By Jonathon Moseley – BarbWire guest contributor
The GOP needs to adopt one powerful reform: Stop taking “advice” from people who want Republicans to lose. Almost every problem, dynamic, and force within the Republican Party is currently driven (sometimes in obscure ways) by the naïve assumption that the “advice” freely offered by the GOP’s enemies is sound wisdom the GOP should depend upon.
Republican insiders fight any nominee or action which the GOP’s enemies criticize. Insiders think that their enemies’ “advice” shows which candidate will have broad appeal. So if liberal organizations, the liberal news media, or Democrats say a candidate is a bad choice or a policy is a bad idea, GOP elites eagerly join their enemies in the attack against their own candidates. They want a nominee or action that their enemies can support.
It never dawns on gullible insiders that the advice is intended to make the GOP fail or even spark conflict and civil war within the Republican ranks. Democrats benefit by keeping the war raging within the Republican Party. So do Democrats and journalists really want to heal the strife within the GOP?
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During the Republican Party civil war, the establishment’s main and really only argument is that establishment-backed candidates are more “electable” than conservative candidates and the policy agenda the establishment advances is more likely to win elections.
Unfortunately, establishment “electability” is a myth. Establishment-approved candidates have no better record in contested general elections than do conservatives. Most candidates backed by King RINO Karl Rove lost their elections in 2012. As Bloomberg reported: “10 of the 12 Senate candidates and four of the nine House candidates the Rove groups supported also lost their races. Some calculated that only 1% of Rove’s Super-PAC money went to candidates who won. (But we have to exclude incumbents who are usually rubber-stamped for re-election. We have to look only at seriously contested general elections. Most incumbents get re-elected automatically.)
So what does an “electable” candidate mean? Candidates approved of by the GOP’s enemies are counted as “electable.” Republican insiders want to choose candidates by listening to the “advice” offered by Democrats, liberal organizations, left-leaning journalists and liberal academics.
Mitt Romney was the ultimate example of the perfect candidate for Republican elites. Christine O’Donnell is the ultimate example of the candidates whom Republican insiders condemn with horror. Yet both got 40% of the vote in Delaware: Exactly the same percentage of the vote for both candidates!
Are GOP elites over-promising their special expertise to pick the best candidates? Insiders have the unique ability to choose candidates who get 40% of the vote while avoiding those other candidates who get 40% of the vote. Can you say “margin of error?” Can you say “no statistically significant difference?”
What really is the big difference, the big deal? The GOP establishment promoted a candidate who won 40% of the vote in Delaware for President in 2012 while condemning in shrieking horror a candidate who won 40% of the vote in Delaware for U.S. Senate in 2010.
Could it be that Karl Rove is really no better at picking candidates than Tea Party Express and Sarah Palin? Their actual results are exactly the same: 40% of the vote in a blue State, Delaware, for both candidates.
Even Karl Rove’s supposed brilliance in guiding George W. Bush’s Presidential campaigns in 2000 and 2004 was an embarrassing failure. Republican moderates turned “no pastels” conservative Ronald Reagan’s landslide victories into losses by George H. Bush against Bill Clinton and losses of the popular vote by George W.
The only reason the Florida recount fiasco happened was because Karl Rove’s campaign strategies were so bad. If Republican insiders knew how to win elections and if moderate candidates were the answer, “W” should not have been left fighting over a few hundred votes in Florida. Yet another reason that nobody should ever listen to Karl Rove again.
But GOP insiders claim that conservatives candidate are not “electable” because they have “baggage.” Yet Bill Clinton could fill a whole Samsonite warehouse with his baggage. Baggage never stopped Clinton, Bill, and it won’t slow down Clinton, Hillary, either. The reality is that GOP insiders are clueless about winning elections. They don’t know how to beat a Democrat with baggage and they don’t know how to defend a Republican with baggage.
And what exactly is “baggage” anyway? Baggage means that the Republican nominee is disapproved of by Democrats, liberal activists and/or the left-leaning news media. Any criticism of the Republican is “baggage.” All of the stupid things that Barack Obama and Joe Biden have said and done don’t count. Dozens of unusual issues in Obama’s background would have been called “baggage” if he were a Republican. George W. had the burden of proof that he actually attended and fulfilled his service in the Texas Air National Guard. Vast mysteries about Obama’s background and thin credentials were not a problem, apparently.
Yet the most striking quality of establishment-backed candidates is how bad they are. Establishment-backed candidates may have great resumes. They have paper credentials. But they are really bad candidates, in many ways, once you look at the actual candidate.
As Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) asked at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), do you remember Presidents Bob Dole, Gerald Ford, Mitt Romney, etc.? While the GOP establishment’s main claim to fame is picking the best candidates, the candidates they pick range from awful to mediocre in reality.
Take Ed Gillespie. Please. No, seriously, take him away.
Ed Gillespie is running in Virginia for U.S. Senate this November against Democrat incumbent U.S. Senator Mark Warner. The ultimate Republican establishment insider Gillespie is the former head of the Republican National Committee, but he has never held elected office.
Gillespie will be lucky to crack 40% of the vote in November. On paper, he is a Republican insiders’ dream. But in the real world, he is an empty suit. I mean this is the U.S. Senate. And this is Virginia, not Rhode Island. Sorry, Rhode Island. But what I mean is this: We in Virginia have lots of talented, experienced, and qualified choices available in our very big State. It can take almost 8 hours to drive across the longest line down towards Kentucky.
In a State this big, we couldn’t find a suitable State legislator or Congressman to run for U.S. Senate who has actually won an election before? I fervently tried to push African-American Kay Cole James, who at least has a stellar record in leading positions in the Federal Government and Virginia government. Gillespie has none of that.
So when Gillespie gets slaughtered in the 2014 election, will the establishment learn their lesson? Nope. The failure to learn from experience is the dominant factor of the Republican establishment. In fact, Republican insiders are the true ideologues. While conservatives draw their conclusions from the lessons of the real world, Republican insiders doggedly follow their own myths in defiance of reality and experience.
Then we have the next brainstorm of the GOP establishment: Let’s run Jeb Bush for President. Oh, sure. Jeb Bush makes George W. look conservative. Jeb Bush is one of the fathers of the Common Core education movement, which is the second biggest scandal among the grassroots behind Obama Care. Just what the American voters want – a third Bush President.
However, the establishment is not going quietly into that good night, however. They are making a lot of noise in their death throes. The establishment keeps repeating their central error, believing that spending money is the key to winning elections. The establishment cannot command ground troops, so all they have is the ability to run TV ads with money. But that doesn’t work. So although GOP insiders are making loud boasts and a lot of noise, they are losing the war overall for control of the Republican Party.
Still, the repeated failure of the insiders’ “electable’ candidates to deliver as promised is tilting the Republican civil war in conservatives’ favor. Since electability is the one and only argument for the establishment, and establishment candidates cannot deliver on their central promise, the establishment is losing the civil war.
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.