News broke over the weekend that Karl Rove was launching a new PAC aimed at helping establishment Republicans defeat conservatives in primary races. As I explained yesterday, this move is tantamount to declaring war on grassroots fiscal conservatives.
Based on the formation of this new PAC, the absurdly named “Conservative Victory Project,” Rove obviously wishes that Rand Paul, Mike Lee, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio hadn’t have won their primary battles, in which they were pitted against more establishment candidates.
Yesterday, Matt Kibbe, President and CEO of FreedomWorks, responded to Rove’s new PAC in a statement, noting that the “Empire is striking back.”
“Imagine a Republican Party without the leadership, energy and principled ideas coming from Senators like Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Pat Toomey and Mike Lee, because that is what you would get from a lack of real primary race competition now being proposed by Karl Rove,” said Kibbe. “The choice is simple: should voters choose who represents them in Washington, DC, or should political insiders make the decision behind closed doors?”
Echoing Ronald Reagan’s words of “rais[ing] bold colors, not pale pastels,” Kibbe noted that a watered down vision will not lead the Republican Party to electoral success. “We believe that good ideas, compelling candidates, and open competition are the only way to rehabilitate the GOP,” explained Kibbe, “and the diverse group of compelling young leaders our grassroots community has helped bring to Congress speaks for itself.”
That’s right, folks. Karl Rove, a former White House adviser who had a meltdown on Fox News on election night, and American Crossroads are creating a PAC dedicated to helping establishment candidates defeat conservatives in primary races:
The biggest donors in the Republican Party are financing a new group to recruit seasoned candidates and protect Senate incumbents from challenges by far-right conservatives and Tea Party enthusiasts who Republican leaders worry could complicate the party’s efforts to win control of the Senate.
The group, the Conservative Victory Project, is intended to counter other organizations that have helped defeat establishment Republican candidates over the last two election cycles. It is the most robust attempt yet by Republicans to impose a new sense of discipline on the party, particularly in primary races.
“There is a broad concern about having blown a significant number of races because the wrong candidates were selected,” said Steven J. Law, the president of American Crossroads, the “super PAC” creating the new project. “We don’t view ourselves as being in the incumbent protection business, but we want to pick the most conservative candidate who can win.”
So today is inauguaration day. For many in this country it is a grand and glorious day, but for many it is a stark reminder of the failures of the GOP establishment and the Romney campaign. If ever there was a presidential election that should have been won by the non-incumbent party, this was it. So what happened?
For starters, a weak candidate who ran a very weak campaign is usually a recipe for disaster. But more than that, I think the biggest failure was the refusal of the GOP establishment to to even tolerate, much less embrace, the liberty wing of the party. You can call this wing the “crazy Ron Paul people” or, as a lady in my county said, “these libertarians trying to take over our party.” This behavior was found at all levels - precinct, county, district, state, and national. A real shame considering that this was the one wing of the party that could have actually GOTV and created some excitement. But the GOP antics in Tampa made sure that wouldn’t happen.
What were they thinking? In such an electric and polarized environment, you’ve got to be inclusive as possible, not completely exclusive. It’s as if many GOPers had a death wish - making all of the wrong decisions at every, single turn. But…that’s all in the past - water under the bridge.
So where do we go from here? That depends on what you believe and what you think is truly helpful to the liberty movement. We all have our opinions on that. A method that I learned from my real estate days is the wall method. Throw it all against the wall and see what sticks, also known as the kitchen sink method.
For years it has been conventional wisdom that the GOP needs the votes of social conservatives to win elections. Defined loosely, a “social conservative” is someone who has very traditional, restrictionist views on so-called “social issues” like abortion and same-sex marriage. These voters are mostly white and evangelical Christians. They support strong restrictions on abortion and oppose any recognition of gay couples. In short, they are basically anti-libertarians. As such, the moderate wing of the party has always them as a necessary but disliked coalition partner.
In recent years, though, the tide has started to turn against this strategy. The portion of the electorate that votes strictly on social issues is shrinking. Attitudes are changing on gay rights and, while the country tends to lean pro-life, it’s fairly clear that most voters are repulsed by the extreme views held by some pro-life polticians. It’s clear, then, that the GOP can’t rely on anti-gay rhetoric and severe positions on abortion to win.
The call, then, naturally is coming from those who never even liked social conservatives to push this portion of the voting population to the wayside. Some, like my colleague Jeremy Kolassa, argue that the GOP should entirely ignore social conservatives. The thinking goes that moderating on abortion and gay rights will gather enough new votes to make it possible to live without hardline social cons.
After listening to ten days of hand wringing and doom saying from the usual suspects that Republicans must abandon our principles if we are to survive, we need a little of Mark Twain’s common sense. I suggest we all take it to heart.
He said, “We should be careful to get out of an experience only the wisdom that is in it — and stop there; lest we be like the cat that sits down on a hot stove-lid. She will never sit down on a hot stove-lid again — and that is well; but also she will never sit down on a cold one anymore.”
So it is in that spirit that I will begin with three incontrovertible truths about this election.
First, the same election that returned Barack Obama to the White House also returned the second largest House Republican majority since World War II - bigger than anything Newt Gingrich ever had.
Second, according to polls before, during and after this election, the American people agree with us fundamentally on issues involving the economy, Obamacare, government spending, bailouts - you name it.
Third, the American people are about to get a graduate level course in Obamanomics, and at the end of that course, they are going to be a lot sadder and a lot wiser.
That is not to say that there aren’t many lessons that we need to learn and to learn well from this election, particularly here in California. But capitulation is not one of them.
