Intermarkets' Privacy Policy
Support
« Thursday Morning News Dump | Main | Buzzfeed Runs Very Buzzfeedish Piece on Shutdown Theater »
October 10, 2013

The GOP Civil War...The Role Of Outside Groups And The Empire Strikes Back

In many ways the current shutdown/debt ceiling/ObamaCare battles are merely proxy fights for the leadership and direction of the Republican Party. It's a fight that's been awhile in the making and is as ugly as it is necessary.

Think back to the aftermath of 2008. Obama's election was supposed to herald a new age in which the GOP would never another election for an officer more important than dog catcher.

When a party faces a devastating defeat and is totally removed from power after a good run it usually spends quite a bit of time in the wilderness (think the Conservatives in the UK and Canada after Thatcher/Major and Mulroney respectively) figuring out where it went wrong, what new policies and messages to come back with and to develop new leaders untainted by past failures.

Thanks to the magical powers of Barack Obama, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi in 2009/2010, Democrats managed to turn their supposed generational tidal shift into a two year run. Suddenly the GOP found itself back in the driver’s seat of the House and had gained traction in the Senate.

The GOP's 2010 revival was not really the result of anything it did. Beyond, "You're mad at Obama and so are we", there were no policy initiatives, no new messaging strategies, just the good fortune of having an opponent who over played their hand. There were some new faces certainly and an anti-DC business as usual attitude, but leadership of the party remained with people who were just a notch below the old guard when the ship went onto the rocks in the first place. When the energy of the "tea party" turns into the speakership of John Boehner, there's a disconnect between what Republicans voters want and who is supposed to be delivering it. I understand why it's that way but that doesn't change the fact that it's a marriage of convenience rather than conviction.

Something that didn't help the insurgent/establishment relationship was that fresh from having the insurgents return the establishment to power, one of the first things that establishment did was...to try and renege on their promise to cut $100 billion in spending upon taking office.

In retrospect, it was pretty clear that electing Republicans was simply the first step in the process. Holding them to their word and keeping them on the straight and narrow was going to be a near full time job.

This concern about Republican betrayal of conservative promises and positions is no mere paranoia. Republican control of the House, the White House and the Senate (precariously at times) had not produced conservative results. In fact thanks to No Child Left Behind, Medicare Part D, and bloated domestic spending in areas like Agriculture and Transportation, conservatives had begun their rebellion during the Bush years. Remember Pork Busters?

(Fun side note: Supposed conservative hero and House Majority Leader Tom Delay reacted to the increased conservative concern over pork by declaring victory in the war on government overspending).

There’s clearly a faction of the party (the entrenched professional class) that saw the victories of 2010 as simply an opportunity to return to business as usual. There was no real urgency to roll back the Obama agenda of 09-10, just to accept the ground lost and move on. Oh sure there were plenty of votes to repeal ObamaCare but not when it really counted. In divided government only a handful of bills are going to pass. If you don’t hitch your wagon to one of the few “must pass” pieces of legislation, you’re really just putting on a show for the folks back home.

Enter the establishments new favorite conservative villains...the Senate Conservative Fund, Heritage Action and The Club for Growth. The knock on these groups is that they spend far more time attacking Republicans than Democrats. And to a large extent, it’s a fair description. But that ignores the problem they are trying to solve…weak kneed Republicans who left to their own devices will revert to their big spending, go-along, get-along ways.


The fact of the matter is, given past performance, Republican office holders do need an enforcer looking over their shoulders. I like to think of these groups not as “the enemy within” but as the “motivation squad”. If you aren’t a self-motivator, most people will take the path of least resistance. For Republican officeholders, that often means giving in to the DC mindset that their job is to manage the train and keep it running to the benefit of those who pay the freight. Well, these conservative groups are serving as the eyes and ears (and occasionally the clinched fist) of conservative voters back home who sent people to DC to slow the train down and eventually put it on a different track.

