Corey Stewart’s call for disunity all but sealed the fate of Republicans in November. As I watch social media, I see only a small percentage of Stewart supporters willing to vote Republican in November. In fact, I don’t know a single Democrat who wants to see Ed Gillespie lose as much as many of the Stewart-supporters do.
Republicans may need a miracle in November to win, but winning is never impossible. Winning without the Stewart people will be hard, but it can be done. Gillespie will need to find a way to bring conservatives, moderates, constitutionalists, libertarians, and even the corporatists together to get enough votes to cancel out the stay-at-home populists and the Democrats who are far more unified, as it would turn out, than we are.
However, the Democrats have lost most of their moderates. All moderates are Republican these days. Moderates are increasingly becoming the Republican Base. Ed Gillespie needs to run as a moderate – hell, if there is such a thing as a hard-line moderate, I hope that’s what Ed Gillespie becomes.
There is no way for Gillespie to sound “populist” or “nationalist” enough to get the hardcore Stewart supporter. One, it would look unbelievable. Two, they have no interest in compromise. Three, it would turn the rest of us off. Therefore, the Republican Party in Virginia needs to activate it’s new base: Moderates. Conservatives will just have to stomach the rhetoric and remind themselves that a moderate-sounding Republican is our only chance of preventing an actually progressive Democrat and overcoming all those “republicans” who will stay home in November.
Moderates and Conservatives agree far more with one another than they do with populists or progressives. Moderates and Conservatives simply don’t have the quality relationships they need to become a force to be reckoned with, to work together to build a Republican Party around the intellectual and historical wisdom accumulated over the years. We’ve spent too much time fighting each other and too little time noticing everything going on around us. There are worse things than Moderates my friends, as we’ve learned all too well. I love Congressman Dave Brat. He represents me. Sadly, he doesn’t represent many of the populists who supported his campaign and who are now waiting in the weeds for their shot at his seat. It wasn’t really the Cantor crowd we needed to worry about after all.
Moderates – you guys have to learn that there are worse things than Conservatives. We need to focus on small business as much as we do big business. Government can’t solve every problem and it can’t centrally direct the economy. Sometimes it is far better to allow markets to work, even if you take a short-term political hit for doing so. Governments won’t be the backbone of our economy through subsidies and tax breaks and loopholes. Governments are the infrastructure upon which free markets operate. Frank Wagner was right. We need to be focused on our infrastructure if we want to improve our economy. Hell, even the Democrats are right about Education. A less-educated workforce is less competitive when high-tech companies (the companies of the present and the future) are looking for a place to plant their roots.
The Moderates in the Republican Party have lost their message. Well, everyone but Senator Wagner anyway. Instead, moderates campaign as if they were conservative, which is dishonest, appears fake, and doesn’t inspire many votes amongst fellow moderates. Conservatives, on the other hand, have a very strong message, cultivated over hundreds of years. Conservatives have a strong set of core values. Moderates can focus on infrastructure, on business, and even on the ugly business of politics; they simply have to embrace the core values of conservatives and bring us all together.
Conservatives will simply have to embrace the fact that we share our Commonwealth with progressives who waste our money, instead of investing it. Taxes will go up. Bridges need to be rebuilt. Interstates have to be expanded. The infrastructure our businesses depend on is costly. If our education system isn’t the best in the country, then we’ll lose access to the best jobs. These are all truths, that if we could accept them, and talk to one another about them, we would be unstoppable – and the progressives and populist/nationalists would have no ammunition against us.
Good government, conservative values, and practical policies can coexist…if we can. That’s how we get from here to unity, with or without the stay at home “republicans”.
I understand that Stewart may have been pointing out that there can’t be unity if the moderate wing of the Republican Party doesn’t find some way to compromise with the populist wing of the party. However, I also believe that there is nothing the moderate wing of the Republican Party could offer to the populist wing of the party that the populist wing would accept. In their defense, I’m also not sure the moderate wing of the party would be willing to compromise on anything anyway. Therefore, the problem we face is two-fold – the campaign Ed Gillespie ran would have been great in 1994, but it did not address the issues on the minds of most Republicans in Virginia in 2017. The Gillespie campaign needs to speak to the voters, not just to the issues. He needs to address the anger felt on the populist wing. He does not have to use their rhetoric or draw their same conclusions, but he needs to demonstrate that he understands them and that he has a plan for fixing the issues that vex them. This cannot be done without a platform, not just based on conservative values and traditions, but rather that inspires and markets the values and traditions themselves. We also need to hold each other accountable for the true things – many felt as though the Stewart campaign spread nothing but vicious lies about Gillespie. I’m one of them. Gillespie never really fought back, so we never got to have the discussion. Stewart voters won’t vote for Gillespie unless they get to have the discussion they so desperately desire. I have been told that the Stewart campaign is not trying to rip the party apart and that they are not trying to “burn it to the ground”. However, I’m not convinced that many of his supporters are motivated to do exactly that. I believe it is fair game to hold supporters and advocates as accountable instruments of a campaign – because it takes very little for the candidate to correct them when they are wrong or heading in a wrong direction.