By Jonathan Moseley
Our political establishment always eagerly supports reform as long as it is no more than theater meant to fool the voters, an entirely phony exercise. In the early 1990s, I held in my hand a small-run book, “Lip Service,” by Richard Viguerie, which highlighted the attempts of Republican leaders to fool conservatives.
Finally, after years of conservatives ignoring the obvious need, Steve Bannon, former Trump White House adviser and Breitbart editor, is launching a sustained war to eject Democrats pretending to be Republicans and elect actual, genuine Republicans to the U.S. Congress. Our country is lost without this. But many have started such efforts before and have always lacked the persistence, wisdom and determination to carry it through. Efforts like Bannon’s have always failed because conservatives excel at giving up too soon.
On Wednesday, leading conservatives like Ken Cuccinelli and Brent Bozell demanded that Mitch McConnell resign as Senate majority leader, along with his entire leadership team in Congress. (Trump should announce a nomination of McConnell as ambassador to Australia.)
But predictably, on cue, we hear howls and shrieks from the swamp. It has been the same deception for 50 to 60 years that nominating conservative candidates will result in Democrats winning the seats in the general election. Against all historical evidence, the establishment always argues that we must never nominate a real conservative because the Democrat will win the office.
Christine O’Donnell pops up in political commentary almost every day in my news alerts, citing the example of her 2010 run for the U.S. Senate from Delaware. Apologists for the swamp try to persuade us never to elect conservative candidates. But this is the same false narrative that dishonest members of the establishment have been peddling for 50 to 60 years. It is always the same lie. Just hand write the latest name into the blanks of the template and change a few details. Presto. The same false narrative gets recycled. But each conservative is always attacked individually one at a time.
OK, so let’s rumble. Let’s take the establishment propagandists out into the alley and get this straight once and for all. I was Christine O’Donnell’s campaign manager in 2008, when she won the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate against Joe Biden. After her now-famous 2010 campaign, I helped with her campaign’s post-mortem and various issues.
But this war started for me in 1994 with the Oliver North campaign in Virginia. I didn’t meet Christine until Jan. 31, 2003, the last night of CPAC that year. As much as I have witnessed Christine’s wisdom, abilities and amazing intelligence, and on and off have counted her as a friend when she’ll put up with me, this is mainly about the Republican spoiler Marshall Coleman and the establishment sabotage attacks on Col. North. Christine O’Donnell’s sabotage by the establishment in 2010 was merely a rerun of North ’94, like Rocky 17.
The reality is this: From the fall of 2002 through October 2010, voter registration of Democrats soared 31.12 percent in Delaware. In the same period, Republican voter registration grew by only 4.74 percent. By the November 2010 election, registered Democratic voters outnumbered Republican voters by 110,000, by 293,817 to 183,623.
Mike Castle hadn’t faced a serious challenger in years, re-elected against only ridiculously underfunded Democratic challengers (such as $22,000 and $26,000 for a U.S. House seat). But, worse, Castle could not have obtained the grassroots volunteers, donations or votes of the conservative base. Castle’s results would have been closer to Jan Ting’s 41.5 percent margin loss against Tom Carper in 2006. The grassroots activists in down-state Sussex County would have sat on their hands.
On Nov. 4, 2008, John McCain received 36.9 percent of Delaware’s votes for president while Christine O’Donnell received 35.3 percent of Delaware votes for U.S. Senate. The same Delaware voters voted on the same day on the same ballot with both Christine O’Donnell and John McCain, “mainstream” and “respected” liberal Republican, Senate veteran and war hero.
Christine in 2008 was vastly underfunded, lesser known and receiving no organizational support. Yet nationally known and well-funded, liberal John McCain did hardly better than social conservative Christine O’Donnell with Delaware’s voters.
Respected moderate Republican Judge Bill Lee got only 32 percent for governor on Nov. 4, 2008 – worse than Christine O’Donnell. Respected Republican insider Charlie Copeland (related to the Delaware DuPonts) got 38.7 percent for lieutenant governor.
Then two years later, on Nov. 2, 2010, Christine O’Donnell actually outperformed any other Republican running for senator in Delaware since Bill Roth. In 2010, Christine O’Donnell lost by 16.6 percent against Democrat Chris Coons. In 2000, William Roth lost by nearly 12 percent against Democrat Tom Carper.
Every Republican in every statewide race in Delaware gets about the same vote split that Christine O’Donnell did: Roughly 40 percent to 42 percent for the Republican to 56 percent to 58 percent for the Democrat. All Republican candidates in Delaware do about the same as Christine’s results.
In 2012, respected businessman Kevin Wade lost by a 37.4 percent margin to Tom Carper. In 2006, establishment hand-picked candidate Jan Ting lost by a 41.5 percent margin against Tom Carper. In 1996, respected “mainstream” Republican Raymond Clatworthy lost by a 21.9 percent margin to Joe Biden. In 2002, Raymond Clatworthy lost by 17.4 percent against Joe Biden. Finally, only in 2014, Kevin Wade did slightly better than Christine against Chris Coons – but not by much.
So why do the sirens of the swamp keep using Christine O’Donnell – who did better statewide for senator than any other Republican since Bill Roth – as a warning against nominating conservatives? Christine did no worse – actually better – than Republicans lauded by the GOP establishment as “their” kind of guys.
Quite simply, Mike Castle never had any hope of winning the U.S. Senate seat in Delaware in 2010 and would have done far worse than Christine. Delaware was simply not the Delaware of 1985. And Mike Castle was not the same person as he was in 1985. Mike Castle lost the nomination to Christine because Castle was lazy, arrogant, a bad campaigner and a “no show.” Tea-party leader Russ Murphy reports warning Karl Rove in December 2009 that Christine was winning because she was showing up, while Mike Castle was a no-show at Delaware’s political gatherings.
Today, the “Republican” establishment – liberal, power hungry and corrupt – is in crisis because the voters who elected Donald Trump as president actually meant it when they demanded the GOP majorities in Congress “drain the swamp” and bring a screeching halt to the status quo. Everything that has happened since Nov. 8, 2016, can be explained by the stunned confusion of Republican insiders thinking: “What? You really meant that?”
By now, if you’re not mad as hell, you’re not paying attention. If you are still believing the siren songs of the swamp, there is no hope.
Jonathon Moseley is a Virginia business and criminal defense attorney who worked for Judicial Watch right out of law school. He is a member of the Northern Virginia Tea Party, former executive director of American Border Control and former talk-show co-host. Moseley got his start in politics at High Frontier, promoting Ronald Reagan’s anti-missile defense plans.