How could you?
Such was my reaction when it was announced last Friday that Ronna Romney McDaniel was easily reelected to her fourth term as lead overseer of all things GOP at the Republican National Committee meeting in California. The final vote tallies don’t really matter. All that’s of any importance now is there wasn’t a sufficient groundswell for change at the top among the 168 voting members last week, which no doubt engendered the same stupefied stares and startled utterances when the realization hit others similarly inclined as myself that five elections of failure wasn’t sufficient incentive to move people off of McDaniel’s pampered bandwagon.
In addition to the anger at being taken for granted again – this time it wasn’t the establishment media, election shenanigans or wishy-washy voters in any particular location that inflicted the damage – I felt sad. Not teary eyed sad, but still depressed. The fact that most conservatives are Republicans but not all Republicans are conservatives was amply demonstrated by the RNC voters (three individual voting members from each state and territory), meaning the same sense of frustration McDaniel is responsible for now is bound to perpetuate for years.
The next RNC Chairman vote won’t take place until after the 2024 election and a new president is sworn in (in January, 2025), and bringing longtime proven loser McDaniel back for another go ‘round basically increases the Democrats’ chances of winning that privilege by several fold. It’s not that Ronna can’t raise dough – she’s done fairly well by those standards – but she hasn’t exhibited a basic oneness with the party grassroots. And without the people on the ground willing to do the volunteer work necessary to get out the vote, will the worst happen again?
It doesn’t take a doctor to pronounce that the Republican Party is chronically ill and in need of an intervention. In a piece titled “Republicans in twilight: RNC vote reflects era of institutional complacency”, astute political observer Michael McKenna wrote at The Washington Times:
“The Republican establishment hasn’t won an election cycle since 2010. Arizona has been a shambolic mess for the Republicans for years now. The last time we had a clear victory in a shooting war was in 1945.
“Healthy people and organizations, when faced with that immediate history of failure, would wonder what they were doing wrong and what changes and improvements might be needed. Not the Republicans, whose answer always seems to be to stay the course, even if it is clearly failing.
“Think about all this as we wander toward the 2024 elections. Former President Donald Trump was not some weird aberration. His victory in the Republican nominating contest in 2016 was a direct consequence of the party’s inability or unwillingness to address its deficiencies head-on. Unless and until it does, there will continue to be candidates like Mr. Trump, and they will and should win.”
Whoa, hold on a second. McKenna almost sounds as though he’s issuing a tacit endorsement of Donald Trump’s candidacy in the too early to comment on 2024 Republican presidential primary race, but those familiar with the Washington Times columnist’s work wouldn’t believe he’s had that significant of a change of heart to start tooting the horn for the former president’s return.
It’s clear McKenna was just as irked as most conservatives at the RNC’s reluctance to change horses at mid-race. The “Stupid Party” keeps repeating the same mistakes over and over and expecting Americans to somehow grasp the error of their past ways and begin electing Republicans simply because there’s a “R” next to their names on the ballot.
Events, perhaps since Ronald Reagan left Washington in the late eighties, have shown that generic “establishment” Republicans aren’t worth a whole lot. Unlike their Democrat counterparts, ruling class GOPers say they’re for lots of things that sound good to Americans –balanced budgets, low taxes, a strong military and traditional social values – but once these folks get to the capital, they turn into non-ideological mush pots and serve as human clay for the much more aggressive Democrats to mold under the guise of phony “bipartisanship”.
I don’t agree with what they stand for, but Democrats don’t shy away from advocating their ideas, no matter how impossible, inane or fantastical the notions may be. Liberals get before a microphone and say whatever comes to mind to advance their cause. And they don’t apologize – ever.
Donald Trump took a similar approach to the campaign trail in 2016 and commentators were stunned at how enthusiastic long-jilted political people became when they heard his message. Sadly, Trump’s combative lesson appears to have fallen on deaf ears in the upper echelons of power at party headquarters.
Democrats relish the fight as much as they do the victory. They enjoy the mosh pit aspect of politics. Establishment Republicans, on the other hand, listen to the liberal news media and then run out to defend themselves every time they’re portrayed in a negative light. Democrats bring the heavy ammunition to the war. Republicans take sling shots and snowballs with them. This much was evident when the RNC members brought back Ronna to give it another term last week.
In examining the problems at the Republican National Committee, it’s not quite akin to an “autopsy” conducted in the aftermath of a disastrous election. Elections where citizens vote have a certain sense of finality to them, as though there’s nothing that can be done to reclaim the opportunity lost. It’s like dropping an ice cream cone on the ground. No quantity of self-analysis will restore the satisfaction of slurping the tasty treat once it’s hit the pavement.
The Republican Party is theoretically fixable. Its ice cream scoop is still mounted on top of the cone. The real question is how to do the work of mending it.
Lots of folks I’ve talked to think the GOP needs someone like Donald Trump but without the New Yorker’s personality quirk baggage. Florida’s Ron DeSantis is usually mentioned as the type of politician who fits the description. Trump himself said last weekend (during his first two campaign events of 2023) that he’s ready to hit the campaign trail hard. There’s no reason to doubt his sincerity. There isn’t anything that Trump does that’s half-hearted or with anything less than full effort.
As for the RNC itself, conservatives can only hope that a sense of urgency garnered from several elections’ worth of losing or failing to meet expectations will overwhelm the institution. As McKenna pointed out, there’s great dissatisfaction among the grassroots, but still only two committee members ran for the chairman position (I’m taking it that My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell is not a member of the RNC).
This puny lack of participation indicates far too many Republican National Committee personnel are content with the way things are. Various organizations attempted to organize a grassroots effort to have folks pressure their three state voting members to kick Ronna to the side, but in the end, the contest wasn’t even close (McDaniel won 111 of the 167 votes cast on the first ballot). The fact members voted on a secret ballot further reveals the sense of situational complacency, since there was no need to put their names on the record – and they still chose Ronna.
We’ll need to wait and see if McDaniel makes good on her promise to examine the 2022 election results to determine what went wrong in the “sure thing” head-to-head with Joe Biden’s legacy last November. Here’s guessing the “autopsy” won’t delve far below the surface and fingers won’t be pointed at the party’s leaders. Though it can be said the GOP won the “popular” vote, it still didn’t result in the types of victories everyone was counting on.
The grassroots views Ronna’s easy reelection as a slap in the face and a further reflection of tone deafness at Republican headquarters. Like McKenna indicated, this surely will embolden some of the presidential candidates to run against the party itself, similar to how Trump constructed his strategy in 2016. If Trump can maintain discipline and not go off on tangents complaining about the 2020 results – and stick to attacking the establishment – he’ll likely be very effective, since he has history on his side.
Other candidates, particularly Ron DeSantis, are likely to share in the anti-Washington disdain. Who will occupy the “establishment” lane in the 2024 primaries? At present, I can’t see how a so-called “mainstream” Republican will have much success, especially since it’s clear the Washington swamp has a tight grip on the national party – and its leaders.
It’s hard to say how the voting members of the Republican National Committee who opted to give Ronna McDaniel a fourth term could justify what they did, but there’s no going back now. McDaniel herself must not be permitted another two years of business as usual, and conservatives should think twice before donating to the arrogant national party.
Drain the swamp!
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