09.21.2010 0

The Establishment Strikes Back

Republican primary voters have cast a decisive verdict against the Washington establishment in 2010. In ousting incumbent Senator Lisa Murkowski in the Alaska Republican primary, and denying Representative Mike Castle the party’s nomination in Delaware for the open Senate seat there, grassroots Republicans are doing what they must to bring fresh faces to Washington.

An open question is whether political Independents will join Republican voters in November. Polling indicates that they are. Douglas Schoen and Heather Higgins wrote in the Wall Street Journal on September 20th, “independents say they lean more toward the Republican Party than the Democratic Party, 50 percent to 25 percent, and that the Republican Party is closer to their views by 52 percent to 30 percent.”

That is a telling result. With strong, conservative candidates in several prominent races, Republican primary voters have a strong chance of radically changing composition of Congress. In races across the country, Republicans are campaigning on a limited government and free market platform. That they are winning the support of Independents shows the broad appeal of that message.

The fact is the American people are acting against whoever they perceive to be a part of the establishment. They are desperate to find new, capable individuals to serve and save their country from insolvency and decline, and the fact is they have every right to choose their party’s nominees.

The primaries are now over. In the least, limited government and free market candidates who won their primaries and their supporters deserve an opportunity to demonstrate their appeal to the general electorate — free of interference from their own party. So-called moderates in the GOP are claiming that these more conservative candidates, despite polling that suggests otherwise, will not be electable, reports Congressional Quarterly-Roll Call.

Representative Patrick Tiberi (R-OH) has said, “I don’t think the majority of districts can elect Jim DeMint Republicans.” Quite a vote of confidence. Do these guys think about anything besides the horserace?

Representative Bob Inglis (R-SC) agrees, “It doesn’t help us to hold purity meetings. I just don’t know how you build a party … by subtraction.” Although, apparently Inglis would have no trouble subtracting certain conservatives from the ticket.

Ironically, Inglis also said, “It doesn’t help for us to turn on each other.” Apparently, he has not considered that that is exactly what the establishment Republicans have done against the party faithful’s duly elected nominees in Alaska and now Delaware.

Then there is the rather curious hypothesis that only moderates can win, since it is the more conservative candidates that are actually defeating their establishment counterparts at the ballot box. Joe Miller beat Murkowski. Christine O’Donnell beat Castle. Rand Paul beat Trey Grayson. Mike Lee beat incumbent Senator Bob Bennet in Utah. Marco Rubio was beating Charlie Crist when Crist left the Republican Party. And Ken Buck and Pat Toomey won their nominations in Colorado and Pennsylvania, respectively.

Across the country, grassroots Republicans are telling their leaders that they want something different than the Party that spent too much in 2000’s, accepted earmarks, expanded Medicare, federalized education, and helped bring about the Troubled Asset Relief Program and the bailouts in 2008.

In primary after primary, it is the establishment that is losing — not the conservatives. If a candidate cannot even win a primary, then there is no opportunity to compete in the general election.

This should give many in power pause. This should be a moment for reflection. For self-examination. For unity.

Instead, despite losing the primary, Murkowski refuses to concede the race. She is now running as an Independent via a write-in campaign. Castle refuses to endorse O’Donnell who defeated him handily at the ballot box. Not only does this demonstrate a complete lack of class and a sense of entitlement by these sore losers, it shows just how resistant the establishment is to any accountability from the voting public.

This is not how a viable Party acts, it is how high school students seat themselves in a cafeteria — with “cool kid” tables. Murkowski and Castle refuse to sit at the same table with those who beat them fair and square and earned their seat at the table. This is pure sabotage. Neither should ever again be allowed in any position of leadership in the Party.

So too must those commentators crying about the decisive results of these primaries consider the public spectacle they have created. Rather than utilizing the politically useful narrative that the establishment is crumbling, and that there is a chance the change Washington, they are resisting it.

Meanwhile, when conservative Pat Toomey lost the Republican primary in 2006 to Senator Arlen Specter, he endorsed Specter. Had Miller and O’Donnell lost their primaries, the establishment would have expected them to endorse their opponents. If, however, they did what Murkowski and Castle are doing, they would have rightly been accused of sabotage.

Instead, the establishment strikes back with impunity.

Fortunately, the Senate Republican Conference had the good sense to immediately oust Murkowski as its conference secretary. And, because Castle ran for the Senate, he will not be appearing in the House next year. The bottom line is that neither will be back in Congress any time soon.

That alone may change the way other incumbent Senators and Representatives behave in the future while in office. And for those voters that are rejecting the establishment, that is a victory.

Robert Romano is the Senior Editor of Americans for Limited Government (ALG) News Bureau.

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