By Bill Wilson
Americans for Limited Government
At the risk of getting far too deep in the weeds, it was not just the Obama Administration and Congressional Democrats who were sent a warning Tuesday. The GOP honchos in Washington were sent a clear signal as well.
The lesson that the Democrats need to learn is far more difficult to address than that of the Republicans, it is the GOP who will have the more painful experience finding a remedy.
To start with, the Democrats fundamental problem is that the vast majority of the American people don’t like their ideas. Bigger government, more taxes, greater power handed to union thugs and greedy public employee groups simply does not have the support of the people. The voters know instinctively that these are prescriptions for disaster.
But denial runs deep. The great debate inside leftist circles today is whether to “double down” and push for every crazy, nation-killing measure on their check list; or, pull back and rethink. Betting is that the soft-Marxist zealots of Pelosi and Valerie Jarrett win out and a renewed push for the mutation of America will continue unabated. We will see how many moderate Blue Dogs join them in their act of mass suicide.
The Republicans’ problem is all internal. It can be fixed in plenty of time for the 2010 elections. But, while it is too soon to place odds on success or failure, one thing is certain; it will be a nasty, bloody, public fight.
For too long, a tiny minority inside the GOP, the so-called “moderates”, have insisted that only adopting their brand of me-tooism can lead to electoral success. But at no time does this handful of people say what they would do if they achieved there success. And that is the rub.
The loss on Tuesday of Conservative nominee Doug Hoffman in New York’s 23rd Congressional District demonstrates starkly the dilemma. Party insiders, led by super liberal former GOP Congressman Tom Reynolds and aided by the liberal Republican Main Street Partnership, manipulated the process to produce a nominee completely out of step with GOP voters. They called her “moderate,” but in truth DeDe Scozzafava is an extremist. She supported the Obama give-away stimulus. She advocated handing union bosses new powers. She was an advocate for tax increases. In short, she would have been considered “liberal” in the Democratic Party.
Conservative grassroots Republicans rebelled. They could not allow this woman to represent them when in fact she advocated everything they opposed. Thus, the Doug Hoffman campaign was born, out of a deep sense of betrayal.
With the backing of conservatives in New York and throughout the country who felt the same sense of betrayal, Hoffman surged. As the election approached, two fact became obvious: Scozzafava could not win because she had no base, and the only way to block the conservative was for Scozzafava to endorse the Democrat and move her small sliver of support to him. And that is exactly what happened.
Of course, the professional spinsters started immediately to mouth the liberal GOP line – Hoffman was too conservative, we need “moderates”, etc. But the truth of the matter is Hoffman was more than electable if the spoiled brats of the Republican Left had not shown their true colors and joined the other side.
There was plenty of warning. Former Congressman Tom Davis, Chairman of the Republican Main Street Partnership, said, “We can play checkmate forever and moderates (sic) can do next what conservatives did to Scozzafava.” Well, to be frank, Congressman Davis makes one incorrect assumption here. He assumes most conservatives think of themselves as “Republican.” Increasingly they do not.
Independent polling the week before the election made this point abundantly clear. While only 20% of America accepted the “Republican” label, more than 40% identified themselves as “conservative”.
So, where does the one-fifth of the country stand? They look at the candidate. And a candidate as radically fringe left-wing as DeDe Scozzafava is someone they will not support. It is not the conservatives who need to find a place inside the Republican Party. It is the Republican Party that needs to appeal to conservatives.
It can start with a little respect. Again, to quote Tom Davis from an October 31 Politico article, “’We need to capture this lightning in a bottle,’ he (Tom Davis) said of the conservative energy. ‘They’re now the energy base of the party. But you can’t let them run the show…’”
That says it all. It’s the same formula the GOP establishment has used for decades. Take conservative votes. Raise money on conservative issues. Depend on conservatives to do the hard, dirty work. But don’t let them run anything. Don’t give them a voice. And for God’s sake don’t let them actually get anything for all their contributions.
Every conservative knows the drill. When the GOP candidate is a “moderate,” we are told to pitch in and help because we need the candidate “to get a majority” – never mind what that majority will do once in power.
But when a conservative is in a position to win, the GOP liberals demand they change their positions, adopt stands that are an anathema to the base and generally hand over power before ever taking their seats.
Well, if New York 23 had any lesson for Republicans it is this: the shell game is over. Present candidates who represent core values who respectfully ask for support and explain their positions or lose the votes of millions.
And yes, there will be times and places where there are enough liberal Republicans to serve as a fifth column for the radical Left. But far more times than not, these people will simply not be a factor. There just aren’t enough of them.
So what lessons do the two wings of the “Government Party” learn from yesterday’s vote? The Democrat wing needs to learn the hard truth that their policies and thug-tactics are increasingly hated by the American people. Without substantial change in their proposals they risk a humiliating defeat across the nation.
For the Republican wing, the lesson is equally clear cut. Find core values that all elements of the GOP coalition can agree on – reduced taxes, greatly reduced spending, and absolute reductions in the powers of government – and demand all candidates adhere to those core values.
Treating the millions of Americans who took to the streets across America this year and in Upstate New York last week with respect would be a good start.
Bill Wilson is the President of Americans for Limited Government.
Reprinted by permission from Americans for Limited Government.