EDITOR OF REDSTATE
WANTED: Disruptive Candidates
This year will be the 5th RedState Gathering. We will meet the first weekend in August in New Orleans, LA. Five years ago we introduced the nation to Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Pat Toomey, Nikki Haley, Michael Williams, Ken Cuccinelli, Karen Handel, and more.
In 2010, we worked hard for Rand Paul, Mike Lee, Ken Buck, and others.
This year I am struggling to find good, disruptive candidates to challenge the established ways of Washington. The 2012 defeat, which some of us had predicted back in 2011, has gone exactly as I thought it would. Good candidates have turned their backs and gone to focus on their families and what’s left of their businesses.
We’re going to have awesome speakers: Bobby Jindal, Nikki Haley, Ted Cruz, Ken Cuccinelli, Jim Bridenstine, and more. But they are elected already. Where are the disruptive outsiders who want to join their ranks? They are much harder to find now than in 2010 or even 2012. (By the way, have you registered for the Gathering yet?)
Most of the candidates running in 2014 are running because they want to go to Washington, not because they want to go blow up the system.
The secret of Washington, DC is that the leadership of both parties collaborate within the same system. Both parties are tools of big business. Both parties are tools of banks. Both parties want to pick winners and losers. The rhetoric of the Republican leadership in Washington is that the problem is Democrats in charge of government and not government itself.
The ideas peddled by the Republican leadership in Washington are small and unoriginal. Their preference in policy and politics is for the voters to let Republicans manage the leviathan that Democrats create, instead of slaying the leviathan. There are multiple paths forward as conservative populists, but the GOP would rather manage than lead.
The only way to change this is to find disruptive candidates. Consider that Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and George W. Bush all won as conservative populists. When George H. W. Bush switched back to the technocratic manager of the modern aristocracy, he, like Bob Dole, John McCain, and Mitt Romney, lost. George H. W. Bush won as Reagan’s heir and lost as himself. George W. Bush won, barely, in 2000, and expanded his lead in 2004 as both a populist reformer and the guy who could keep us safe. None of the other guys were more than duds promising to manage the decline of American civilization.
We see the success of existing disruptive candidates in the Senate — Mike Lee, Ted Cruz, and Rand Paul have become wholly disruptive. Republican Senators leak nasty things about them to the press and say nasty things about them on the floor of the Senate. They are called “wacko birds”. They have disrupted the decorum of the Senate GOP that for so long has perpetuated a system that, with the Democrats, has expanded government, awarded friends, and picked winners and losers. They have put points on the board for freedom. They give people hope that the American aristocracy of big business, lobbyists, the rich, and career politicians can be fought.
On the House side, we have an established fight club of good conservative disruptors in Congressmen Amash, Bridenstine, Broun, Gohmert, Huelskamp, Jones, Massie, Pearce, Salmon, and Yoho. We have, I hope, added Mark Sanford to their ranks and others might join them. On occasion they are able to rally enough Republicans to kill legislative rules, thereby defeating the Republican leadership in the House, which spends more time trying to make government programs work better instead of shrinking government.
But good guys like Jim Jordan, Tom Graves, and Jeb Hensarling, among others, seem either burned out or co-opted. Instead of keeping up the fight, they’ve given up the fight. They have regressed. They have succumbed to a system that wears out the fighters, shuts out dissent, and grinds down spirit.
We need more disrupters and I see few on the horizon. Those who I see are of questionable merit for general elections. They will have to prove themselves.
After George Bush left the White House conservatives stood at a unique spot. They could either finally separate themselves again from being a synonym of the Republican Party or they could finally be consumed. Many have been consumed. To many of those left on the outside have craved the access of the inside and gone in.
The outside groups need to re-inspire and find good, disruptors to charge into Washington — people willing to fight inside Republican primaries, even against incumbents and the proxies for the establishment. There just aren’t many out there yet. We need them.
While we look for them, considering supporting these four groups, all of which are committed to finding, funding, and electing disruptive candidates.