Naturally, the people who liked the old train aren’t pleased that there’s an alternative source of pressure and rewards. Times as they say, are changing.

Back in 2006, I asked a couple of conservative Republican congressmen to give blurbs for my book on corporate welfare. “My boss loves the book,” one of their top aides said, “but we’re not going to put his name on it." Why not, I asked. "Who do you think funds his campaigns?" she whispered. "It’s not the Family Research Council.”

In short, the conservative congressman was happy to fight the good fight, but he wasn’t willing to upset Big Business because that’s where the checks came from — and no checks meant no re-election.

But the Tea Party smashed K Street's monopoly on Republican fundraising. The Club for Growth was founded in the late 1990s, and early last decade, it began targeting liberal Republicans in primaries. By 2010, the Club had become a giant force, raising money for candidates who met its rigorous ideological tests and pouring millions into independent expenditures against less-favored Republicans and Democrats.

In 2009, Sen. Jim DeMint founded the Senate Conservatives Fund. The thinking was this: The job of the party leadership was to elect Republicans to the Senate, no matter what. DeMint wanted conservative Republicans.

Instead of corporate interests filling Republican coffers, ideological money started coming in, too.

Competition is good for everyone, except those who previously had the field to themselves. They aren’t so happy about it.

As the government shutdown grinds toward a potential debt default, some of the country’s most influential business executives have come to a conclusion all but unthinkable a few years ago: Their voices are carrying little weight with the House majority that their millions of dollars in campaign contributions helped build and sustain.

...

“We are looking at ways to counter the rise of an ideological brand of conservatism that, for lack of a better word, is more anti-establishment than it has been in the past,” said David French, the top lobbyist at the National Retail Federation. “We have come to the conclusion that sitting on the sidelines is not good enough.”


That little story about the book blurb and now business groups being unhappy that they don't think they are getting what they pay for illustrates the dishonesty of one of the main charges lobbed at these outside groups…that they are only in it for the money.

To hear people in DC talk about it you’d think that money wasn’t raised for political causes and candidates before that damn Jim DeMint showed up. It’s absolutely ridiculous for political operatives, who make their money from donors or people who want to get something from government to whine like children about other people raising money.

It’s about control. When you are the only source of campaign cash (and Ted Cruz isn’t the only candidate who raises money) you get a lot of respect and attention. Now these other people dare to play on their field? “Remove the uncouth rabble immediately! Only professionals should be allowed to decide who is worthy of money and who isn’t!”

Coincidentally enough, the people deemed most worthy of the professional classes largess were the ones who played by the rules of the games.

And how did that work out for the GOP and the country?

I have no problem with acknowledging the failures and shortcomings of this new brand of political player but let’s not pretend the entrenched professionals have been racking up win upon win for years. The track record of the insurgents maybe spotty but wins like the House in 2010, replacing Bob Bennett with Mike Lee in Utah, Ron Johnson win in Wisconsin, Rand Paul over Mitch McConnell’s choice in Kentucky, Cruz over Dewhurst in Texas, and yes even Marco Rubio over Charlie Crist in Florida.

While I like the idea of holding Republicans to feet to the fire, let's be smart about it.

Former Congressman Joe Walsh of Illinois decided that Senator Mark Kirk, also of Illinois, needs to be primaried b/c he called for a clean CR. Now Walsh is a former Congressman because he's, well, an idiot.

Here's where a little discernment would go a long way for conservatives. Kirk is a moderate Republican. He's also holding a Senate seat in ILLINOIS. That's practically theft. Let's not make him the problem, ok?

People like Lindsey Graham, a moderate in a deep red state are a problem. A big spender like Thad Cochran from Mississippi (a conservative but poor state that loves federal money) is a problem.

If Kirk needs to talk liberal on some issues, fine. Did I mention ILLINOIS?

What we can't have is guys like Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker, both from Tennessee starting or joining Senate "gangs" that always move things left and cut the legs out from conservatives.

