The Problems of the GOP

Ace talks about how Mitch McConnell is looking for just a few, good, bland Republicans. Ace of Spades generally have good insights into the political process, so if you like that kind of thing they are worth a read. If I had to pick which major internal factors are causing the GOP’s woes, I’d put them in this order.

The DC-based consulting firms and think tanks that the GOP has come to rely on are more concerned about milking the movement for their livelihoods than they are about actually winning hearts and minds (and thus elections). They are also completely out of touch with the mood of the American People.

Conservatives pay too much attention to money changers in the temple; people who tell the grassroots soothing things they want to hear rather than preaching reality and helping grassroots conservatives be more effective. I’m not one who thinks talk radio is necessarily good for the conservative movement. I’m noticing more conspiratorial nonsense turning up locally, and it can almost be guaranteed once you look it up, it’s being spread by a talk radio personality. I don’t mean Alex Jones and the dark corners of talk radio, I mean people like Glenn Beck. Helping people “connect the dots” as he sees them might make Beck a lot of money, but it’s not doing any favors for the conservative movement. When local politicos see a bunch of people showing up at meetings yammering about “Agenda 21” and other UN conspiracy BS, those local politicos get scared, and rightfully so. Because to anyone who isn’t wrapped up in the world of the money changers, it sounds nuts.

Our movement just recruits some awful political talent. Part of that problem is that the angry grassroots have more outrage than experience, and have no idea what qualities you need in someone who can, say, win and hold a senate seat. That someone holds similar views to you, or even popular views, does not translate into electability. Sam Rohrer was the popular conservative heart throb in Pennsylvania for a while, but he was always a lousy fundraiser, and couldn’t really seem to get a statewide campaign going. I don’t care what your beliefs are, if you can’t raise money you’re toast.

I am no fan of the GOP status quo. If I didn’t think it would put McConnell’s seat at risk, I’d be enthusiastic about a primary challenge. McConnell loves feeding at the pork barrel, and I’ve had about enough of that. But what I’ve seen, again and again, are these grassroots primary challenges that essentially surrender the seat to the Democrats because the grassroots candidate was completely unelectable. Having a candidate that believes a lot of the same things you do won’t do a lick of good if you can’t get them elected.

30 thoughts on “The Problems of the GOP”

  1. To me, the biggest the problem with the GOP is that they have no conviction, and no backbone. They’re pathetic, really. Say what you want about the Democrats, but they’re tenacious. How long have they been pushing single payer? They’ll get it eventually – because they don’t give up. Same with gun bans. They’ll keep pushing for more and more until the end of time. Their goals are multi-generational. The GOP doesn’t really have any goals. Limited government was supposed to be one, but they’re as bad as the Dems in growing government. Especially the last guy.

    And when the Dems come and say “We want to take all of your guns” or “We want to create single payer health care”, the GOP doesn’t say “No”, they start trying to figure out how to compromise with the Dems. “How about you just take SOME of our guns?” Or “What if we give you a federal gun registry for now, and you come back later for more?” And the healthcare thing – how many DECADES did the GOP have to allow insurance companies to compete across state lines? They’re as much a part of the problem as the Democrats.

    1. I’d agree a lack of vision from leadership is a problem, and the way to take care of that problem is to replace the leadership. But the Grassroots have a pretty abysmal track record of using the primary system in a positive manner, at least at the Senate level.

      1. You know, at this point I don’t even care how much power the GOP has. If weak-kneed GOP senators get primaried and Dems win, well, at least we got rid of those weak-kneed GOP senators. They’re really that bad IMHO. Every one of them ran on defeating Obamacare, and yet they’re happy to keep funding it. Same with the House for that matter. When Boehner’s not busy funding Obamacare, he’s trying to figure out how to give 11 million illegals the ability to vote for Democrats.

        If both parties are pushing the same thing, then I’m happy to see the one doing it while lying to me through their teeth defeated. I don’t like people who do me wrong, but I absolutely abhor people who do it while pretending we’re best buds. Good riddance to the lot of them, I say.

        1. And Mike’s attitude eventually will be why we lose all our rights.

          1. “Blaming the victim” – what’s the alternative, keep these people in office? Listen, if getting Boehner and McConnell and the rest of these Dem-Lites out means a Dem-Regular-Strength gets put in, then I don’t see how it’s the end of the world. As the saying goes:

            “If the Democrats in Washington voted to burn the city down, the Republicans would vote to phase it in over a two week period.”

