The Republican Party is at war with itself.
Major conservative media outlets and figures such as Steve Bannon and Mark Levin are calling for Mitch McConnell’s removal as Senate majority leader. In Republican primaries, candidates aggressively run against the party’s leadership.
Some may say this all began with the rise of Donald Trump, who conquered the Republican Party leadership and eventually became president of the United States. But political insiders and grassroots activists know this story began well before Trump became a candidate. And now, a new book reveals how the war between the grassroots and the establishment kicked off during the 2014 U.S. Senate race in Mississippi.
Sen. Thad Cochran managed to defeat conservative challenger Chris McDaniel in a runoff election after a primary contest. The runoff drew accusations of fraud, with Cochran being accused of convincing thousands of black Democrats to vote for him and making offensive claims that McDaniel would punish blacks. There were also serious accusations the Cochran campaign violated election law.
The tactics used by the establishment to defend Cochran infuriated conservative activists around the country. Walters argues the anger resulting from the race explains much of what the Republican Party is going through right now.
“The populist takeover of the GOP which culminated in President Trump’s victory really began in 2014,” he told WND. “Mississippi 2014 was the turning point in which conservatives – movement conservatives, tea partiers, populists – retaliated against the ruling establishment. We’ve seen conservatives rise up before – 1994, 2010 – but those uprisings were directed against Democrats and always followed by disappointment. The great promises made to win elections by the Republican leadership were met with the usual litany of failure. The 2016 insurgency was directed against the Republican establishment, and it came about because of what was done to Chris McDaniel in 2014 in Mississippi.”
Because conservatives were furious at the leadership of their own party for allegedly stealing an election, Walters argues the seeds for President Trump’s victory over the GOP establishment had already been sown. The anger among conservatives didn’t fade. And the Republican leadership never anticipated what it had unleashed.
The populist rebellion didn’t begin with Donald Trump. It began in Mississippi. The true story of how the GOP establishment waged war against its own base to prevent the victory of a conservative candidate. The political blockbuster of the year – don’t miss “Remember Mississippi,” by Ryan S. Walters, available now!
“After the runoff on June 24, 2014, when the news spread around the country about what took place, anger boiled up,” Walters said. “You could see it in news report after news report. But the big question was, would the tempers subside as they usually did? We’ve seen anger before, but it usually died down after some time. But as the presidential campaign got underway in the summer and fall of 2015, it was apparent that something was happening in the Republican Party.”
Walters argued pundits didn’t take into account how the Mississippi Senate race specifically had encouraged thousands of Republicans to oppose any GOP candidate seen as “establishment.” The ultimate victims were the Republican presidential candidates who were initially expected to cruise to the nomination.
“Although many pundits put their money on establishment candidates like Jeb Bush, John Kasich, and perhaps Chris Christie, it was the anti-establishment candidates – Ted Cruz, Donald Trump, Rand Paul and Ben Carson – that vaulted to the top of the heap,” Walters said. “Those four presidential contenders were gaining two-thirds of all GOP support, while establishment candidates were in the single digits. Fox News ran a poll around the same time that showed more than 60 percent of Republicans did not trust their party.
“And this was happening specifically because of what happened in Mississippi. Chris McDaniel was getting messages and emails from around the country from people telling him that they were supporting Trump or Cruz because of what the establishment had done to him in 2014. Erick Erickson, then of Red State, was hearing the same thing and wrote an article about it, entitled ‘The Chris McDaniel Legacy Haunts the Republican Party.’ This was no fluke. It was real.
“Establishment candidates had no chance. Lindsey Graham (aka John McCain Jr.) never made it to the big stage, Jeb Bush raised over $100 million and gained three delegates, and Chris Christie crashed and burned as well.”
Walters also points out how figures on the establishment side of the Mississippi Senate primary were punished by conservatives around the country.
“Consider Scott Walker and Rick Perry, both of whom were initially thought of as serious contenders, especially Walker,” said Walters. “But after Walker hired Brad Dayspring of the NRSC (who helped trash Chris McDaniel), his campaign imploded. Perry hired the Barbours of Mississippi, who were right in the thick of it, and his campaign blew up on the launch pad. That is definitive proof that much of the anger was because of Mississippi 2014.”
Walters said he was “disgusted” and “angry” because of what the Republican leadership did to McDaniel in 2014, and he knows he was not alone.
“This was the most despicable, disgusting campaign I’ve ever seen, and I’m a historian of American political history!” he said. “Republicans expect such trash to come from Democrats and their affiliated groups, like the nasty ad the Latino Victory Fund recently ran against Ed Gillespie in Virginia. But you don’t expect your own party to do it to you! This was a betrayal by the Republican Party of one of their own. Chris McDaniel was seen by everyone in Mississippi as the top rising star in the party – that is, until he broke ranks and challenged one of their sacred cows – Thad Cochran.
“And by trashing him, by smearing him with the worst garbage imaginable – and you can’t get any worse than accusations of racism – the establishment was impugning all conservatives. That’s what caused such anger to spread across the conservative world.”
What made it worse, says Walters, is that there was no resolution for all the conservatives who had placed their hopes in McDaniel.
“Not a single investigative journalist from a major news organization or a single prosecutor ever looked into any of it,” he said. “With widespread allegations of vote fraud and vote buying, and yet not one prosecutor wants to investigate it? Not one journalist is interested in what really happened? The state’s attorney general, Jim Hood, did not lift a finger to look into Cochran’s campaign tactics, but of course he’s a Democrat, so we didn’t expect him to actually do his job. Perhaps he was afraid of what he might find. We are talking about tens of thousands of dollars in cash that supposedly went to ‘volunteers.’ It’s a big example of the rottenness of our politics.”
This all-but-unknown story, detailed in “Remember Mississippi” for the first time, continues to resonate in American politics. Not just because of the election of Donald Trump, but because of the internal battles that continue to rage within the GOP.
“We got at least some measure of satisfaction with the presidential outcome,” said Walters, looking back on recent events. “The establishment may have won the ‘battle of Mississippi,’ but ultimately they lost the war. And looking at what’s happening today, they lost control of the party, too.”
The populist rebellion didn’t begin with Donald Trump. It began in Mississippi. The true story of how the GOP Establishment waged war against its own base to prevent the victory of a conservative candidate. The political blockbuster of the year – don’t miss “Remember Mississippi” by Ryan S. Walters, available now!