We need our "mavericks" to emulate what "moderate" and red state Democrats do...talk a big game back home but when push comes to shove, shut up and vote the right way.

And NEVER join a "gang". To me, that's open warfare and a primary is a reasonable reaction no matter the state.

These alternate conservative institutions didn’t create the mess that led to Obama and the crash of the GOP brand. They haven’t cleaned decades of mistakes in 3 years either but let’s not attack people who are at least trying something new. Who knows, it’s so crazy it may even work.

digg this
posted by DrewM. at 10:12 AM

| Access Comments




Recent Comments
BackwardsBoy, who did not vote for this shit [/i][/s][/b][/u]: "[I]I don't buy it for one fucking second. It's Ped ..."

tinfoil baby: "Ya, first black in america survives ebola. ..."

steveegg: "[i]The "payload specialist" on a flight that deplo ..."

wooga: "Blood types are racist. ..."

The Progs: "[i]It's my understanding that this nurse, along wi ..."

Blanco Basura: "[i]NYC practices WMD response at times square..... ..."

D-Lamp: "Amber Vinson is ebola free and being transferred o ..."

ThunderB: "Meth Truck was a little too obvious ..."

Mike Hammer, etc., etc.: "No, it's the same course for a lot of patients. Th ..."

ThunderB: "they aren't selling ice cream ..."

OG Celtic-American, Vaginal Voter Ballot Inspector: "O/T but weird. Ice cream truck just drove by. S ..."

sven10077@sven10077[/i][/b][/s]: "http://tinyurl.com/p5caygl See-Bee-Ess NYC p ..."

Recent Entries
Search


MuNuvians
Polls! Polls! Polls!
Frequently Asked Questions
The (Almost) Complete Paul Anka Integrity Kick
Top Top Tens
Greatest Hitjobs

The Ace of Spades HQ Sex-for-Money Skankathon
A D&D Guide to the Democratic Candidates
Margaret Cho: Just Not Funny
More Margaret Cho Abuse
Margaret Cho: Still Not Funny
Iraqi Prisoner Claims He Was Raped... By Woman
Wonkette Announces "Morning Zoo" Format
John Kerry's "Plan" Causes Surrender of Moqtada al-Sadr's Militia
World Muslim Leaders Apologize for Nick Berg's Beheading
Michael Moore Goes on Lunchtime Manhattan Death-Spree
Milestone: Oliver Willis Posts 400th "Fake News Article" Referencing Britney Spears
Liberal Economists Rue a "New Decade of Greed"
Artificial Insouciance: Maureen Dowd's Word Processor Revolts Against Her Numbing Imbecility
Intelligence Officials Eye Blogs for Tips
They Done Found Us Out, Cletus: Intrepid Internet Detective Figures Out Our Master Plan
Shock: Josh Marshall Almost Mentions Sarin Discovery in Iraq
Leather-Clad Biker Freaks Terrorize Australian Town
When Clinton Was President, Torture Was Cool
What Wonkette Means When She Explains What Tina Brown Means
Wonkette's Stand-Up Act
Wankette HQ Gay-Rumors Du Jour
Here's What's Bugging Me: Goose and Slider
My Own Micah Wright Style Confession of Dishonesty
Outraged "Conservatives" React to the FMA
An On-Line Impression of Dennis Miller Having Sex with a Kodiak Bear
The Story the Rightwing Media Refuses to Report!
Our Lunch with David "Glengarry Glen Ross" Mamet
The House of Love: Paul Krugman
A Michael Moore Mystery (TM)
The Dowd-O-Matic!
Liberal Consistency and Other Myths
Kepler's Laws of Liberal Media Bias
John Kerry-- The Splunge! Candidate
"Divisive" Politics & "Attacks on Patriotism" (very long)
The Donkey ("The Raven" parody)
News/Chat
Archives
Powered by
Movable Type 2.64