            The GOP is actually pushing amnesty for illegals, and it was Pat Toomey(R) who tried to resurrect a national gun registry after it had all but died. See, he was showing he could reach across the aisle. Other Republicans joined him, btw.

            You know why these people keep doing stuff like this? Because they do it and keep their jobs. It’s called “enabling”, and it needs to stop. Maybe if these people realize that they might actually lose their jobs if they listen to the Chamber of Commerce instead of their constituents, they might rethink their votes. Yes, having a Democrat in might really suck. But you know what else really sucks? Having the a bunch of these Republicans doing the same damned thing.

            You don’t change peoples’ negative behavior by rewarding it. Read that last sentence a few more times until it sinks in.

            1. But the question is: can you do better than Pat Toomey in PA? I think you can do better than Mitch McConnell in Kentucky. I’m fine with primary challenges, but you have to be realistic. Christine O’Donnell was not electable in Delaware, even if one agrees Castle had to go down (which I do).

              I agree that the Republicans pushing Amnesty is a mistake, but understand the reason they are doing it is because they don’t think they can win with just the WASP vote. I don’t agree with their solution, but if the Democrats hold on to their current share of the Hispanic vote, Amnesty or no, the GOP won’t win another election for the foreseeable future. I tend to think they should all be given green cards, but never put on a path to citizenship. Essentially, that would let them stay in the country legally, but they wouldn’t be able to vote in federal elections. There has to be some consequence for breaking the law.

              1. Reagan fixed the illegal immigrant problem in the 1980s, and yet here we are yet again with 11 million more. And – get this – Reagan didn’t win the GOP the Hispanic vote. But this time, it’ll work. OR, it’ll just make a bigger mess to clean up next time when there are 20 million illegals – who learned exactly what America taught them about the consequences of being here illegally. That is, free stuff paid for by everyone else.

                Can PA do better than Pat Toomey? I sure hope so, because right out of the gate he worked with Chuck Schumer on implementing the liberal gun grabber wet dream of a national gun registry. First comes registration, then confiscation as we all know. It’s only a shame he’s not up for reelection anytime soon. But even if we can’t do better than Toomey, and get a Dem, that’s STILL better than Toomey on guns. The only reason Toomey’s gun registry bill went anywhere was because it was bi-partisin. Because it had Toomey, of course. Well, getting Toomey out of there would certainly prevent him from trying that nonsense again. If the Dems want to disarm us, then let the DEMS disarm us. We don’t need helpful Republicans reaching across the aisle to do it.

                And sure, Christine O’Donnell wasn’t electable in Delaware. But she still did us all a favor and kept Castle out of the seat. It would have been nice to go to a Republican – or, rather, a Conservative (albeit not SoCo thank you very much), but the seat went from D to D. Would it have been better to go from D to D.lite? We’d all be paying for our groceries with Trillion Dollar Coins.

    2. What’s funny to me is I heard the same kind of thing from Democrats when the Republicans were riding high.

      I think the Republicans do much better if the conversation is about economics instead of culture. The TEA in TEA Party supposedly stands for “Taxed Enough Already”. In a down economy, people keeping more of their money is an appealing message.

      1. Really? I wonder what major agenda items the GOP has been pushing for the last century, nonstop, and will continue to push until they get their way? They’ve [thankfully] given up on what were some of their core issues:
        – wanting to outlaw medical procedures for women
        – bible-thumping in public schools

        It seems now they’re the party of “Hey, at least we’re not the other guys.” Do they actually believe in anything? Granted, some like Cruz, Paul, and Lee clearly do – but the vast majority seem to be content with just being part of the game and not wanting anyone to rock the boat. “Wha? Defund Obamacare? That’s CRaZYtAlK!”

      1. Oops, that’s “yep” to your closing “They’re as much a part of the problem…”

  2. My dad was at a fair/event in Kentucky a couple months ago. The McConnell people were out in force projecting an air of invincibility. McConnell, Bevin, and a democrat spoke. McConnell went first and bombed. Bevin gets up and owns the crowd.

    My dad’s assessment was that Matt Bevin isn’t a Christine O’Donnell or other nut-job. He’s a winner. Bevin would be an upgrade from McConnell and would easily beat the Dem. BTW – my dad is a dem and active in politics.