The 2012 election was a crushing blow to conservatives and Republicans across the board. Although they held onto the House, they still had losses there, and totally failed to take the Senate, and had a fairly disastrous presidential election. Yet there appears to be some hope on the horizon, because already the GOP soul-searching has begun, and already I am seeing some encouraging signs.
So I do have to ask: Did you idiots just wake up and crawl out from under a rock in Oklahoma, or what?
We’ve been saying here for months at United Liberty—and for me personally, elsewhere before then—that if the GOP didn’t tone down the social conservatism and stop with the anti-gay messages and the anti-science messages (Paul Broun, anyone?) and for once in their lives genuinely embrace limited government, they were going to lose a generation. It took a shellacking in the polls this year to shake Republicans out their idiotic stupor.
Look at this tweet:
We need economic solutions, but also need to confront the social rhetoric that has undermined our party. AFA/FRC, I’m looking at you.
— Luke Londo (@llondo) November 7, 2012
Rep. Steve LaTourette, a Republican from Ohio, had some strong language for his party on Thursday, saying that he wants Republicans “out of people’s bedrooms.”
How many of these post-mortem soundbites have you heard?
- Where was the Tea Party this time?
- All that campaigning from AFP and FreedomWorks wasn’t very effective.
- Romney lost because people want free stuff.
- Romney lost because people are uneducated.
- Romney lost because of voter fraud.
I don’t know why Romney lost. I will leave that to smarter people than me to figure out. I will say, though, that there’s some truth in a couple of those sound bites and none in others.
The analyst in me says those things only matter to the extent we use that knowledge to win hearts and minds (and elections) in the next four years.
We have a golden opportunity right now in the conservative and libertarian movements. Don’t get me wrong, I am afraid for my financial future and the future of civil liberties (1st, 2nd, 4th Amendments for starters) after last night. But it’s the perfect time to regroup and define what I’m going to term the Liberty movement.
Liberty is a winning philosophy. It’s what America is built on. The current GOP loses because they’ve embraced judgmental social policies and haven’t differentiated themselves enough from the Dems on financial and big government-principles. A younger generation, the Paul Ryan generation of conservatives, holds a much more Liberty minded philosophy. It’s time for them to take over leadership positions on the right and start a massive education and outreach movement aimed at the 15 to 45-year-old demographic (and start a preschool and elementary school program too).
Mitt Romney has lost. In a purely academic fashion, I can’t help but think about what the Republican Party will get out of last night’s results. After all, there is bound to be some kind of “after action” examination of the Romney campaign, at least by pundits.
Much of the results of those examinations will be that Romney wasn’t “conservative enough.” They figure that the problem wasn’t that he was a horrible candidate, but that he wasn’t far enough to the right.
This ignores the fact that more and more people are supporting issues like gay marriage and ending the War on Drugs. This isn’t indicative of an evangelical conservative stance as many Republicans tend to think most Americans really have. Instead, it seems to indicate a more libertarian stance on social issues. Will the conservative pundits understand that? It’s doubtful, but we will see.
Economics are another issue that played a major role in the election. It’s also one that some conservatives think they should modify their position on if they want to win in 2016. Romney talked a sort-of free market game, and it looks like it cost him because free markets scare a lot of people. Now, he wasn’t as free market as he liked to think he was, but what he put out seemed to scare enough voters in battle ground states that those people opted not to vote for him.
Personally, I can’t help but believe that foreign policy cost him. Obama’s supporters weren’t likely to change their vote on that issue apparently, but the undecided voters may have swung his way had there been more difference than “drone strikes and kill ‘em all” that we’ve seen for the last four years.
Many of my conversations with Republicans regarding the Presidential race and the fact that I intend to vote for Gary Johnson usually end up in one of two categories. First, there are the people who tell me that by voting for Johnson, I’m voting for President Obama. As I’ve noted before, this an absurd argument largely because it assumes that Mitt Romney is entitled to my vote as a libertarian, an argument which I don’t accept. The other argument I frequently hear is one that basically says that my vote is wasted because Gary Johnson isn’t going to have any impact on the race. I’ve always thought that the two arguments are mutually contradictory. After all, if my vote for Johnson is going to hurt Romney then it obviously will have some impact on the race, and if it isn’t going to have any impact on the race then it isn’t going to hurt Mitt Romney. You really can’t make both arguments at the same time.
I’ve always thought, though, that the best way to judge what people really think is to look at how they act, and based on their actions, Republicans really seem to be concerned about Gary Johnson’s potential impact on the Presidential race:
When he was running for the Republican presidential nomination last year, Gary Johnson, the former two-term Republican governor of New Mexico, drew ridicule from mainstream party members as he advocated legalized marijuana and a 43 percent cut in military spending.
A bit of controversy has been going around lately with the so-called “Poll Denialists.” These are Republicans and conservatives who believe that Romney’s current poll numbers, lagging Obama’s, are somehow false, a scheme by pollsters to deliberately skew the election towards an Obama victory, and are trying to explain it away with…well, I’m not sure what.
Jay Cost of The Weekly Standard mostly sums it up with “the polls are oversampling Democrats.” Robert Stacy McCain of The American Spectator just thinks it’s beyond any reason to believe that Obama is leading. And there is an entire website called “unskewedpolls.com” dedicated to finding the “true numbers” behind the polls.
This is pretty much balderdash, based on bad assumptions of how polling works and just plain fantasy. Stephen L. Taylor of Outside the Beltway focuses on the latter when he says: