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Sunday, May 21, 2006

Who Will They Blame For the GOP's November Loss?

The GOP Establishment's ire will most likely be aimed at those on the Right who believe American political parties are actually supposed to deliver on the promises they make in order to attract voters.

In the meantime, Richard Viguerie, who has bedevilled too-comfortable GOPers for many years, provides in today's edition of The Washington Post some important historical context to the coming debacle.

The current debate in the Blogosphere is the latest manifestation of a contest that goes back before more most of the present participants were born:

"But unhappy conservatives should be taken seriously. When conservatives are unhappy, bad things happen to the Republican Party.
"In 1948, conservatives were unhappy with Thomas E. Dewey's liberal Republican 'me too' campaign, and enough of them stayed home to give the election to Harry S. Truman. In 1960, conservatives were unhappy with Richard M. Nixon's negotiations with Nelson A. Rockefeller to divide the spoils of victory before victory was even achieved, and John F. Kennedy won.
"In 1974, conservatives were unhappy with the corruption and Big Government policies of Nixon's White House and with President Gerald R. Ford's selection of Rockefeller as his vice president, and this led to major Republican losses in the congressional races that year.
"By 1976, conservatives were fed up with Ford's adoption of Rockefeller's agenda, and Jimmy Carter was elected with the backing of Christian conservatives.
"In 1992, conservatives were so unhappy with President George H.W. Bush's open disdain for them that they staged an open rebellion, first with the candidacy of Patrick J. Buchanan and then with Ross Perot. The result was an incumbent president receiving a paltry 37 percent of the vote.

"In 1998, conservatives were demoralized by congressional Republicans' wild spending and their backing away from conservative ideas. The result was an unexpected loss of seats in the House and the resignation of Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.)."

But the lesson here isn't simply that the GOP has for long taken its conservative base for granted. Let us also remember that the definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing over and over again while expecting a different result. We conservatives keep wondering when the GOP Establishment will learn. I ask when we will learn.

UPDATE: Livy knew

Professor Stepphen Bainbridge knows Livy. Livy knows men.

UPDATE II: More symbolism from Bush, GOP

Another piece in The Washington Post, this time in the Monday news section, provides additional evidence that neither the White House political strategists nor those of the congressional GOP understand that their strategy of election-year sops to the Right is the heart of the problem, not the solution to their dwindling poll numbers and November prospects.

UPDATE III: Captain's Quarters says RAV wrong Bush, conservatives

Ed Morrissey takes issue with Viguerie's version of the relationship between President Bush and the conservatives, noting that:

"First off, let's get rid of the notion that we ever thought George Bush was a conservative on anything but right-to-life and tax issues. The reason Dick Cheney is the vice president is because Bush needed a staunch conservative on the ticket in order to get the conservatives to come out and vote, a fact that many seem to have forgotten.

"This wasn't a 'triumph of hope over experience,' it was the political calculation that we needed a moderate-sounding candidate to beat the sitting vice-president of a popular president. George Bush ran for office on the promise of increased spending on education and a Medicare prescription plan; weren't conservatives paying attention?"

Ed, who has consistently been the most reasoned and factually grounded advocates of conservatives remaining within the GOP, goes on to reiterate his view that the best course for conservatives in 06 and 08 is to defund the national GOP electoral aparatus while encouraging with our money, brains and muscles the fielding of top-flight conservative alternatives in party primaries:

"The history of our strikes should demonstrate the necessity of our continued engagement. We need to take one piece of advice from Vigurie: stop donating to party-leadership committees. No money to the RNC, the Republican Senatorial or Congressional Campaign Commitees, until that leadership proves its responsiveness to conservatives.

"We need to redirect those funds to conservative candidates instead, loosening the power that current leadership has on our representatives. If they do not fear the cutoff of electoral funding, they will be less inclined to follow in lockstep behind the spendthrifts. It's this activism that will enable conservatives to take control of the GOP, instead of abandoning it to the people who spend like drunken sailors."

As always, I encourage you to read the entirety of Ed's analysis, which is here.