One of the things I’ve already noticed is the start of the excuse-making on the part of the Republican establishment. They shoved Mitt Romney down our throats, but some of us have vomited him out of our mouths because we simply cannot tame the bile-raising nausea we feel in the pits of our stomachs. The immediate response of the GOP establishment has been to manufacture a narrative that will effectively blame conservatives if Romney loses. They won’t blame his lack of conservatism. They won’t blame his duplicity or his negative primary campaign. They won’t blame their own complicity in setting us up with a candidate we don’t want, but what they will do is blame we conservatives, and it’s starting already.
I don’t play that game. If they wanted to win this election, they could have supported a conservative candidate for a change, but they are very much a take-it-or-leave-it crowd. You see, if they don’t get their way, they take their ball and their donations and go home, all while they insist we conservatives are to blame if we respond similarly, leading to the defeat of their chosen candidate. The problem the establishment faces is that conservatives still remember Ronald Reagan, and they know too well that genuine conservatism wins. They can continue to scapegoat conservatism, but we shouldn’t accept their excuses any longer, and we shouldn’t fall into the trap that this year’s crop of post-defeat planners are already laying.
If I owned a hot-dog stand and after years of selling barely palatable wieners, I go to something even worse, my customers will likely find them disgusting, causing them to flee. Do I blame them for their lack of “loyalty?” I might even cry “but you’ll starve without my hot-dogs,” but will they? I might appeal to their sense of loyalty as customers of long-standing, but if they don’t like my product because it’s terrible, who is to blame? Them? Or me? In making the loyalty argument, I must purposely evade a concept my customers would be right to throw in my face: If I were loyal to them, I wouldn’t try to feed them bad product, and rather than worsening it, would concentrate on improving it.
They may even appeal to my patriotism: “How can you let Obama win?” As with the loyalty argument, I again turn it around: How can they offer us a candidate who they know many of us will not be able to support, if they care about the country? In a free market, such intransigence would soon lead me to go out of business, and the fact of the matter is that the same is true of the GOP establishment. Of course, they’ve tried to rig the market in their favor, but it’s really not possible in the longer run. They use their influence, given them by means of our votes, to solidify their hold on the “market” of political ideas, and it is our willingness to do so that enables them to continue.
The good news is that we can still make gains from this election cycle. We can still elect conservatives to all of the down-ballot seats, and as is now plain from polling data in Indiana, where Richard Mourdock is now leading Dick Lugar despite a multi-million dollar campaign against him, it’s evident that we conservatives can still turn the tables on the establishment. In Texas, we’re having a bit more of an uphill battle as the establishment guy, Lt. Governor David Dewhurst continues to run slightly ahead of Ted Cruz and a whole slate of lesser-known candidates, but with less than a month to go, it’s still close enough that it’s anybody’s race and we may well wind up with a run-off, in which case Cruz looks stronger.
The basic point is that irrespective of the Presidential race, we can still have a significant impact in 2012. If we can sweep away some of the liberal Republicans in the Senate, and replace a number of the Democrats who are up this year with conservatives, we can stymie President Obama and aggressively pursue him should he continue to use illegitimate executive powers to run an end-around on Congress even if Romney loses. If Romney wins, it will leave us with some means by which to exert control over him.
Of course, the establishment won’t go quietly. They will continue their game, and part of their play is to make you feel as though you must support their guy. Once you realize this, it’s easier to understand how it is that they can sell you a lower quality hot-dog, and you will be forced to swallow it, disgruntled though you may be. In the end, they know that while they are not really the sole source, or the sole choice, they are the sole choice you can bring yourselves to make. It’s true in both parties, but what this really means is that in most respects, our country is ruled by a political oligopoly that wishes to leave you with no other alternative. They can afford to wait you out in most cases, because even if you sit out an election or two in protest, you’ll eventually be ripened by some issue to come back to them for harvest. This is why they’re willing to lose elections in order to punish you. After all, it won’t hurt them much, but let’s examine who loses what, and under which circumstances the losses really occur.
If Mitt Romney loses in November, does the GOP establishment lose? I contend to you that they not only win, but they have set up the manner by which they will win big in 2016. By then, assuming the country endures(and I believe it will,) they will have managed to create some substantial sense of Obama-fatigue. Its early manifestations are already showing up in the polls, but you see, for the elites of the GOP establishment, none of it will make any difference to their immediate health, safety, or prospects for continuing profits. In short, they won’t be hurt because their money insulates them. Your farms may go down, your businesses may crash, your jobs may disappear, or you may find yourselves in other calamities, but none of that will bother them. In fact, it will tend to make you more compliant with their desires and demands in the future. If you’re starving, you’ll take my low-quality hot-dog any way I wish to serve it.