    1. That’s good news. I would not shed a tear of McDonnell lost his seat, but I’d hate to lose that seat to a Democrat.

  3. Taking a look at the averages of the current polling trends, the GOP has a chance to sweep the senate big time and make massive ’94 style gains again. But as soon as I turn my back, Crybaby, House F***er, John Boehner, has hired a La Raza Unida hack as his “immigration adviser”. That means AMNESTY!! 50 million more communist democrats will soon be flooding the country. Votes on communist democrat immigration amnesty will be held before the end of January 2014. I apologize for the anger folks, but the country is already being “fundamentally transformed” into the Soviet Union. If amnesty goes through (which it will), I will never vote for a Republican again. You can’t play patty cake with the party of Stalin and Mao. YOU HAVE TO FIGHT!! But, its just “go along to get along” and “let’s find a way for the (communist) media to like us (sob,sob,sob)”. Gobble Gobble in the Senate and House fucker Boehner will have assassinated the libertarian movement in this country if Amnesty for those filthy, communist, Mexicans, Hondurans, and Guatemalans is granted. My Mother’s Father was a Tank Sergeant in Korea, and many of my ancestors fled Eastern Europe, Cuba, and The Dominican Republic so their children and Grand-children didn’t have to live under the iron fist of communism. But, their sacrifices were in vein, considering I can look forward to living in the new Soviet Union all because the puss-bag republicans wanted to “win the hispanic vote”. When will people in this country just become, AMERICAN?

  4. “the biggest the problem with the GOP is that they have no conviction, and no backbone.”

    I’m not posting this as a reply to originator of the comment, because it is such a common sentiment — though I’m glad it was said.

    I think the problem is more that the Republicans have plenty of conviction, to stick to positions that huge segments of the population oppose. That can work for prevailing with issues tactically, at a state or local level, but it won’t work nationally. For example, closing down abortion clinics in Texas by hook or by crook is a local conservative victory, but it is advertized nationwide as “See what Republicans do?” as part of the “War on Women” meme, which like it or not has been demonstrated to have plenty of legs.

    The Republican problem is that they have to out-compete their opposition at making their agenda what popular opinion thinks it wants. There are only two ways to do that — win the battle of persuasion, to make the voting population want what they’re selling, or, change their positions. So far their efforts to reach whole segments of the population seem inept, in part because it comes through too loudly and clearly that they don’t really mean what they’re saying. Blacks, Hispanics, women, few are fooled.

    To some extent the Republican Party appears to be mired in the “stealth” tactics of the Religious Right on the 1980s, which could be summarized as “Keep your mouth shut about where you are really coming from, talk popular/populist issues until you get elected, and once you are elected you can do what you want to do.” That has been successful for over thirty years now, but seems finally to be running out of rope. As with my Texas example, congressmen who get elected on a “Taxed Enough Already” platform, and then display the most fervor and energy pursuing social conservative issues, get advertized by the Democrats nationwide — and deservedly so.

    And, almost all of them get elected with “gun rights” as part of their platforms, and then deliver almost nothing at all to do with our issue. Reminding them of that wouldn’t hurt.

    1. I agree that’s running out of rope. I’m not sure it ever really had the legs a lot of people thought it did. The GOP has not exactly fared well electorally pursuing that strategy. The GOP were great benefactors of the Democrats having a real talent vacuum, like the Republicans are experiencing now. Al Gore was the best the Democrats had, and barely lost. Bush didn’t exactly blow Kerry away in 2004 either, and the GOP had been weak electorally since the 1994 Republican Revolution, where they swept into office on a host of promises they would never live up to. I seem to remember the 90s were practically all culture warring.

      I don’t think the strategy ever worked. It only worked as long as the Democrats were fractured and leaderless.

    2. “There are only two ways to do that — win the battle of persuasion, to make the voting population want what they’re selling, or, change their positions.”

      Complete agreement. As long as conservatives choose to cede the media marketplace to the left, they are going to lose.

      1. “. . .cede the media marketplace. . .”

        I don’t see that they have exactly “ceded” it. Both camps have a relatively huge media. Of course you can argue that the “mainstream” media is liberal, but these days people increasingly seek out what they want to hear. I know many, many people who watch or listen to the “mainstream” media not at all, and most of them are not ideological fanatics of either camp. But, if you included the entertainment media which most of them pursue, you could make a good argument that that is entirely liberal.

  5. Sebastian,
    I agree with most of your points. My one disagreement is with “Our movement just recruits some awful political talent.” I think that sentiment is misplaced. A big reason that some of the upstart candidates lose is that the GOP elite money handlers don’t support the candidate financially. The candidate often loses a close race even though they get outspent by a large margin. If the elites had backed them they would have won. But the elites are afraid of them b/c they know that when these upstarts as a group gain enough numbers and support the tables will be turned and the elites will lose their power becoming former elites and unemployed. That day cannot come soon enough.

