By Tim Dunkin
The assorted rabble of RINOs, insiders, and power-brokers who make up the self-styled GOP "elite" appear to be starting to panic. As it becomes less and less obvious that Mitt Romney is a sure thing to win the much-ballyhooed Michigan primary (which was once assumed to be a done deal for him), his handlers and other string-pullers within the Republican establishment seems to be looking for someone new, yet another establishment-style candidate who can be called upon to squash the incipient grassroots rebellion and retain the nomination firmly for a malleable, mushy-middle type with whom the country-club crowd can feel at ease, and for whom the conservative base of the Party will be stuck voting, against their wishes once again. Or so it would seem from this article appearing in Mediaite, citing an unnamed "top Republican Senator" saying that he will "publicly call for Jeb Bush" to step into the race and save the day for the RINOs should Romney flame out and lose Michigan to Rick Santorum's resurgent campaign.
How very typical of them. Instead of simply accepting the choice of the actual primary voters, who have consistently rejected Romney (who has only won an outright majority in a single race so far, Mormon-heavy Nevada), whoever this might end up being, the establishment insiders are already weighing plans to circumvent the will of the Republican rank-and-file and anoint another insider replacement who has not received a single vote from a Republican primary voter this season, and who is viewed as repugnant by large swathes of this same voter base. Of course, the GOP "elite" has consistently and desperately done all in its power to avoid having a real conservative possibly win the nomination this year.
It is well-known that after 2008, Romney's operatives played a large role in the demonization of Sarah Palin, working to defame and ridicule her to the point where she would be radioactive to the majority in a shallow, superficial electorate. The reason? Prevent her from being a serious rival for the nomination that Romney had been running for nonstop since 2006. In this, Romney's people had the open and willing collusion of so-called "conservative" establishment types, folks more concerned about keeping the inner circle closed than in actually appealing to the unwashed masses of conservative voters, both inside and outside the Republican Party. And this year, so it went with other conservative candidates, who each in turn found themselves the target of vicious attack ads from insider-funded PACs, personal smears, lies and inventions, and all the rest of the arsenal of dirty, personal destruction politics as they rose to the top of heap and polled better than the establishment good-boy Mitt Romney. Herman Cain, Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich – all received "the treatment." They've tried to give it to Rick Santorum, but have been unsuccessful so far in making it really stick.
Hence, the panic at what do about the possibility that these idiot voters might pick somebody else over Romney. "If they won't go along with Romney, then we'll just have to pick somebody else for them!" seems to be the mentality. This is perhaps exemplified best by a statement from the very first paragraph in the Mediaite article, quoting ABC's Jonathan Karl interview with the unnamed "top Republican Senator,"
"Karl reports that a 'prominent Republican senator' told him that the Party will not stand for a Mitt Romney loss in Michigan, and that he expects a result like that to lead the Senator to 'publicly call for the party to find a new candidate,' likely former Florida Governor Jeb Bush." [emphasis added]
And here I thought that the whole point to having primaries was for the voters – the rank and file of the actual Party – to pick their own choice to represent them on the ticket in November.
This unnamed Senator's statement simply illustrates exactly what is wrong with the modern Republican Party.
The "Party" apparently no longer consists of the actual registered members of the Republican Party. The "Party" is no longer the grassroots activists and rank-and-file constituents who do all the things that actually make party politics tick at the local level, things like donating money and time, making the phone calls, knocking on doors, coordinating at precinct and county-level meetings, and the like. The "Party" seemingly doesn't even consist of its actual primary voters anymore.
The "Party" is now a small, incestuous group of out-of-touch, country-clubber RINO insiders, power-brokers, politicos, and bagmen who have collectively spent more time inside the beltway than man has been on this earth.
The "Party" doesn't give a hoot about what the actual members – the people who provide it with its power base of support, volunteer workers, and the like – think about anything. If we toothless hillbillies look to be choosing the wrong candidate, then the super-smart, super-sophisticated establishment elite who know better than we do needs to step in and save us from ourselves.
