Republican Self-Sabotage

 

shutterstock_193802486The latest CBS poll suggests that the Trump juggernaut continues to roll, with 35 percent of Republicans supporting him. Ted Cruz, his nearest rival, garners 18 percent. Jeb Bush, the candidate who should have been the obvious choice if conventional wisdom about money and politics were even remotely true, is dead last with 4 percent. In vain does Ted Cruz protest that Donald Trump is not a conservative. Among those who describe themselves as “very conservative,” 35 percent favor Trump versus 30 percent for Cruz, and 12 percent for Rubio.

In South Carolina, Trump is ahead among the evangelical voters Ted Cruz targeted as his savior army that would rise up to carry a true conservative to victory. According to a Fox News poll (2/18), Trump leads Cruz 31 percent to 23 percent among evangelical Christians. And while Cruz leads among those who identify as “very conservative” it’s a razor-thin edge (well within the margin of error).

As in New Hampshire, Trump leads nationally among a broad swath of voters. Not only those with just a high school diploma (47 percent), but also those with some college (33 percent), and college graduates (25 percent). He is the preference of men and women, and among all income groups including those earning more than $100,000.

Any number of theories have been advanced about the Trump voters – that they represent the downscale whites who have been abandoned by the Republican Party, or that they are enraged by Republican failure to secure the border.

But as noted, Trump does well among upscale voters too. As for the great immigration rage, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. Immigration was listed last among matters that were on voters’ minds in Iowa and New Hampshire. Besides, Trump did well even among voters who said they favored a path to citizenship for illegals living here.

No, there’s a better theory for why 35 percent of Republican primary voters are ready to hand the nomination to a bullying, loutish con man who accuses George W. Bush of war crimes while promising to commit some of his own (killing the wives and children of suspected terrorists, stealing the oil of Middle Eastern nations).

For the past several years, leading voices of what Matt Lewis has called “con$ervative” media, along with groups like Heritage Action, and politicians like Sen. Ted Cruz, have ceaselessly flogged the false narrative that the Republican “grassroots” have been betrayed by the Republican leadership in Washington.

Rather than aim their anger at President Obama and the Democrats, right wing websites, commentators like Ann Coulter and Mark Levin, and many others have instead repeated the libel that “Republicans gave Obama everything he wanted.” There has been a flavor of the “stab in the back” to these accusations. But for the treachery of the Republican Party, they claim, a party too timorous or too corrupt to stand up to Obama, we could have defunded Obamacare, balanced the budget, halted the Iran deal, you name it.

Aiming fire at your own side can be very satisfying for radio wranglers, et al. They have zero influence on Obama, but they can take down Eric Cantor. They can’t do much about Eric Holder, but they can dethrone John Boehner.

This is not to say that Republican leaders were perfect or that they couldn’t have done more in some instances to put bills on Obama’s desk – even if only to force vetoes and lay down markers for the next election. But the list of Obama initiatives Republicans thwarted is very long (universal pre-K, gun control, “paycheck fairness,” higher taxes). Moreover, the bloc of conservatives in the House that refused to vote for any budget made it that much more difficult for leadership to exert pressure on Democrats. Lastly, who believes it makes no difference that Republicans control the Senate in the wake of Justice Scalia’s death?

So congratulations to those conservatives who’ve been preaching the “betrayal” of the base by the establishment. You’ve won. You’ve convinced 70 percent of the Republican primary electorate (per the CBS poll) that the most important quality in a candidate is that he will “shake up the political system.”

With all its faults, the Republican Party is the only vehicle for conservative ideas in this country. Conservatives themselves, or at least those who styled themselves conservatives, may have sabotaged it, handing the reins not to a moderate, nor even to a liberal Republican, but to a lifelong Democrat.

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  1. BD Member
    BD
    @

    “But they can take down Eric Cantor.”

    And replace him with a Republican committed to border enforcement. Seems like a model to replicate, not denigrate.

    • #1
  2. Jamie Lockett Inactive
    Jamie Lockett
    @JamieLockett

    BD:“But they can take down Eric Cantor.”

    And replace him with a Republican committed to border enforcement. Seems like a model to replicate, not denigrate.

    Not quite the point Mona was making…

    • #2
  3. Petty Boozswha Inactive
    Petty Boozswha
    @PettyBoozswha

    As for the great immigration rage, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. Immigration was listed last among matters that were on voters’ minds in Iowa and New Hampshire.

    Mona I agree with the general thrust of your argument, but disagree that those of us that are furious with the K Street cabal are duped by Coulter and Beck. As to your pooh-poohing our rage at our immigration system, the reason it was listed last by voters is because terrorism was listed as an alternate choice. After Paris and San Bernardino illegal [and fatuously vetted legal] immigration and terrorist threats are so conjoined and intertwined in the minds of common folk that choosing one is the same as choosing both.

