As we enter 2014, the Republican establishment is busy building a new model for electoral success, a model created by beltway consultants and baptized by the liberal media.
Right away, with those godparents, we know this child does not have a bright future. The basic problem is in the flawed principles behind the new model: Ignore your base group of supporters and pitch your message to the uncommitted, the unaffiliated and Democrats.
Tea-party conservatives are the first casualties of this redesign of the party of Lincoln, but any Republican who believes there should be a principled difference between the two parties should be alarmed.
What the GOP establishment has never understood – and are loathe to accept – is that the tea-party revolution of 2009-2010 was a revolt within the Republican Party, not an invasion from the outside. When the establishment turns its collective back of that revolt, it is implicitly acknowledging that they do not have the courage to wage a protracted battle against the growth of government.
The Republican establishment believes the only way to win elections is to accommodate to Big Government, not wage war against it. That is the essence of the matter, and it is the essence of the beltway class’ political stupidity. It is stupid because it is precisely the thinking that got the Republican Party into a mess to begin with.
This division between conservatives and so-called pragmatists goes back to the Eisenhower era of the 1950s and has been the dividing line in many battles for six decades. It was this debate that led to the creation of the New York Conservative Party in the 1960s, to the revolt in the California Republican Party in that same decade, and to the emergence of Ronald Reagan as the voice of that revolt in the 1966 race for governor of California.
It was also the dividing line between the Reagan Republicans the Ford Republicans in 1976. And when runner-up candidate Ronald Reagan addressed the delegates at the 1976 GOP convention, what was the near-universal sentiment among the assembled delegates? “We nominated the wrong man,” they whispered.
In each of these contests in the ’60s and ’70s, conservatives were maligned as “too extreme.” When Reagan ran again in 1980, the business establishment largely supported John Connolly, a former Democratic governor of Texas who had joined the Nixon Cabinet. Reagan was derided as “popular among conservatives, but he can’t win.”
No one has put much stock in the political genius of the business establishment ever since. Yet, somehow, in 2013, Republican leaders in Congress came to believe that the business establishment held the keys to the kingdom. Never mind that these are the same people who told us Mitt Romney was a brilliant campaigner and that illegal immigration is a good thing for the nation’s economy. Never mind that Wall Street supported Obamacare and just about every other boondoggle the Democrats have sponsored for the past decade.
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The leaders of the Republican establishment are so out of touch with the core values and principle of the Republican Party that they have forgotten that the road to victory has always led through Main Street, not Wall Street. They need to be reminded of that, and soon.
The tea-party revolt of 2009-2010 was a revolt against the “go-along to get-along” mentality of the Washington establishment – Republican as well as Democrat. It was a revolt against the politics of pandering, the politics of me-tooism and the politics of kick-the-problem-down-the-road.
That revolt is not over, and it will never be over because that brand of political opportunism and political myopia never wins elections. The liberal media love it and will praise it, but when the chips are down, the liberal media always come to the aid of their true friends, the Democratic Party.
What the tea-party patriots and other conservatives understand that the establishment does not is that our present course of public policy and government growth is absolutely untenable – untenable because it is unsustainable. America is on a course for fiscal catastrophe, and the “new normal” is not an acceptable platform for earning the votes of patriots.
Democrats and the political left understand that government spending has been set on autopilot, and they like it that way. Tea party conservatives see where this is taking us and are insisting on a change of course.
If the rhetoric of the tea party sometimes sounds radical, it’s because it is. It was radical in 1776 when the founders announced to the world “We hold these truths.” Those truths will always be radical in contrast to the conventional wisdom of pandering to interest groups demanding a right to feed at the public trough.
In 2014, the Republican establishment should be thanking the tea party for reminding us of our principles – that ideas do indeed have consequences and that we need to adhere to those ideas and those principles, not wage war on those principles.