In the U.S.A., Republican voters and grassroots are sharply divided in political culture from the Republican establishment and politicos. But one culture clash in particular is urgent and important: Does it really matter if Republicans win elections? Republican politicos furiously insist yes. Republican voters answer a lukewarm maybe.
The Republican Party is driving the United States over the cliff at 70 miles per hour, while the Democrat Party is driving the U.S.A. over the cliff at 120 miles per hour. Yet Republican leaders passionately try to convince us that it matters that Republicans must be driving as the car careens down into the abyss. But worst of all, Republican politicos cannot comprehend that they have not convinced anybody.
Obviously, there is a third possibility. Republican leadership could actually listen to the grassroots, take their concerns genuinely to heart, make changes, and institute reforms. Republican leaders could work on earning back the trust of their voters and volunteers. But they are so obstinate in their delusions that they cannot imagine that their arguments are failing to change anyone’s minds. The belief that the establishment’s arguments have been believed by anyone other than themselves is the most dangerous problem.
Of course, this sharp divide is driving a civil war within the U.S.A.’s Republican Party. At least it is one of a handful of factors. Some people are Republicans to achieve something. Others are Republicans just to be Republicans. It’s like a competition between rival fraternities at Yale or Harvard. Our club has to beat their club… just because.
Republicans winning elections is the most important thing as viewed by all Republican politicians, conservative or moderate. This is considered absolute truth for elected office-holders and candidates and also any Republican involved in politics as a career. It is so important that for decades the establishment has been attacking its own campaign workers and volunteers and its most loyal supporters.
This came alive for me in 1994, when the establishment savagely betrayed Col. Oliver North. (My friend Mark Merritt was Ollie’s press secretary.) Running for US Senate from Virginia, North lost by 2.7 percent because the GOP insiders ran Republican “RINO” Marshall Coleman as an Independent specifically to defeat North. Coleman took 11.4 percent of the vote on November 1, 1994, while North lost by only 2.7 percent. For all the talk today, insiders specifically intended to elect Democrat Chuck Robb rather than allow a conservative to win. For most conservatives, the marriage was over back then in 1994.
But in dramatic contrast, the vast population of Republican voters and grassroots holds a strikingly-different view. They do not care if Republicans win elections, unless winning will actually advance a beneficial agenda. GOP voters and grassroots volunteers see no point to electing Republicans if they won’t fight for a traditional Republican platform.
The widespread belief that “There’s not a dime’s worth of difference between the Democrat Party and the Republican Party” is the greatest threat, a mortal threat, to Republican success. The Republican political class furiously denounces such thinking. And having spoken, the politicos imagine that the argument is won and the debate is finished. It is not. GOP politicos are shouting into a hurricane. They persuade no one.
Time and time again I have warned Republicans. They respond by insisting that the country will be worse off if any Democrat wins than if any Republican gets elected. But they cannot grasp that nobody is listening to their argument. It doesn’t count if they persuade – translation: badger – me. They will still lose millions of volunteers and millions of voters.
What, pray tell, is my motivation to volunteer for a Republican candidate running for office? Someone ‘splain it to me. I lose personal time. I get nothing back. It costs me money out of pocket for incidental expenses if not donations. It may cost me time away from paying work. I won’t share the salary if the candidate wins. I don’t get the limelight. I will be ignored and treated like trailer trash after the candidate wins office. What’s my motivation, exactly?
For the volunteers who actually win elections, the only pay off for electing a Republican is that he or she will fight to turn the country around. A Republican office-holder’s faithful and diligent pursuit of a conservative agenda is the only “compensation” that either volunteers or voters get. Without that, it is a rational decision for people to just stay home.
If a candidate wins a campaign, she gets paid the salary. She does not share her salary with the volunteers who put her in office. She adds a line to her resume. The candidate gets the glory. The volunteers don’t. In fact, most candidates-elect will treat the volunteers and the public like riff-raff to be mistrusted, feared, and avoided. The elected official acts like a diva while treating the volunteers like stalkers, who should shut up and be quiet.
Elections are won months, often years, before voting day. Money is like gasoline in a car. But the car itself is the campaign volunteers who are motivated early on. Adding money without volunteers is like pouring gasoline out on the street and lighting it on fire.
So it’s Saturday morning. I could get up and go door knocking for a Republican Congressman who has consistently lied to the voters, promising to vote conservative, while actually voting liberal in Congress. Or I could sleep in. Or I could go fishing with my niece or nephew. Or maybe I could work on another degree or some technical training to advance my career. Or I could go enjoy a hobby. Or I could go on a day trip with a girlfriend, fiancé, or wife. Or I could fix things around the house I have been meaning to get to.
Republican politicos just assume that grassroots volunteers will show up to win the elections for them. Why? Why should anyone give up quality time with their children or grandchildren to make some ungrateful politician happy? Why give up time pursuing a hobby? My time would be better spent jogging to lose weight. Only if there is a dime’s worth of difference between the parties, does it make sense to actually spend that dime electing a Republican. But until they understand all of this, GOP insiders cannot lead.
Jonathon Moseley is a Virginia business and criminal defense attorney. Moseley is also a co-host with the ?Conservative Commandos? radio show, and an active member of the Northern Virginia Tea Party. He studied Physics at Hampshire College, Finance at the University of Florida and law at George Mason University in Virginia. Moseley promoted Reagan?s policies at High Frontier and the Center for Peace in Freedom. He worked at the U.S. Department of Education, including at the Center for Choice in Education.
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