    • #3
  4. Frozen Chosen Inactive
    Frozen Chosen
    @FrozenChosen

    I think this is a sound theory but I also think national polls are somewhat meaningless at this point.  The primaries are a state by state battle and every state is very different.  Many of those polled in national polls will not vote in their state primary.  Minnesota is a caucus state, but The Star Tribune did a poll last month which showed Rubio winning on the Republican side.  These states are all going to evolve as the primaries continue.

    Bush, Kasich and Carson need to get out.  If you add their percentages to Rubio’s in SC he beats Trump.  I don’t think Cruz picks up many of their voters.  The longer those 3 stay in the tougher it will be for Rubio.

    • #4
  5. Jamie Lockett Inactive
    Jamie Lockett
    @JamieLockett

    Petty Boozswha:As for the great immigration rage, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. Immigration was listed last among matters that were on voters’ minds in Iowa and New Hampshire.

    Mona I agree with the general thrust of your argument, but disagree that those of us that are furious with the K Street cabal are duped by Coulter and Beck. As to your pooh-poohing our rage at our immigration system, the reason it was listed last by voters is because terrorism was listed as an alternate choice. After Paris and San Bernardino illegal [and fatuously vetted legal] immigration and terrorist threats are so conjoined and intertwined in the minds of common folk that choosing one is the same as choosing both.

    I don’t think you give the “common folk” enough credit. They’re perfectly capable of distinguishing between the two issues, and nothing would stop them from listing immigration a bit higher than last…

    • #5
  6. BThompson Inactive
    BThompson
    @BThompson

    I think there is much to this argument, Mona. However, I think you’re a bit too optimistic to believe that there is enough juice left in the conservative movement or the body politic in general to sustain a truly freedom loving, independent, and self-reliant society. All great causes eventually become rackets, and sadly that is now true of both the causes of  conservatism and of self-government itself.

    This society does not want to govern itself, it wants license to have what it wants when it wants it, without the responsibility of having to work for or protect it, and it wants any one who challenges their lazy, entitled attitudes shouted down and marginalized by mobs.

    As for the conservative movement, it was long ago coopted by the donor class with an obsession for low taxes and crony capitalism who cynically and hyporcritically relied on wedge social issues and patriotic enthusiasm to put a noble face on their self-interested politics.

    So, while I despise the talk radio outlets who have done their part to turn the ideals of conservatism into a racket and cash in on exploiting the credulousness and resentment of the right, I find very little reason for optimism that we will win any lasting victories by averting a Trump nomination.

    • #6
  7. katievs Inactive
    katievs
    @katievs

    I hate this trashing of the base and the caricaturing of their concerns.

    • #7
  8. Z in MT Member
    Z in MT
    @ZinMT

    Mona Charen: politicians like Sen. Ted Cruz, have ceaselessly flogged the false narrative that the Republican “grassroots” have been betrayed by the Republican leadership in Washington

    This is all you have to read to understand where Mona is coming from. She blames Ted Cruz for everything.

    • #8
  9. Tom Meyer, Ed. Contributor
    Tom Meyer, Ed.
    @tommeyer

    Mona Charen:Aiming fire at your own side can be very satisfying for radio wranglers, et al. They have zero influence on Obama, but they can take down Eric Cantor. They can’t do much about Eric Holder, but they can dethrone John Boehner.

    For the record, I think there’s a lot to be said for the occasional, limited political purge; it reminds the others whom their supposed to work for.

    That said, the purity games are counterproductive. I sure don’t want a repeat of the lost opportunity of that was 2001-2007, but we do have to win first.

    • #9
  10. BThompson Inactive
    BThompson
    @BThompson

    katievs:I hate this trashing of the base and the caricaturing of their concerns.

    To the extent the base sees Trump as the answer to it’s concerns, one has every right to question the base’s commitment to it’s principles as well as the validity of it’s concerns.

    • #10
  11. Tom Meyer, Ed. Contributor
    Tom Meyer, Ed.
    @tommeyer

    katievs:

    I hate this trashing of the base and the caricaturing of their concerns.

    Trump supporters do not have a monopoly on constituting “the base.”

    • #11
  12. Man With the Axe Inactive
    Man With the Axe
    @ManWiththeAxe

    katievs:I hate this trashing of the base and the caricaturing of their concerns.

    How does one get to be a member of the base?

    I am a registered Republican, and although I care about immigration I also care about the Supreme Court, separation of powers, abortion, the national debt, the military and national security, education, race relations, the economy, and probably more.

