts to build a governing majority through spending and earmarks ended in disgrace.
D.C. Insiders have a long habit of putting their personal gain or grievances ahead of any overriding long-term benefits. The Republicans nominated McCain once, they can do it again. While one cannot help but admire McCain’s courage and love of country, McCain was still a ghastly candidate. Over the years, he has become more and more agreeable to compromising on the ideals that he once so eloquently defended. Amnesty, Global warming, etc. His vision has had its chance and he failed. Yet, we learn that McCain is working behind-the-scenes to reshape the Republican Party in his own center-right image (Say what?). After losing his pathetic bid for the White House, McCain now plans to fix the Republican Party. Clearly, McCain is in no position to tell anybody what to fix or how to win elections.
Outside-the-Beltway grass-roots conservatives can teach the GOP ‘elite’ establishment a thing or two. I only hope that they start listening. While many voters remain sour on the GOP brand, America remains a center-right country in which most voters are leery of too much federal involvement in our economy. And even still, a strong majority of Americans believe in individualism, a strong national defense, fiscal responsibility, and low taxes. A conservative candidate can bring in moderates and independents but a moderate candidate cannot bring in true conservatives. McCain found this out. The media helped elect John McCain and the media will attempt to push Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee in 2012. Neither Romney nor Huckabee are conservatives either. All you have to do is an honest analysis and some basic research of their governing history (and not their campaigning words) to discover the truth.
Political Darwinism is suppose to be a bottoms up approach to politics that weeds out the weaker candidates through the primary process. The NRSC is usurping the process by picking winners based on their own criteria. Any organization whose leadership isolates itself from its customers can die. Such is the case with our elected officials and Party leadership. The name of the person whose patience is exhausted by betrayals of the Republican Party is “legion, for we are many.” The people, who held their noses and voted for McCain last time, hoping against hope that Obama could be defeated, now have one more confirmation of the fact that Republicans can’t please AP journalism – and those who try to, don’t please anybody. People tend to not bother going to the polls to swim against that kind of tide.
In a two-party system, the parties are naturally forced by the electoral process to sharpen and artificially amplify there differences. Just like the Coke / Pepsi wars, the brand that stands in the sharpest contrast will be most successful – as long as this contrast attracts the largest amount of sympathetic voters. Big-government conservatism has manifestly failed not only as governing policy but also as politics. The strongest argument for it is that programs like the Medicare prescription-drug benefit and No Child Left Behind.
There’s a clear cause and effect here that is a neat and predictable as a law of physics: As government expands, liberty contracts. It is paradoxical to believe otherwise. The NRSC’s exercises in field clearing – or shaping – reflect a narrow Washington outlook and too often come at the expense of conservative candidates. The Beltway establishment, long ago, has lost its way. Its Leadership, it seems, has only one real agenda: maintaining power. It is the GOP Brass that needs a spine. This is a result of years of contempt for the grassroots; years of negotiating, false promises, pseudo-conservatism in campaigning and governing; an open primary system put in place by the Party, and state parties volleying too quickly in choosing a nominee, all of which, benefits a Washington insider.
The theory of lesser of two evils – is still evil. Until the GOP finds the will to reign-in the RINO’s they are going to continue to wander in the wilderness. The general feeling among conservatives is that people within the “Beltway” do not feel the pulse of the people. Richard Wirthlin, Ronald Reagan’s pollster and strategist basically concluded that “The way politicians frame an issue for voters is as important as the substance of the position they take.” So do conservative ideals really win elections, or is it more that the person running has been able to link the conservative ideals on a personal level with the voters?
The GOP needs to return to its conservative roots of Ronald Reagan. Some argue we need to be a “big tent”. However, by its definition that means that conservative principles must be compromised. Instead, we must explain what we believe, and why we believe it and stop being ashamed that we believe in conservative principles. The GOP needs to make a clear, concise and unambiguous statement on what it stands for, and just as importantly, what it stands against. Then invite those who agree with the vision.
It is important to note that Reagan did NOT speak to the core of conservatives. Reagan spoke his conservative principles to the CORE OF AMERICA as a whole. Reagan got Democrats and independents to vote for him not because he changed his message to accommodate them; he made them realize how much in common they had with him. Reagan emboldened, motivated, led, and inspired a generation of conservative leaders. Truth be told, Reagan laid a lot of groundwork that Bush did not capitalize on.
The problem with Beltway “conservatives” is that they believe everything the MSM reports – bias and all, so they start ignoring what the people back home are saying. It seems the air in Washington is the opposite of what America was built on. In a Republic, the elected officials are required to act in the best interest of their constituents. While the death of conservatism is a touching illusion of the left, the GOP of the last decade has been fully complicit in the Party moving more and more to the left to accommodate ‘moderates.’ The Beltway mentality of the product of “electability” overriding principle and the betrayal of conservatism spurs the “institutional inertia” that permeates the power broker base in DC. It. Is. Mind. Boggling.
It must be discovered who these RINO’s are and get rid of them (preferably in the primaries); and then develop standards as a Party to not let such people co-opt our “brand”. If a politician isn’t really a Republican, there should be a mechanism to deny party sponsorship, giving such people “the boot”. The same should be said of those who do not follow the Constitution. Conservatism lives ever aware of the dangers the people take when they place great power in the hands of few.
Both major parties need a major house cleaning but a Republican and conservative comeback is in the making. If not, by default of the people. The best friend the GOP has right now is Barack Obama and the Democratic Congress. Most off-year elections see the party in the White House losing seats in Congress. The Republicans need a 40-41 seat gain to recapture the House. Going forward, the party can take solace knowing that over three-quarters of voters place themselves on the center-right of our political spectrum and the image problem now lies with the Democrats. The present trajectory favors the possibility that 2010 could well be the 1994 GOP Revolution, Part II. The GOP’s worst enemy in 2012 may just be itself.
Because the stake are so high, one must distinguish between actions and beliefs in the political sphere. We need to consider who we give money to. Any individual who desires to send donations to the party should seriously consider sending donations to their candidates of choice and NOT to the national parties such as the RNC or NRSC, especially after the NRSC has endorsed moderate over conservative candidates: Gov. Crist for Mel Martinez’s seat over Marco Rubio as just one example. This boycotting of funds to the national Party may be more a symbolic gesture than anything else but let’s agree in spirit, if the Party screws up at the national level in 2010, better to go down articulating a clear philosophy. In the end, the GOP Leadership and Party Hierarchy must recognize that there is a difference between cheerleaders and dancers; one can build human pyramids and the other just can’t.
Dear GOP: It’s the Product stupid.