    1. More money might have saved Cuccinelli. No amount of money was going to save Todd Akin, Sharon Angle, or Christine O’Donnell. The reason the big donors don’t get behind those candidates is that no smart gambler wants to put his money on long odds.

  6. While I wouldn’t complain if the GOP wanted to switch their position on social issues, I don’t think they really have to. Chris Christie got elected in New Jersey saying he was Catholic and was pro-life. Few seem to have held that against him. I think where the GOP gets in trouble is that they’ll often open their mouths and stick their foot in it on the issue. I think a Republican can win as a pro-life candidate, but he needs to leave it at that. It’s when you get into specifics you really start losing people. Akin lost badly in a state that shouldn’t have a Dem senator. Mourdoch lost in Indiana where he shouldn’t have. Both lost not because they espoused pro-life positions, but because they espoused pro-life positions that were far more radical than those held by most voters.

    Now I do think they need to give up on the gay stuff. That’s a lost cause. But I think Republican can still get elected being pro-life if they aren’t stupid about it, and know how to message.

    1. Agreed. What you have is shoddy messaging. Candidates don’t shed their religion at the door, nor must they. We don’t have a litmus test. It’s idiotic to think that being someone else (especially an atheist someone else) is how you win.

      How you win is articulating, messaging, and, yes, fundraising. That’s how someone like Allyson Schwartz (who is an evil shrew who opened and funded an abortion clinic) gets to be a frontrunner during a time when just as many people are against more gun control as are pro-life.

      1. Opening and funding an abortion clinic is no different than opening and funding a dental clinic. Well, except one of those clinics helps the liberal population self-limit. It’s kinda funny how in the same way the GOP is bending over backwards to try giving illegals the opportunity to vote for Democrats, the social conservatives are trying prevent Democrats from limiting their population growth.

        Neither strategy is particularly genius.

        1. If you think the decision about whether to support abortion or not should simply be a matter of cynical political gain, it shows that you don’t understand the reasons why pro-lifers are pro-life.

          1. Is it because they want to help keep the next generation stocked with liberals who will eradicate their way of life? It’s just like Boehner trying to help illegals vote the GOP out of office. “Guys, let’s outlaw abortion so there’s more crime, more urban decay, and more urban voters who will liberalize abortion laws in a few decades!” The strategy is definitely lacking. Oh, and the outcome will be more abortions, and taxpayer-funded ones at that.

            1. Just curious… Does a belief rooted in eugenics define you first and format when deciphering political and social issues?

              1. No, I get all of my beliefs regarding social and political issues from my bronze-age mythology. You can keep your science and technology and reason and logic! I’ll stick to ancient parables written by savages as my guiding light, thank you very much.

  7. “I don’t care what your beliefs are, if you can’t raise money you’re toast.”

    But how do you raise money? By selling laws to the highest bidder.

  8. “I’m not sure it [stealth] ever really had the legs a lot of people thought it did.”

    The reason you think it didn’t is exactly because they were so good at it!

    I should make clear that I’m not talking just about “stealth” candidates for public office. The stealth was in their remaining invisible behind so many “conservative” front issues. For a refresher case-in-point, go the Wikipedia article on Larry Pratt, and look at how many front organizations he was involved in founding, besides GOA. And there was one GOA employee who went from working there, to working and eventually fronting for the National Right to Work Committee (another front organization), to working for the Ron Paul campaign. And, the same people do the behind-the-scenes nuts-and-bolt, administrative work for NAGR as for C4L, though the people who give the speeches and are identified as officers and principals are never the same, which would be too obvious. It is not going too far to say that you will find the same network of associated people behind practically every outfit that has a variation of “liberty” or “freedom” in its name, and that most people never detect that, illustrates exactly how effective “stealth” grew to become. It is not that “stealth” ceased to work — it still works famously in the “conservative” milieu — it’s that their issues are, for now, losing traction with a changing population.

  9. The problem the Republicans have is a primary process that is decided by folks that believe they just need to do the thing that didn’t work last time more and harder. They’ve got a lot of people on their side that are more interested in making a point than winning. Which, mirrors some of the problems we have in the 2nd Amendment arena.

    America is fundamentally a fairly conservative country. Though more in the vein of William Buckley than Glenn Beck. Conservative notions regarding government usually play well. Unfortunately the Republicans lost control of their party to the social conservative and talk radio bumpkins. Both of these are shrinking demographics. If the adults don’t reassert control, in 20 years the Republican part is going to be holding it’s national convention at the Elks lodge in Missoula.

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