Reports From the I-4 Corridor Part II: ABO Should Get the N-O 1/2
(Full disclosure, I’m a Michele Bachmann supporter)
Two weekends ago, I witnessed the Come to Reagan Rallies at CPAC FL and Presidency 5 in Orlando, Florida. After spending the last five years in the wilderness, it appears that the GOP has finally emerged, united around its mission of unseating Barack Obama. ABO (Anyone But Obama) or OMG (Obama Must Go) are now the common slogans of the conservative movement. Just about everyone I talked to at CPAC told me their goal this election is to defeat Obama. While such a goal is admirable, I agree with Michele Bachmann’s comments in the last debate. Bachmann correctly pointed out that conservatives should not have to compromise for an “electable” candidate. There is a lot to be dissected in Bachmann’s statement, so I won’t try to tackle it all in one post. For now, it’s important to see whether “electable” moderates are actually electable.
If there’s any lesson the GOP should have learned from the past two elections, it’s that the Republican Party does best when it offers a stark contrast to the Democratic Party and fails when it runs as Democrats Light. 2008 was the ultimate example of an electable moderate failing miserably. After the ’06 loss, many moderates within the GOP argued that the party had to move to the middle or lose the election. As a result, John McCain, the ultimate moderate, earned the nomination. John McCain had spent his entire Senate career thumbing his nose at the conservative base, much to the delight of the mainstream media. If there was anyone who could pick up moderate votes and earn the affection of the media, it was John McCain. Unfortunately, the media that loved McCain in the Senate turned on him once he received the nomination and the moderates who were supposed to sweep McCain into the White House went AWOL on Election Day. The GOP attempt to move towards the mainstream ended with the party falling in the steam and drowning.
After the 2008 walloping, David Frum and moderates inside the GOP took the occasion to gleefully declare the end of conservatism. According to these moderates, the GOP had to abandon its conservative roots to stay viable and the Tea Party movement would bring about the death of the party. Thankfully, Frum, et. al managed to misread the situation, again. Two years after conservatism supposedly died and we all became Socialists, the Tea Party-driven GOP gained the largest number of House seats since 1948. As for the Independents the Tea Party was supposed to scare away, the GOP saw 55% of Independents vote Republican just two years after gaining only 43% of the Independent vote. Republicans also saw their candidates get elected to statewide offices in traditional blue states like Wisconsin, Michigan, Maine and Illinois. The only problem with electable moderates is that they seem to lose while all those unelectable conservatives keep winning and grabbing Independent votes. Someone should tell David Brooks.