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By Jonathon Moseley
Does the Republican Party need better candidates? Or do Republican candidates need a better party? Even now the GOP is choosing candidates for the 2014 election, especially for the U.S. Senate. Primary hopefuls are jostling for position. And the dominant questions are: “Will tea-party primary challengers cost the GOP elections?” and “Who can actually win against the Democrat?”
But as the GOP recruits and trains better candidates, will anyone train Republican insiders how to run better campaigns for GOP candidates? Do we have a worse, more urgent problem with the Republican establishment and consultant class than with the next crop of candidates?
Democrats defend their candidates aggressively. The same quality of candidate will get better support from the Democratic Party than a similar Republican candidate will get from the GOP.
It’s the Stockholm Syndrome. Republicans come to psychologically identify with the liberal bullies. When a Republican comes under attack, other Republicans hope to appease the media by denouncing their colleagues. It’s like the joke about two men running from a bear. The first says you can’t outrun that bear. The second answers I don’t have to outrun the bear, I only have to outrun you. Journalists attacking the other guy are ignoring me.
Consider Richard Mourdock who ran for U.S. Senate in 2012. Mourdock’s one gaffe would have gone unnoticed except for the scandal about Todd Akin. But Republican leaders jumped in the feeding frenzy, as always.
Can readers find fault with Richard Mourdock as a candidate beside that one gaffe? In 2010, Richard Mourdock won 62.5 percent of the vote statewide in re-election for Indiana treasurer. Mourdock’s 2010 vote grew from 52 percent in 2006. Richard Mourdock’s qualifications and credentials are impressive: commissioner of Vanderburgh County from 1995-2002. Extensive experience campaigning statewide for Congress and secretary of state.
Mourdock is no snake-handler. He holds a Master’s degree in Geology. He worked as secretary and investment manager for the Indiana Board for Depositories, as an executive of Koester Companies from 1984-2000, a senior geologist for the Standard Oil Company, 1979-1984, and a field geologist for the AMAX Coal Company, 1975-1979. He is smart, well-educated and experienced in the sciences, business and the real world.
Yet Republicans abandoned Richard Mourdock and threw away a U.S. Senate seat, because he said in a 2012 debate:
“I, too, certainly stand for life. I know there are some who disagree, and I respect their point of view. I believe that life begins at conception. The only exception that I have to have an abortion is in that case of the life of the mother. I struggled with it for a long time, but I came to realize life is a gift from God. And I think that even when life begins in that horrible situation [voice breaking] of rape that it is something that God intended to happen.”
Every human being – every person reading this – will eventually say something really badly. Democrats would have aggressively defended their nominee by “framing” his mangled words in the right context. Mourdock admitted his mistake in his apology. He acknowledged that others are free to disagree with him. He expressed personal conclusions after great moral struggle.
In American society, we routinely say that tragedy – in ways we cannot understand – is mysteriously the will of God. Accepting God’s will amidst tragedy is mainstream among Christians. A competent political party would have framed Mourdock’s words that way. Christian radio stations are still playing “Blessings in Disguise” by Laura Story from 2011, reminding us that tragedy, suffering and hardship may have a greater purpose in God’s mysterious plans.
Democratic Colorado state Rep. Joe Salazar claimed that women in danger of rape are too emotional to have a gun. Radio host Dana Loesch said: “Women, according to Rep. Salazar, are hysterical things which shoot indiscriminately at any and everything.” Salazar argued that women are too emotional to know if they are really in danger of being raped. Salazar apologized, but paid no price for his rape comments.
So did Democrats condemn a fellow Democrat? Never gonna happen.
The same Salazar repeated a call for anal rape of Republican Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. Salazar endorsed Sarah Silverman’s desire on Twitter for Walker to be anally probed repeatedly. Silverman’s style is to be offensive and disgusting. Salazar redistributed Silverman’s tweet.
Democrats periodically say outrageous things, but their party stands behind them. Barack Obama claimed that our U.S. Constitution is 2,000 years old. Obama argued on the Jay Leno Show that Savannah, Charleston and Jacksonville are ports in the Gulf of Mexico.
Can you imagine if Rick Santorum or Newt Gingrich said: “During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet.” Al Gore claimed that, so nobody cares.
Make no mistake: Better candidates are better. But how can we persuade a high-quality candidate to run if the party won’t defend him or her at the slightest mistake? High-quality candidates aren’t stupid. They can see how the GOP defends its candidates.
Jonathon Moseley is a Virginia business and criminal defense attorney. Moseley is also a co-host with the “Conservative Commandos” radio show, a member of the Northern Virginia Tea Party and executive director of American Border Control. He studied Physics at Hampshire College, earned a degree in Finance from the University of Florida and a law degree from George Mason University in Virginia. Moseley promoted Reagan’s anti-missile defense plans and foreign policy at High Frontier and the Center for Peace in Freedom. He worked five years at the U.S. Department of Education, including at the Center for Choice in Education.