“What do you want from me???”
It’s something everyone’s said before, typically in situations where the speaker has individually fallen short of satisfying the stated or implied wishes of someone they cared about, the shame of failure apparently not sufficient to make the moment pass. Assumptions that someone – or something – understands what needs to be done are often wrong.
This definitely is the case for the contemporary Republican Party, an entity many conservatives swear they’re tired of being betrayed by and can’t support any longer, yet still feel trapped by political reality to continue trying to reform and improve it. In today’s two-party system, after all, the choices at election time usually narrow to Democrats vs. Republicans -- and with Democrats being so heinous and “evil”, there isn’t another alternative other than to vote GOP and hope for the best.
Part of the problem is conservatives don’t know what to expect from the party leaders. We’ve been burned so many times, it’s like the ol’ adage about touching a hot stove – and learning from the pain. Only now, that GOP hot stove keeps daring us to touch it again. When is it finally time to say enough is enough?
In a piece titled “What Should Conservatives Demand From the Republican Party?”, the always on-point Scott McKay wrote at The American Spectator:
“For one thing, the GOP has got to learn to love its voters if it wants them to love it back. Say whatever you want about Trump, but the man doesn’t have contempt for his supporters. That accusation has been thrown at him by the usual Never-Trump suspects, but it simply doesn’t fly...
“Which leads me to my second point... The GOP had better fall in love with, and get addicted to, winning. Give the Democrats this much: Winning is all they care about. They’re so obsessed with winning that they’ve made everything else irrelevant. Their arguments are garbage, and so is their governance. They’ve shredded the rule of law, every place they rule is a ruin, and they’ve lost the ability to develop leaders with so much as a modicum of sanity, all because they’re maniacal about victory in whatever’s next — an election cycle, a polling cycle, a news cycle…
“There are lots more things this party needs if it’s going to rebuild trust with its own base... But it seems that the most fundamental is that a party that loves its voters and earnestly desires to win for them will do better than a party that does neither, and a reformed, capable GOP geared to kindling an American revival should start by becoming that.”
There you have it. Love and winning – that’s what we conservatives should demand from the Republican party. Receiving these considerations from a group of DC swamp establishmentarians like today’s Republican Party leaders is easier said than done, of course, since the GOP bluebloods, unlike their Democrat counterparts, aren’t nearly so enamored with party voters – a.k.a. us -- and in most cases they would rather be right (in their estimation) than successful.
Who knows whether Democrats truly “love” their own voters, but the party’s leaders and candidates are willing to crawl to them, baby them, praise them, do favors for them, lie for them, cheat for them, steal for them, etc. – all in the name of winning elections so as to maintain power for the lot of them. How else would a half braindead idiot like John Fetterman have won in Pennsylvania last year? The man couldn’t even respond to verbal questions – they had to be typed so he could read them on a screen.
Liberals would vote for a Democrat corpse before they’d ever think about switching to the sensible side.
As for Republicans, the 2017 Alabama senate runoff is a perfect example of a lack of amore for the conservative grassroots – and disdain for winning. That’s when conservative to the core Judge Roy Moore was chosen by the state’s Republican voters to run to retain the safer than safe senate seat Jeff Sessions had given up to serve (briefly) as Donald Trump’s first Attorney General. Sessions had tucked tail and run at the first sign of Democrat displeasure upon the initiation of the Russian collusion farce, and Sessions’ establishment senate replacement (the governor appointed) was subsequently rejected by the grassroots in the state GOP primary.
The only problem with this scenario being that the headstrong and controversial Moore wouldn’t bow and kiss Mitch McConnell’s ring, resulting in the Judge having to go it pretty much without national party backing for the election. The Democrat ended up winning the December runoff, but it’s doubtful McConnell cared a lick that it hurt the slim majority’s chances of passing the new president’s agenda. As predictable as the tides, this is exactly what transpired.
