If things are going badly, we’re told the GOP should compromise on what it believes in to start winning elections again. If things are going well, we’re told we must turn a blind eye to the GOP abandoning its beliefs so as not to ruin the great year we’re going to have. The establishment Republicans who are always arguing in favor of trading off dearly held principles in return for magic beans always claim they’re doing it to win elections, but it’s hard to miss the fact that they don’t actually seem to be any better at winning elections than the grassroots conservatives they seem to write off as amateurs.
Setting that aside, winning elections isn’t an end unto itself. You win elections in order to implement your agenda, which win or lose, the GOP never seems to be all that interested in. If you disagree with that, point out all the great domestic victories we achieved when the GOP controlled all three branches of government during the Bush years. When Democrats pulled that same trick off, they attempted to fundamentally transform America while Republicans passed tax cuts and then moved on to big government wish list items like Medicare Part D, raising spending on the Arts and the now universally hated No Child Left Behind.
The sad fact of the matter is that while liberals have a very good idea of where their representatives stand on almost everything, there’s NOT A SINGLE ISSUE where conservatives can just trust Republicans to live up to their campaign promises. We have to raise holy hell just to get the Republicans to do what they promised when they were campaigning. If the Republicans could simply be counted on to do what they said they were going to do and showed a modicum of respect for the people who put them in office, there would be very little intraparty fighting. Instead, politicians in D.C. incessantly do things to aggravate their own supporters and then ask the people who put them in office to set aside their disappointment in the name of party loyalty. That seems a little backwards given that the politicians and the Party don’t elect the base; the base elects the Republican Party. The politicians who make promises to get elected are the ones who owe people, not the grassroots conservatives who put them in office and are now dismayed at their behavior.
If the Republican Party wants to end all these primary challenges, stop the intraparty fighting and get everyone to sing Kumbayah, it’s really not that hard to do. Do what you say you’re going to do, treat the opinions of your base with respect, and stop picking fights with the people who put you in power by saying things like….
1) “Read my lips: no new taxes.” — George H. W. Bush’s famous pledge not to raise taxes, which he broke.
2) “The Budget Control Act (Sequestration) represents a victory for those committed to controlling government spending and growing our economy. I applaud Speaker Boehner’s leadership in stopping tax increases on job creators, rejecting President Obama’s demands for a blank check to keep borrowing, and advancing real spending cuts and controls. The agreement – while far from perfect – underscores the extent to which the new House majority has successfully changed Washington’s culture of spending. No longer can Washington endlessly spend money it does not have.” — Paul Ryan, who just worked with Democrat to gut the sequester cuts he called a “victory” and “real spending cuts and controls.”
3) “I am strongly against amnesty. The most important thing we need to do is enforce our existing laws. We have existing immigration laws that are not being adequately enforced. Nothing will make it harder to enforce the existing laws, if you reward people who broke them. It demoralizes people who are going through the legal process, it’s a very clear signal of why go through the legal process, if you can accomplish the same thing if you go through the illegal process. And number two, it demoralizes the people enforcing the laws. I am not, and I will never support any effort to grant blanket legalization/amnesty to folks who have entered, stayed in this country illegally.” — Marco Rubio
4) “They were elected, nobody believes that there was a corrupt election, anything else,” McCain said. “But I also think that when, you know, it’s always the wacko birds on right and left that get the media megaphone.” Asked to clarify, McCain said he was referencing ”Rand Paul, Cruz, Amash, whoever.” — Former GOP Presidential nominee John McCain on the most popular conservative politicians with the conservative grassroots.
5) “Frankly, I just think (conservative groups have) lost all credibility.” — House Minority Leader, John Boehner on conservative groups who, unlike him, actually believe in all the things he campaigns on when he runs for election.
6) “And then, he says, the next president, whoever he is, ‘would have to call a truce on the so-called social issues. We’re going to just have to agree to get along for a little while,’ until the economic issues are resolved.” — Former Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels suggested we blow tens of millions of social conservatives who make up part of the core of the GOP base.
7) “I’ll just say this about the so-called porkbusters. I’m getting damn tired of hearing from them. They have been nothing but trouble ever since Katrina.” — Former Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott complains about the Porkbusters group that demanded he cut spending and kill earmarks.
8) “With his record of reform in Florida, I know that Governor Crist will bring a fresh perspective to Washington in our efforts to fight for lower taxes, less government, and new job creation for all Americans.” — Senator John Cornyn, the Senate’s Minority Whip, endorsing Charlie Crist, who ended up switching parties and speaking at the Democrat Convention.
9) “The problem with the Tea Party, I think it’s just unsustainable because they can never come up with a coherent vision for governing the country. It will die out.” — Lindsey Graham
10) “I’ve abandoned free-market principles to save the free-market system.” — George W. Bush explaining his support for the corporate bailouts in TARP.
Incidentally, the solution to all of this is not to leave the Republican Party. To the contrary, it’s to treat the Republican Party like a puppy that’s having difficulty with house training. When Republicans do the right thing, praise them, support them and do what you can to help them out. When they do the wrong thing, rub their noses in it. Attack Republicans who betray their principles relentlessly, primary them at every opportunity and take over the Republican Party so we can shove the politicians who won’t listen to us to the side.
While we will never be able to build an entire party full of men like Ted Cruz, Mike Lee and Rand Paul, we can make it miserable enough for bad actors that the go-along-to-get-along Republicans will conclude it’s better to work with us than face primaries and incessant attacks from their own side in the new media. Most people don’t realize it, but we have already started moving the Republican Party to the Right and the time will come when Republicans are just as afraid of their base as Democrats are of Planned Parenthood and the unions. It’s not going to happen overnight, but if we keep going after Republicans who sell us out, even the ones that are as hostile as John McCain, Peter King and Lindsey Graham will eventually have to get on board if they want to keep their jobs.