Don Feder has an excellent article out today in which he details this exact attitude on the part of what he calls the "Wall Street conservatives" - the sort of "conservatives" who want to shuttle social conservatives off to a tiny little corner in the back of the bus where they can then feel free to shut up and enjoy the hum of the engine as the establishment drives it over the cliff.
Feder's article makes many excellent points, among them the most important is the simple fact that social conservatism (you know, the kind that the "elite" finds most repugnant) is the integral glue that holds conservatism together. At least it was so for Ronald Reagan, as he notes, despite the recent attempts at revisionism. It has always amazed me how unable to simply learn from history many of these "fiscal issues only" types really are. How soon they forget that back in 2008, while the rest of the Republican coalition was going down in flames all over the country, social conservatism was winning votes on issues ranging from banning homosexual "marriage" and adoption to limiting abortion to ending affirmative action, even in Blue states. Thirty states have voted to define marriage between one man and one woman; how many states have voted in balanced budget amendments?
Ultimately, the disconnect comes from the fact that, when you get right down to it, the "conservative" inside-the-beltway elite differs little from the leftists on social issues – and yes, I am talking about people like Ann Coulter, for instance. They're happy to mouth a few platitudes to us rubes and hayseeds when it comes time to rally up some votes for their RINO candidate or to sell a few books. However, they're just as supportive of special rights for homosexuals or forcing religious organizations to pay for abortiofacients as any Democrat. On these, therefore, they are at odds with the majority of people in the country, and the vast majority of people within their own Party. The establishment "elite" has set itself against its own base, knowingly and willfully, in an act that can only indicate an overt desire to force itself off onto the conservative majority within the GOP. If we don't like it, then we can lump it.
What is the solution to this? It is for conservatives to once again make our politics demotic – a word which simple means "of the people." It is time for conservatives to step up and either remove the "elite" from power, or else break their little Party and replace it with another one. If the establishment elite is so keen on holding onto its white-knuckled grip on power within the Republican Party, then perhaps its time to replace the Republican Party with a truly popular, broad-based Party that represents the views and desires of the rank-and-file of the working and middle classes and professionals and small business owners of this country who largely share both the fiscal and social values of the conservatives driving the activism of the Tea Parties and allied groups, both within and without the current GOP. Maybe it's time for conservatives to break the stranglehold and to give all those independents out there who have left the GOP because it became too squishy and "big tent" a Party they can vote for? Perhaps we should get serious about crafting a Party that can win back the Reagan Democrats who want someone to give working class voters a real choice, instead of the condescending, faux "representation" they get from Big Labor Democrats?
If the GOP "elite" won't accede to the wishes of the conservative majority within the Party, and are intent on using every dirty trick they can to destroy our candidates, then the GOP needs to become just another single-digit third party. Once conservatives can wrap their heads around the concept that we don't need to vote for any old trash shoveled our way, just because it has an "R" after its name, then we will start to realize that we can begin to exercise the influence that our numbers suggest we should. After all, polls continue to show that self-described conservatives make up the plurality in the United States. Conservatives certainly make up the large majority with the Republican Party. So why do we keep getting snookered by the left-leaning "elite" and handed candidates who are barely palatable to this plurality of voters? Why can't we break the stranglehold, as Reagan managed to do for eight years (and remember, back then, instead of having "Reagan Day" dinners, the GOP elite hated and tried to undermine him at every turn)? I firmly believe that if given a choice of a candidate who actually, truly represents authentic conservatism, a majority of voters would choose this candidate – even many of the self-described "moderates"out there. Why? Because they did for Reagan in 1980 and 1984, they did so when they thought they were going to get it from Bush I in 1988, they did when they voted for Gingrich and the Contract for America in 1994, and they did it just two years ago in 2010, when they handed Congress back to Tea Party candidates representing fiscal and social conservatism combined in movement conservatism.
In short, it's time for conservatives to give the GOP "elite" - the Romneys and Jeb Bushes and Ann Coulters and the rest – an ultimatum: Either get out of the way or get out of the game.