It’s for this reason that they don’t mind losing an election or two(or ten.) If it serves their long-run interests, it may even be preferable to victory. It also gives the Republican establishment an opportunity to defame conservatives[again.] This makes it easier for them to win in the future, because if they can succeed in painting conservatives as heartless, inflexible ideologues who would rather lose than compromise, it makes it all the easier to sell the American people a “compassionate conservative,” who does not actually exhibit the first substantially conservative trait once examined closely. It’s for this reason that I believe the Republican establishment will be happy to see Mitt Romney lose, because in 2016, you’ll be only too thrilled if they offer you Jeb Bush. At that point, you’ll vote for the most liberal Republican they throw at you if only you can get rid of the Democrats.
Viewed in this manner, the GOP establishment knows it has conservatives over a barrel, and that’s what they’ve been working to do throughout this election cycle, and in perpetuity. I realize that the choices they offer us are abysmal, because that’s the nature of their game. Where I will not budge is on this notion that conservatives will have been at fault if they do not support Mitt Romney in November. Viewed as any other business competing for customers or clients, the Republican Party has a responsibility to put forth an acceptable candidate. Failing that, it is they who are to blame, and it is they who are culpable in any defeat suffered.
Of course, that assumes they want to win(in 2012,) but given Mitt Romney’s record as Governor of Massachusetts, I’m not convinced that’s the case. They have intentionally put forward a man who is a veritable “poison pill” for many conservatives, and I don’t believe it’s accidental, or somehow the result of political happenstance. Besides, from the GOP establishment point of view, this allows them to kill off a whole flock with a single stone. Conservatives and Tea Partiers will take the blame, and they’ll be able to sell us on almost anybody in 2016 when they’ll have an easier time winning the Oval Office because it will soon be vacated anyway. That’s Win, Win, and WIN from their point of view.
Conservatives and Tea Party types should be prepared for the moment when the blame game begins in earnest. They’ve already begun to push this narrative, and that’s to be expected, but should Romney lose(and many are fairly certain he will,) you can bet that the morning of November 7th, the questions will commence on FoxNews and other establishment outlets: “What’s wrong with conservatives? Why are they so hard to please? What will we do about the Tea Party?” Bank on it. Even now, the recriminations are beginning, softly, gently now, but they will build to a crescendo by November the 7th. I actually had a telephone call from one conservative campaign fund call and urge me to contribute on the basis that Mitt Romney probably cannot win, so we need to shore up the Congressional side, and yet there are those conservatives who say I am a gloomy guy?
On the other hand, if Romney manages to win, this will be an even bigger victory for the GOP establishment: They will have been able to put up a liberal Republican, and out of sheer desperation, have conservatives support him. Game over! At that point, conservatives will have no means by which to restrain a Romney administration, because they will have been a paper tiger. This is the dilemma we conservatives face, which is why I still hold out hope, slim though it may be, for a brokered convention. There’s a reason Romney is having a closed-door meeting with Santorum, and you’d better believe it’s about trying to get more support. I don’t think conservatives can afford for either Obama or Romney to win, whether out of desperation to rid ourselves of Obama, or in order to avoid the inevitable scapegoating. In particular now, it seems the GOP establishment is going after Palin supporters. Ah well, yes, most of us are accustomed to that, as the same crowd tried to make a scapegoat of Sarah Palin in 2008.
The simple fact remains: I can’t see how Mitt Romney’s supporters or the GOP establishment will be able to carry off such scapegoating with any credibility. After all, how unpalatable must a candidate be to lose to an incumbent who has unemployment at around 8%, has record deficits, has added trillions of dollars to the national debt, has overseen the devaluing of the dollar, starved us of fuel and energy resources, hobbled our military, aided our enemies, abandoned our allies, and generally made a wreck of things?
Just how bad must a Republican be to lose in that kind of environment? How thoroughly must he have been disliked, not only in the general electorate, but in his own party in order to lose despite such conditions? How thoroughly has his campaign offended some sizable number of conservatives? Should he expect such voters to shut up and eat the week-old hot-dog he’s selling? Are you ready to paste your palate with that stale, low-grade bun that’s been in the steamer rack four times this week? The GOP knows what it’s doing. You still believe, innocently, that they want to win, but it’s becoming increasingly apparent to me that they do not, and I’m not willing to let them off the hook by playing the role of scapegoat, and I won’t eat sorry hot-dogs for a notion of loyalty that is clearly unidirectional.