It shouldn’t be possible that we have people who invested in the neighborhood of one billion dollars for a return on their investment that amounts to exactly nothing. These were the so-called “wizards of smart,” who knew how to guide Mitt Romney and the slate of down-ballot candidates to victory. They’re the number-crunchers, the poll-takers, the marketeers and strategists who represent the consultancy who ran the electoral efforts of the GOP and associated groups. All of it was allegedly aimed at getting Mitt Romney into the White House, and spend like mad though they did, the failures were massive by any measure. What makes the whole thing more preposterous still is that five days after the electoral failure they helped to build, they’ve all figured out what the problem is, and they’re unanimous: It wasn’t them, their strategies, their marketing, or their polling models, but instead a single problem that none of them anticipated: You.
It was the fault of the Tea Party, says Rove. It was the fault of social conservatives says Erickson. It was the fault of conservatives’ insistence on closing the border down and dealing with the illegal immigration problem before we commence any sort of immigration reform. It was the fault of xenophobic conservatives who just don’t want to reach out to Hispanics, they said. It couldn’t have been their messages, their advertising, their notions of the electorate, or even their candidates. It was you. Now that we’ve moved from a President who has spent four years blaming George Bush for his own failures, we will now spend the next two years at least with the Republican establishment’s intelligentsia telling us how the problem had been we conservatives, of varying descriptions. It’s worse than preposterous. It’s maniacal.
We now know we have at least one Republican Congresswomen addressing the Spanish-speaking press, telling them that the problem with the Republican Party had been the Tea Party and Rush Limbaugh. Jeb Bush, says she, is a conservative. If Jeb Bush is a conservative, I’m Adam Smith. Actually, I’m a good deal closer to Adam Smith. The point is that the party is trying to repackage what it means to be a conservative, and along the way, there are several issues they’d like to dump:
- Traditional marriage
- Pro-Life Stance on Abortion
- Illegal Immigration
Since they’ve yielded over the years on nearly everything else, what this suggests is that they wish to dump all associations with conservatism. Sure, they’re still in favor of free markets and property rights in principle, but they can be flexible on those too. American sovereignty isn’t an issue for them either, since they don’t think it ought to exist. States’ rights and the 10th Amendment are fine insofar as it goes, and with this crowd, you can bet it won’t be far. No, there isn’t a principle in existence they won’t spit on or tweak if they believe they can somehow capture the middle but still scare you into showing up. The problem, their wizards of smart assure them is that they’re not liberal enough.
Most conservatives I know are livid over this election, in part because of what it will mean for the country, but also in part because so many of them warned against nominating a moderate Republican of the establishment wing. To know that Karl Rove’s view is essentially “you win some, you lose some – oh well, we’ll get ‘em next time,” is enough to make most conservatives begin to experience dry heaves.
Like so many of you, I had wondered what could possibly account for this crushing defeat, but while we tend to focus on the Obama vs. Romney campaign, I think we ought to spend some time looking at what happened in the down-ballot races. The more I look, the more I become convinced that this election presented an opportunity for a purge of conservatives, and the GOP establishment capitalized on that opportunity. I wonder how many members of the Tea Party Caucus in the House of Representatives never saw it coming. Remember, the roots of the Tea Party go back to 2006, when there was widespread dissatisfaction with Congressional support of Bush policies and spending priorities, and the sense of general uncertainty about the growth of the deficit.
The one discernible constant has been that conservatives are to blame. Idiots on the left blame conservatism for moderates’ bad policies, policies on which they would double or triple-down. Consider the whole sorry spectacle of Obama campaigning on the “unpatriotic” nature of the Bush deficits. He’s quadrupled them. Bush was widely criticized by conservatives for the prescription drug plan for Medicare, but he was widely criticized on the left also. The difference is that those on the left would have spent more, much more, and all to purchase votes. We conservatives get the blame for everything the moderates in the GOP establishment enact, but we generally oppose these things also.
In one sense, we deserve some of the blame since we helped elect these guys often knowing they were mush. The problem is that as the GOP establishment views it, this is a good opportunity to rid themselves of conservatives. They will use this opportunity to push conservatives to join them, and in desperation, some will. I think conservatives should think carefully about the notion of blaming one another. Evangelicals are not the problem. Tea Party and constitutional conservatives are not the problem. Social conservatives are not the problem. The problem is the GOP establishment, and it always has been. It’s when we let them set the agenda and the direction that Republicans lose or having won, blow the opportunity. If we’re ever going to save the country, I don’t think we have any choice but to walk away from the GOP. The Republican establishment will always displace blame and it will always land on us by association. It’s time for conservatives to get out of the box.