    But I would never vote for a ” bullying, loutish con man who accuses George W. Bush of war crimes.” Does that mean I can’t be a member of the base?

    • #12
  13. Jamie Lockett Inactive
    Jamie Lockett
    @JamieLockett

    katievs:I hate this trashing of the base and the caricaturing of their concerns.

    I detest the tired idea that one faction has a monopoly on being the “base”. The base contains multitudes.

    • #13
  14. katievs Inactive
    katievs
    @katievs

    BThompson:

    katievs:I hate this trashing of the base and the caricaturing of their concerns.

    To the extent the base sees Trump as the answer to it’s concerns, one has every right to question the base’s commitment to it’s principles as well as the validity of it’s concerns.

    The base didn’t study political science in college. They’re not “principled conservatives” in that sense. They are ordinary people whose mediating institutions (like the family and the church) have been vitiated by political and cultural elites, leaving them vulnerable to opportunistic strongmen. They see their way of life disappearing, and they find themselves held in contempt and lied to by both parties.

    They’re not choosing Trump because they think he’s a conservative; they’re choosing Trump because they haven’t seen a convincing alternative.

    Their communities have been decimated, they’ve gotten garbage in public schools, the country they love is disappearing before their eyes, and the elites blame them and the only people who are connecting with their concerns.

    Those of us who know Trump would make everything worse ought to be busy explaining that and showing how Cruz or Rubio isn’t more of the same, not heaping more contempt.

    • #14
  15. Jager Coolidge
    Jager
    @Jager

    Tom Meyer, Ed.:

    katievs:

    I hate this trashing of the base and the caricaturing of their concerns.

    Trump supporters do not have a monopoly on constituting “the base.”

    I fully agree with this. But Trump supporters aren’t the only people attacked here. Trump and his supporters, Ted Cruz and his supporters, and the hard right members of the House are all given blame in this piece. Apparently neither Heritage nor Mark Levien have said bad things about Obama or his policies?

    So Trump is bad, Cruz is bad, members of the conservative media are bad and it was wrong to replace Eric Cantor for holding views his constituents did not like. It was wrong for members of the House to object to a bill their constituents did not like.

    • #15
  16. katievs Inactive
    katievs
    @katievs

    Tom Meyer, Ed.:

    katievs:

    I hate this trashing of the base and the caricaturing of their concerns.

    Trump supporters do not have a monopoly on constituting “the base.”

    She didn’t trash just Trump supporters, but Cruz supporters and Levin supporters too, and everyone who feels frustrated and betrayed by the Republican establishment.

    • #16
  17. Tom Meyer, Ed. Contributor
    Tom Meyer, Ed.
    @tommeyer

    katievs:

    Those of us who know Trump would make everything worse ought to be busy explaining that and showing how Cruz or Rubio isn’t more of the same, not heaping more contempt.

    Agreed entirely, but — as Mona says — it’s not just people who’ve been on the receiving end of the new economy. It includes a lot of folks who should know better.

    • #17
  18. donald todd Inactive
    donald todd
    @donaldtodd

    Frozen Chosen:Bush, Kasich and Carson need to get out. If you add their percentages to Rubio’s in SC he beats Trump. I don’t think Cruz picks up many of their voters. The longer those 3 stay in the tougher it will be for Rubio.

    What makes you think that if Bush, Kasich, and Carson get out that their voters will all move to Rubio?

    • #18
  19. katievs Inactive
    katievs
    @katievs

    Jinx, Jager.

    • #19
  20. Robert McReynolds Inactive
    Robert McReynolds
    @RobertMcReynolds

    Oh this is rich, really rich. So the likes of Cruz or Heritage who demand that the GOP Leadership in the Congress show some damned backbone are the reason for Trump? You know Mona, had your friends in the media held the feet of Boehner to the fire, maybe some of these people wouldn’t be so pissed off that they are willing to hand the nomination over to a guy who, while trying to help, is going to be a disaster. This is pure bunk.

    [Edited for CoC]

    • #20
  21. donald todd Inactive
    donald todd
    @donaldtodd

    Rush noted today that Trump expects to add independents and Democrats to his coalition.  It is not only Republicans who are offended by their federal elected officials.  A lot of people are seeing in Trump something that they are not seeing in his opposition.

    If Democrats are making the trek, then the wretch and the socialist won’t have a chance.

    I think that this could be a landslide election.

    • #21
  22. Robert McReynolds Inactive
    Robert McReynolds
    @RobertMcReynolds

    BThompson:I think there is much to this argument, Mona. However, I think you’re a bit too optimistic to believe that there is enough juice left in the conservative movement or the body politic in general to sustain a truly freedom loving, independent, and self-reliant society. All great causes eventually become rackets, and sadly that is now true of both the causes of conservatism and of self-government itself.

