Well, the higher-ups in the Republican Party are doing some soul-searching and trying to figure out why they lost the presidential election and lost seats in the Senate, even as they expanded retained their House majority. According to Scott Rasmussen, the GOP Establishment has figured out what the problem is—it’s their own voters.
“A primary problem” is the term that’s used, and it’s way the corporate Republican backers euphemistically describe their disdain for the grass-roots people who do their volunteer work and actually vote for their candidates.
I’m going to assume that the men and women who bankroll the GOP know considerably more about business than I do, but I have to wonder—in how many other enterprises do they declare that the customers who are interested in their product are the problem?
The corporate backers of the GOP don’t like it when primary voters choose candidates who are interested in defending innocent life or cutting back spending, to the point of being willing to confront conventional Washington thinking on its constant increase in the debt limit. Such a view is “extreme.” The corporate backers would prefer candidates who cozied up to Wall Street and left issues like the right to life and the nature of marriage alone.
To each their own—but to argue, as the Republican corporate hacks do, that grass-roots populist candidates in the GOP are the reason for the party’s defeat is to throw water in the face of reality. Last I checked, it wasn’t Rick Santorum who dismissed 47 percent of the electorate as being out of reach. That was done by the anointed “electable” candidate of the GOP Establishment.
In fact, we’ve had two straight races where the party Establishment has gotten what it’s wanted during the presidential primary process—a good, moderate ‘electable’ candidate. And then when the electable candidates doesn’t get elected, the reason is given is that it’s really the fault of primary voters who wanted someone else to begin with. Huh?
The regular readers here at Catholic Vote that have put up with my assorted ramblings over the last several months know that I part ways with the conservative movement on a number of high-profile issues. What I do have in common with grass-roots conservatives is a belief that the GOP party higher-ups are out of touch with reality on government spending and they are too quick to scapegoat faith-based voters for their losses.
While I’m not a “pure” conservative, I think the country would be better off if the GOP nominated more people like new Texas senator Ted Cruz, who outlined a much more attractive vision in a recent speech at the Texas Public Policy Foundation. Cruz is one who the GOP Establishment would not consider “electable”, although he just managed to…well, get elected.
In the aftermath of the 2004 presidential election, the Democrats were going through their own version of soul-searching. The conventional wisdom told them they had to get more “electable” candidates and not go further to the left. Their primary voters responded by dishing out an extra dose of extreme liberalism and nominating Barack Obama when the safe choice would have been Hillary Clinton in 2008. They got what they wanted. But the same game can be played on the other side.
Unless you think the country is irrevocably liberal—and I don’t think that’s the case any more than the thought it was irrevocably conservative eight years ago—then there’s no reason for the grass-roots voters in the GOP to ignore primary candidates they actually like, and get talked into others the vague grounds of “electability.” If pro-life conservatives are going to get blamed when their party loses anyway, shouldn’t they at least be able to go down with a candidate they like, as opposed to one they merely tolerate?
Dan Flaherty is the author of Fulcrum, an Irish Catholic novel set in postwar Boston with a traditional Democratic mayoral campaign at its heart, and he is the editor-in-chief of TheSportsNotebook.com