Thirty million dollars. An uninterrupted barrage of radio and television attack ads, mailers, social media advertisements. Big data and a well-executed ground game comprised of hundreds of permanent and non-permanent staff. President Trump’s tweets.
Yet down fell Senator Luther Strange. It was a stunning result – a nine-point blowout in a race that most pundits and analysts expected to be competitive. It wasn’t.
A little over two years ago, America’s best-known billionaire descended down the escalator to deliver the speech that would forever change American politics. Bold, brash, unfiltered – it was everything that political consultants had for years been trained to avoid. But there were no consultants – in their place were thousands of Americans voters, packed like sardines into venues that rarely went unfilled.
The consultants, meanwhile, watched in agony as their choreographed, buttoned-up candidates stood frozen on the debate stage as they were jeered and ridiculed by an opponent who had no interest in learning the rules of the game. Middle America cackled in delight, delivering record ratings as it tuned in to the political equivalent of an MMA fight. Suddenly, politics was accessible – and fun – for ordinary people.
2016 didn’t just change the rules of the game – though many are content to stop there – it changed the players. Even as the beltway establishment correctly warned of the alienation of moderate voters and independents, it failed to anticipate the tidal wave of new voters that rushed to fill the void.
These new Republicans hate choreography. They hate prepared speeches and political correctness, hors d’oeuvres and hobnobbery. More than anything, they hate excuses.
With them, the Republican Party has the opportunity to become stronger than ever before. As the lunatic fringe of the Democrat Party stoops to vandalism and violence, the no-bullshit patriotism of the so-called “new right” has the potential to grow the Republican tent to new heights.
Or, the party can continue to drain its accounts propping up failed candidates.
Thirty million dollars. Choose wisely.