    This society does not want to govern itself, it wants license to have what it wants when it wants it, without the responsibility of having to work for or protect it, and it wants any one who challenges their lazy, entitled attitudes shouted down and marginalized by mobs.

    As for the conservative movement, it was long ago coopted by the donor class with an obsession for low taxes and crony capitalism who cynically and hyporcritically relied on wedge social issues and patriotic enthusiasm to put a noble face on their self-interested politics.

    Man that is probably the best description of what has happened since the end of the Cold War here in the US that I have ever heard, at least as it explains the GOP and the Conservative Movement.

    • #22
  23. Michael Stopa Contributor
    Michael Stopa
    @MichaelStopa

    katievs:I hate this trashing of the base and the caricaturing of their concerns.

    Yes. Heartily yes.

    • #23
  24. Mike LaRoche Inactive
    Mike LaRoche
    @MikeLaRoche

    The Republican establishment is reaping what it has sown.

    • #24
  25. Petty Boozswha Inactive
    Petty Boozswha
    @PettyBoozswha

    Jamie Lockett:

    Petty Boozswha:As for the great immigration rage, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. Immigration was listed last among matters that were on voters’ minds in Iowa and New Hampshire.

    Mona I agree with the general thrust of your argument, but disagree that those of us that are furious with the K Street cabal are duped by Coulter and Beck. As to your pooh-poohing our rage at our immigration system, the reason it was listed last by voters is because terrorism was listed as an alternate choice. After Paris and San Bernardino illegal [and fatuously vetted legal] immigration and terrorist threats are so conjoined and intertwined in the minds of common folk that choosing one is the same as choosing both.

    I don’t think you give the “common folk” enough credit. They’re perfectly capable of distinguishing between the two issues, and nothing would stop them from listing immigration a bit higher than last…

    My understanding was that the poll asked what is your most important issue – so choosing one excluded choosing the other. If I’m mistaken I will amend my opinion.

    • #25
  26. katievs Inactive
    katievs
    @katievs

    BThompson:

    As for the conservative movement, it was long ago coopted by the donor class with an obsession for low taxes and crony capitalism who cynically and hyporcritically relied on wedge social issues and patriotic enthusiasm to put a noble face on their self-interested politics.

    I agree whole-heartedly with the first part. As to the second, I would say they used social cons—paying lip service to our urgent concerns about the eroding of the moral fabric of our nation (on which all its goods, including its economic prosperity, depend) while privately abetting our marginalization and hoping we’d go away.

    • #26
  27. Douglas Inactive
    Douglas
    @Douglas

    katievs:I hate this trashing of the base and the caricaturing of their concerns.

    Might as well get used to it. You’re going to hear plenty about how stupid you are from Conservatism, Inc. over the next couple of months.

    People that I had considered to be my political allies now remind me of Peter Jennings in that infamous 1994 post-GOP victory newscast, when he angrily accused those stupid voters of throwing a temper tantrum.

    • #27
  28. EHerring Coolidge
    EHerring
    @EHerring

    I think we have Trump because Republicans attacked the conservatives, the Tea Party, and Cruz, weakening them.  In Cruz, they got someone who fought for what they said they wanted and the voters went for Trump, instead.  I think Cruz could be the closest thing to Reagan I will see in my lifetime….and he may yet pull this out.  I hope so.  Who else would be crazy enough to fight for the base against the establishment if Cruz goes down….and would the voters deserve another chance to have such a person?

    • #28
  29. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive
    Ball Diamond Ball
    @BallDiamondBall

    Well, here’s our betters in the GOP elite lamenting the rise of another set of betters, who are now better than even the original betters.  All of this to corral the mindless cattle who consume media and produce votes.

    This may be the first time Charen has treated the lumpenbase as rational beings, reacting rationally to a better set of propaganda than her fellows have produced.

    Mona — we created this new set.  Just because we are not your dupes, do not presume that we must therefore be somebody else’s dupes.  This is the haughty tone-deafness that has brought you to this sorry pass.

    I am sure that we can expect these strafing runs on the base to get more pronounced as the war drags on.

    • #29
  30. LilyBart Inactive
    LilyBart
    @LilyBart

    Mike LaRoche:The Republican establishment is reaping what it has sown.

    I agree.

    It seems to me that the party “leaders” thought they could defeat the base in a win/lose proposition to stay in full control, rather than compromising with their base in a win/win proposition.

    They were wrong.

    I’m mad about what’s happening here too (with Trump), but I place the blame on the miscalculation and power-hunger of the republican party leadership.

    • #30
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