Just as moderates are completely unrepresented in a Democratic Party that’s dominated by liberals, movement conservatives often don’t feel represented by the Republican Party. At first glance, this seems rather odd since most Republicans in Congress are conservative. However, it’s a natural reaction to the Republican establishment that has its hands welded to many of the GOP’s levers of power. The Republican Party may be mostly conservative, but there are a multitude of reasons that you can’t trust the establishment Republicans as far as you can throw them.
1) They have supreme confidence without supreme competence. Conservative talk show hosts, columnists, bloggers and Tea Partiers don’t always get it right. We make our mistakes. But, we recognize that. The problem with the establishment Republicans is that they make just as many mistakes, if not more, without ever being humbled by the experience. Karl Rove is a truly brilliant man and he’s done a great service for conservatism by raising so much money to help Republican candidates (although he’s now promising to torpedo conservative candidates in GOP primaries), but his strategic decision-making also turned Bush’s second term into a Hindenburg style disaster that the GOP hasn’t recovered from yet. How did the “Super-Committee” the GOP establishment championed in 2011 work out? Not so well. How about Harriet Miers? The comprehensive immigration reform battle in Bush’s second term? John McCain? Mitt Romney? It’s fine to think you’re the smartest guy in the room, but if you can’t back it up, don’t expect everyone to ignore the dunce cap you’re wearing and pretend that you’re Einstein.
2) They always prefer moderates to conservatives. It should tell you something when the GOP establishment always, always, ALWAYS prefers the least conservative candidate. It backed Arlen Specter over Pat Toomey, David Dewhurst over Ted Cruz, Bob Bennett over Mike Lee, Trey Grayson over Rand Paul and Charlie Crist over Marco Rubio. Our two top “leaders” in the Senate, Mitch McConnell and John Cornyn, both endorsed Charlie Crist over Marco Rubio, a guy who is now being touted as one of the frontrunners for the presidency in 2016. When the best and brightest of the GOP in the Senate were almost universally opposed by the GOP establishment, what message does it send to the base? It sure as hell ain’t “You can trust us” or “We’re on your side.” The real message is, “We’re so frightened by our own base that we’d rather back future Democrats like Charlie Crist and Arlen Specter than movement conservatives.”
3) They stick with the same failed leaders. John Boehner and Mitch McConnell have been in charge in Congress since 2006. What do we have to show for their “leadership?” Three bad election cycles out of four. John Boehner seems to mean well, but neither he nor McConnell can message their way out of a wet paper bag. In addition, McConnell has been outmaneuvered and outsmarted by Harry Reid at every turn and is polling so poorly that he’s pulling a Todd Akin by running for his seat when he should be stepping aside for a more electable candidate. Reince Priebus did an excellent job of raising money at the RNC last cycle, but did nothing else well during a lousy cycle that his failure as RNC Chairman contributed to mightily. Everyone agrees that the GOP did poorly in the Senate in 2012; yet the head of the NRSC John Cornyn failed upwards to become the new Minority Whip in the Senate. William Buckley once said, “I’d rather be governed by the first 2,000 names in the Boston telephone directory than by the faculty of Harvard.” Well, the GOP would be better led by randomly elected Republicans than the crew that’s running the show.
4) They’re incessantly looking for excuses to jettison conservative principles. When Democrats run for office, they lie about being moderates to get elected and then move to the Left. When Republicans run for office, they lie about being conservative and then move to the middle. So, when Barack Obama lies, it’s a lie about pretending to oppose gay marriage. On the other hand, when Republicans like Marco Rubio lie, it’s a lie about opposing amnesty for illegals. What that means is that there is never a time when conservatives can trust Republicans in Congress to just do the right thing. Every time gun control, immigration or spending comes up, we have to ramp the pressure all the way up just to get the Republicans in Congress to do the jobs they were sent to Congress to do in the first place. If you hired a waiter at your restaurant and you had to yell at him every day to get him to talk to customers or hand his orders in to the kitchen, you’d fire him in a heartbeat. We’d love to do the same thing to Republicans in Congress and the only reason we don’t is that it would mean hiring Democrats who’d pocket all the tips, loot the cash register, and picket the restaurant for not having a bathroom for transsexuals.
5) The Republican establishment doesn’t produce results. With Obama in power, the Democrats slammed through Obamacare and are pushing for gay marriage and gun control. On the other hand, when Republicans were in power, they implemented Medicare Part D and wanted comprehensive immigration reform. What’s supposed to excite conservatives about that? Additionally, no matter who’s in charge, government gets bigger and spending increases. The establishment also managed to clear the way for both John McCain and Mitt Romney because they were both moderates who ran from social issues, which made them so “electable.” As it turns out, they were both so “electable” that they lost. Isn’t it funny how often the GOP establishment gets its way, loses, then declares that no one could have done better and we need even more of the same next time? Show us the great victories achieved for the conservative movement by the establishment Republicans who’ve had their way with the party since Newt Gingrich’s Republican Revolution spluttered to a stop? If the establishment Republicans don’t have anything to offer but defeat, painful compromises that never seem to bear any political fruit, and complaints about the people whose first priority is the good of the country instead of fattening their own wallets, what good are they?
6) Where’s the urgency? Where’s the fight? Did you ever notice that both John McCain and Mitt Romney ran far nastier and more vicious campaigns against their Republican primary opponents than they did against Barack Obama? Conservatives, the establishment Republicans will fight tooth and nail, but when they’re up against Democrats, they turn into pussycats. Democrats don’t have any qualms about trying to eviscerate Republicans, but the GOP establishment keeps acting like it’s going to win some kind of sportsmanship award for putting out forgettable lines of attack that pass through the mind like prunes pass through the body. Meanwhile, outside of the Beltway, guns, gold and survival seeds are flying off the shelves and many Americans are convinced for good reason that this country is headed toward an economic collapse driven by our unsustainable debt within the next decade or two. While that’s happening, Barack Obama is talking about overruling Congress with executive orders and minting trillion dollar platinum coins. Yet, if you listen to the Republican establishment, you’d think all is well and it is just business as usual. We don’t need screaming or rants about Hitler, but it would be nice to get the idea that the establishment Republicans aren’t content to sit on the deck of the sinking Titanic, watching the ship go down while they ask people running by if they’d like to play a game of shuffleboard while they’re waiting.
7) They don’t represent the values of conservatives in key areas. Ronald Reagan is the patron saint of the conservative movement, but if you look at his time in office, you’ll discover that Reagan actually compromised quite a bit with the Democrats. So, why do conservatives today revere Reagan, but not trust the establishment Republicans when they want to compromise? Simple; conservatives knew Ronald Reagan was one of us and had our best interests at heart. The same can’t be said of Mitch McConnell, John Cornyn, Peggy Noonan, Kathleen Parker, John Boehner, David Frum, Mike Murphy, Steve Schmidt, Joe Scarborough, John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Reince Priebus, Karl Rove, David Brooks, Megan McCain, Bob Dole, Chris Christie, Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush. They’re not bad people (Well, Frum and Megan McCain may be) and we would likely agree on a lot of things, but they’re not movement conservatives. Their agenda is not our agenda, their goals are not our goals, and that means that ultimately, we can never trust them the way liberals can trust politicians like Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reid. At the end of the day, if you’re going to ask someone to act as your agent in a hostage negotiation, you have to be confident that he wants the hostage back with all his fingers and toes intact just as much as you do.