Why do we still idolize politicians? Has any Republican Politician ever been greater than the sum of the Republican Party’s parts? Or has the Republican body politic ever been lord and master, the impetus and germ of the direction, virtue, and vice of Republican Party as a whole? These are the kinds of questions we should ask, especially if you are a devoted fan of fringe Republican candidates.
The pragmatic moderates who have ruled over the Republican Party for years have a tremendous virtue accredited to them, that they have never been tied down by last stands or a willingness to sacrifice the good of the party for the good of a candidate. If you think conservatives are bad with regard to eating their own, the moderate leadership will cut loose anyone who threatens to become a liability to the party or to party leadership. Remember Tom DeLay? He was once the darling of “the establishment”, now a relic of an era long bereft of honor and memory.
You see, the problem is not that the majority of Republicans aren’t conservative. They are conservative. The problem we face is that the majority of Republicans aren’t paying attention and they do not care to allocate the energy required to pay attention. The average Republican voter is a subject of national narratives, not principles. As conservative as they are, a well orchestrated smear campaign will set them against their own representatives and their own interests in an instant.
Finding ideological conservatives to represent us in government isn’t half as important as planting the seeds of intransigence in the black soil of Republican fields. Time after time we elect “conservatives” who get to Washington D.C. and realize that the voters are too ignorant to matter. Even in conservative districts like Virginia’s 7th, politicians can get away with selling out their conservative base for years before they face serious challenges. Pragmatic, moderate, republican leadership does not fear conservatives.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has laid waste to Tea Party candidates for years, has he not? We elected Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, and Ben Sasse and still McConnell rules the Senate with an iron fist, does he not?
My point is simply this: no one conservative candidate is capable of infecting the party system like a virus, taking over from the inside. Republicans vote the way the Republican Party tells them to vote. Even now, with the narrative that Donald Trump is anti-establishment (which of course he is not), we have not witnessed any conservative primary success, have we? Paul Ryan crushed his challenger.
In Wisconsin, where Ted Cruz won with 48.2% of the vote, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan trounced his “conservative” opponent. In Paul Ryan’s historic 1st district, Ted Cruz beat Donald Trump by 19 percentage points. As conservative as that district was, it supported the establishment candidate in Ryan. Now why is that?
Republican voters are motivated by local issues and local relationships. Donald Trump’s nomination tells us that Republican voters are looking for real change in the Republican Party, but Wisconsin teaches us that this desire for change doesn’t go so far as their own congressional districts.
The Republican Party is still local. The GOP is still all about relationships and local loyalty. No one cares about some strategic national movement to reform the Republican Party Leadership, if that movement means throwing out the leaders who bring home the bacon to each individual district.
The conclusion we must draw from this is that personal relationships and local politics trump national narratives. Period. End of story.
Go ahead and donate money to candidates all across the country, it won’t accomplish anything.
Form relationships within your own towns, counties, districts, and states if you want to make a difference. Don’t make enemies. Make friends. Principles are sexy, but principles are the sort of things that take captains down with their ships. If making a difference matters, look to your neighbors and not to your idols. Work hard, don’t just advocate hard.
Mitch McConnell isn’t successful because he’s brilliant or because he’s right. He’s successful because he accepts reality and doesn’t try to fight it. We hate him for it and he doesn’t care. No political party can make a difference if they do not hold power. Period. End of story.
Politics is the mathematics of the ground up. Idolizing leaders is a waste of time.