The best thing about embracing your Hobbitry…
…Is that you can stop caring what the GOP establishment and its mouthpieces think about you.
And you can say things like this: if Chris Christie or Jeb Bush are ever put up for national office, I’ll actively campaign against them.
Or this: any “conservative” pundit or website that is talking about the need to appeal to Latinos (or any other ethnic or identity group) in a way that effectively surrenders first principles for a chance at taking power — deeming this move “realistic” or pragmatic, while sneering at the “purists” who simply Don’t Know How Things In DC Work — is not, in fact, conservative; is not, in fact, a constitutionalist; and is not, in fact, part of your “team.”
In truth, they despise you, because they see you as an impediment to regaining power and to reasserting the status quo on the right. They are embarrassed by you. And while the left likes to keep you around so they can point to you as fringe extremists, the establishment right will work actively to sabotage your influence and dictate to you the terms of your political choice.
These are mere political creatures who for one reason or another have chosen one team over the other (perhaps they like lower taxes; or more business-friendly regulations) from which to base themselves. And having done so, they fight for the party brand, because it is part and parcel of their political identity.
Well, they can keep their damned brand. Because as I noted yesterday, their brand couldn’t turn out enough voters to defeat a disastrous President running on myths and lies. So what good is it?
Don’t fret, though. Because now they’re getting serious. Doing a lot of navel gazing. How can we get the demographics to return ourselves to power? they keep asking. How do we bring over single women or Latinos? How do we prevent social conservatives from smearing us with their decidedly non-cosmopolitan worldviews, which are routinely used against them by an antagonistic press, and as a result, spread to the rest of the party? How can we make sure we run only thoroughly vetted and party-approved candidates, and that we don’t mess with our incumbents? Because it’s about numbers, not ideology. Winning is paramount. Everything else is secondary.
And they’re coming up with answers: we need to run a more moderate candidate with more broad-spectrum appeal! Someone who speaks to the hopes and fears of Latinos. Someone who understands that the world is made up of varying shades of gray and who will be willing to sell bi-partisan compromise in exchange for an opportunity to take power. Someone like, say, a Jeb Bush! Or maybe a Chris Christie! Or, short of that, we can find ourselves a minority candidate and pimp the shit out of him or her. Because that’ll show that we embrace all people, not just angry old white cranks like those who make up the odious TEA Party movement. And it’s all about optics nowadays. We may not like it, but that’s Just How Things Are — and we realists, unlike the hidebound purists who are holding us back (how dare they fail to turn out for Mitt! He won independents! It should have been a landslide!) — understand that we have to make certain sacrifices to compete in a game of vote haggling.
Of course, these are the wrong answers, based on faulty assumptions (for instance, while it’s true a number of TEA Party candidates for Senate lost, it’s also true that more liberal and moderate Republican candidates lost, a fact that is bracketed by the “serious and sober” Republican “realists”). And they are also the same answers they always come up with. Nominating moderate after moderate to appeal to the independent voter, they fail to energize the conservatives in their base — at least, those conservatives who don’t as we do spend so much time digging into the daily game of national politics. People want conviction. They want someone with vision. What they don’t want, evidently, is the hamfisted and obvious us too!-ism that has become the hallmark of the establishment GOP.
That is to say, they’re trying to forge a candidate to compete with Dems on Dems’ terms. And it shows. Painfully, often times. Embarrassingly.
But here’s the truth of demographics, and it has nothing to do with pandering to Latinos or single women in need of free rubbers or “the middle class”: fewer and fewer people are turning out for national Republican candidates because fewer and fewer people believe that the Republican Party at the national level cares a whit about individual liberty, smaller government, or constitutional first principles. They are dispirited. And they seem particularly averse to polished politicians or long-time Washington insiders.
More and more, people have left the Democrat Party. More people registered as Republican this cycle. Independents are even skewing right. So yes, I do believe this is still a center right country, and that arguments to the contrary are being floated to rationalize the need for pandering and compromise. The problem the GOP has, however, is that it’s losing its appeal to the right by trying to appeal to the largely mythical middle. And I say largely mythical not because they don’t exist, but rather because the way they’re conceived is in error. Rather than pander to them — as if that’s what they want, proof that you aren’t what the media would characterize as “extreme” — circumvent the media, belittle its predictable stable of smear tactics, and sell potential voters on principles. Fiercely and proudly advocated and defended. Otherwise, they stay at home or will vote the status quo.
I said many months ago that I believed the GOP would collapse as a national party if it wasn’t changed significantly from within. We still have one more election season to try to change it — and those of us who plan to resist tyranny in all its forms will work over these next two years to do so. Bemusedly, of course.
But that’s the end. An attempt to run a Jeb Bush/Marco Rubio ticket in 2016 will spell the end for the GOP. And that’s going to happen no matter how many pundits or realists explain to the mouthbreathing hordes and hairy-footed Hobbits how it’s the only “electable” ticket, or that we need to sacrifice certain principles in order to broaden our appeal.
Pro tip: if you want to pick up votes, appeal to those inclined to vote for you in the first place And appeal to them based on what they want. Because in the end, your job is going to be to represent the constituency. It’s not your job merely to win elections. That’s just a means to an end.
Insert something about trees and forests and the vision necessary to negotiate them here.
Oh. And outlaw.