There are other establishment travesties in the recent past. There was Christine O’Donnell in Delaware (2010), Richard Mourdock in Indiana (2012), Todd Akin in Missouri (2012) and Sharron Angle in Nevada (2010) as well. If any or all of them had won, how would the nation be different today? We can only wonder.
Recall that Trump’s initial efforts to get Congress (with GOP majorities in both chambers and Paul Ryan as Speaker) to repeal and replace Obamacare failed miserably thanks in large part to intra-party sabotage by “moderates” in the House as well as the terminally ill John McCain in the senate in addition to the unwillingness by Ryan to keep the Republicans’ longtime promise to rid the nation of Barack Obama’s signature legislative accomplishment.
The establishment didn’t get their way, so they took their ball and went home. We’d seen it before and again since, the GOP ruling class conceding winnable seats before the campaign even gets underway, just to prevent conservative “boat rockers” from making unrest for them. In a way, the ruling class’s behavior acts as a form of “political abortion”, since the leaders’ trouble is extinguished before it even materializes.
As McKay pointed out, Democrats would never do this to their own – not in a primary campaign or certainly not in Congress. Few remember that “Squad” leader Alexandria Ocasio Cortez came to Washington promising not to rubberstamp the Democrat leaders, but soon enough Nancy Pelosi had the upstart New Yorker under her iron boot. Democrats stick together like birds of a feather, don’t they?
Conservatives aren’t disloyal, either. We’ve all experienced disappointment at losing a particularly hard fought primary where a solid, principled conservative falls to a candidate who’s clearly a go-along-to-get-along establishment type. You can spot them from a mile away, which includes most incumbents in Congress. Yet conservatives seem much more willing to accept the primary result, stow their anger or angst and get to work helping that person prepare to win the general election so as to pad party numbers and influence the overall leadership balance.
Judge Roy Moore, had he won, would’ve been a thorn in Mitch McConnell’s side, but it’s highly doubtful the Alabamian would’ve joined the Democrats to vote for “Chucky” Schumer as Senate Leader. At the same time, a conservative House winner would never have voted for Nancy Pelosi as Speaker. Leadership matters – a whole lot.
So, what should conservatives demand from the Republican Party? What if they asked, “What do you want from me?”
As McKay argued, love for Republican voters in addition to a love for winning elections is the minimum we should require from the party honchos. The establishment can show “love” and promote winning at the same time by simply staying neutral in all primary contests and treating the candidate who prevails as though winning the general election in his or her state/district is as important as every other race.
The party’s campaign committees (the National Republican Senatorial Committee and National Republican Congressional Committee) should not be empowered to influence any primaries, including those featuring an incumbent. They should also stay out of general election contests where more than one Republican appears on the ballot, as was the case in Alaska last year, where longtime establishment senator Lisa Murkowski won reelection because of stupid “ranked choice” balloting.
Further, all candidates should be compelled to sign a binding “loyalty pledge” to support the presidential nominee chosen by the grassroots – or receive no money from the national party. This would’ve never been necessary prior to Donald Trump winning the 2016 nomination, but there are a number of candidates nationwide (like ex-congresswoman Liz Cheney) who outwardly opposed their party’s own president.
Money talks. If you’re a candidate and won’t back the party figurehead, why should the rest of the party members support your personal quest to assist the other side?
Lastly, we should demand that the Republican Party pay credence to the positive trends from the past several years (i.e., the Trump years) by adhering to a switch in messaging. Thanks largely to Trump himself, the Republican Party has closed the “empathy gap” with Democrats, meaning, “regular people” aren’t automatically assuming that leftist weirdo politicians care about them any longer. This is true among most major voting blocs – people without college degrees, blacks, Hispanics and lower income Americans.
Trump’s MAGA message works. Why fight it?
The next time a Republican politician asks, “What do you want from me?”, try telling them you want “love” and a hard drive towards doing what it takes to win elections. In American politics, there is no consolation prize for second place, and there’s no substitute for respect for the people who contribute the money and do the work for the party to succeed.
Who said that politics had to be impersonal and complicated?
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