Republican Base Forgets How Primaries Work

While combing through the post-election coverage, I found this little gem from Tony Lee of Breitbart News:

Jenny Beth Martin, National Coordinator of Tea Party Patriots, criticized the Republican Party for hand-picking a Beltway elite candidate who did not campaign forcefully on America’s founding principles and said the “presidential loss is unequivocally on them.”

“For those of us who believe that America, as founded, is the greatest country in the history of the world – a ‘Shining city upon a hill’ – we wanted someone who would fight for us,” Martin said. “We wanted a fighter like Ronald Reagan who boldly championed America’s founding principles, who inspired millions of independents and ‘Reagan Democrats’ to join us, and who fought his leftist opponents on the idea that America, as founded, was a ‘Shining city upon a hill.’

Instead, Martin lamented, “what we got was a weak moderate candidate, hand-picked by the Beltway elites and country-club establishment wing of the Republican Party.”

Er, what?

No, really, I want to know what’s going on here. Because it seems evident to me that Republican voters went to Republican primaries and voted for their candidate for the Republican nomination. The “Establishment” did not foist Romney upon them. Republican voters made their choices at primaries and caucuses across the nation this past spring.

So maybe the Establishment ran ads against Romney’s opponents. So maybe some party guys, when interviewed by journalists, expressed their disapproval of other candidates. Maybe there were donations. It doesn’t actually matter. As we’ve seen continuously over the past few years, money actually doesn’t influence elections all that much. Sure, it helps, but it doesn’t replace message, policies, or charisma.

This article was written immediately after the election, so I hope that Ms. Martin has calmed down a bit, but it strikes me as summing up much of the behavior and attitude that the grassroots has in the GOP. Many Republicans want to blame anyone they can for Romney’s failure: Romney, the Establishment, Latinos, Blacks, Karl Rove, Project Orca, Paul Ryan, the Ron Paul crowd, voter fraud, the New Black Panther Party…need I go on?

Look, you chose Romney. He wasn’t picked for you. There wasn’t some nefarious cabal of evil sky gods lurking behind a thundercloud that dropped him on you and say “Yes, he is our chosen one to spread darkness and chaos across the land!” Let’s not forget that he had a struggle to overcome Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich, two more conservative (if not fundamentally wacky) candidates. It was not a given, until about late March/early April, that Romney was going to be the candidate.

Unless conservatives, Republicans, and Tea Party types get their act together, and start looking at their own deficiencies rather than blaming boogeymen, they’re going to continue losing elections. They need to recognize that they can’t just preach to the choir anymore—they need to start crafting policies, messages, and most importantly ideas that all Americans can support. Until then, they’re going to be left in the dust. I think, overall, the Tea Party does know the right direction to go in, but we’ll see if they’re ready come the 2014 midterms.

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