Over the past few weeks, political news outlets have been filled with articles beaming about the masterful strategy of the GOP establishment in crushing grassroots challenges. They smugly celebrate the wily tactics of Senator Mitch McConnell, the Chamber of Commerce, and Crossroads in counterattacking the Tea Party. But when you think past the initial headline, you will find that there is nothing special, clever, or innovative about their strategy. It is quite simple.
Members of the political class, which is comprised of the leaders in both parties, support unconstitutional policies, corporate welfare, amnesty for illegals, consistent debt ceiling increases, federal control of local functions, and anything else demanded by the dominant moneyed interests. In return, they receive unlimited campaign support in the form of direct contributions and independent expenditures that are carefully coordinated with their candidates through McConnell’s network of the Chamber, NRSC, and Karl Rove – as outlined by National Journal.
In comes a grassroots candidate from the country class. Needless to say, unless they are a billionaire, they struggle to collect small donations from patriotic citizens in order to develop a modicum of legitimacy and grow their name ID with the electorate. In fact, it is precisely because these candidates support principle over power that they have a difficult time raising money – at least anywhere near the scale of the political class. There is a clear inverse relationship between principled stances on the issues and raising money.
The campaign finance “inequality” has been further exacerbated by McCain-Soros campaign finance laws that place upstart candidates at a disadvantage. They lack a large network of donors, but might know of a handful of patriots who are willing to fully support the candidate. However, they are hamstrung by caps on individual contributions.
Challenging the political class in both open seats (or Democrat seats) and incumbent seats would be arduous enough if the only inherent problem was the money gap. But there are two more challenges: defining of the candidate and ideological lies.
Defining the Candidates
In most races with grassroots challengers, the incumbent enjoys ubiquitous name ID and has been fully defined in the eyes of the voters for years. As is often the case, the incumbent might have mediocre approval numbers, but given that he is a known quantity, there is no fear that he is a total lunatic.
Contrast that to most of the challengers who are starting out with zero name ID and are completely undefined in the minds of voters. Again, most of these challengers lack the funds to ever pose a threat to the incumbent, but the minute they gain traction, the political class has unlimited funds to define the challenger with their professional hit man opposition attacks. Let’s be clear, some grassroots candidates are better than others, but there is no human being with an impressive background who does not have something in their lives that can be exaggerated or distorted and put into a massive TV buy.
Remember, the first time most voters are hearing about our candidates is through the prism of the oppo hits, and you know what they say about a first impression. That is how they can destroy someone out of the gate -- with a dehumanization campaign. Even if they didn’t have the funding advantage it would still be difficult because of the gap in definition. The establishment can completely destroy upstart insurgent candidates because there is no pre-existing definition in the minds of voters. We cannot destroy their candidates, rather merely hope to slowly knock them down a few points. Moreover, we focus on issues; they focus on oppo hits. Guess which one resonates more with voters?
Lies, Lies, Lies
As the National Journal article noted, McConnell and his lieutenants have learned how to pick the lock. Unlike moderate incumbents of the past like Dick Lugar, who, more or less, ran on their records, these members take the McCain/Hatch route. In other words, they lie their way through the primary.
Instead of running on support of bailouts, amnesty, corporate welfare, debt ceiling increases, expansion of the federal government, jettisoning social issues, and tweaking Obamacare (things they support privately or even vote for) they use their superior firepower to portray themselves as rocked-rib conservatives and paint their opponents as liberals. Remember how Mike Simpson ran ads saying he voted to REPEAL the Wall Street bailout and that his opponent was a liberal trial lawyer? Their cowardly allies do the same thing. Just look at Jason Hart’s article about OH-14 to understand how all these factors play together.
Ponder this thought for a moment: political class candidates receive millions of dollars from big government interests precisely because of their support for liberal causes. Then they turn around and use that money to lie to the voters and sell themselves as the antithesis of their funding sources and their opponents as the epitome of their special interests.
Headed into the next few weeks, this strategy might pay off. We pray to God that it doesn’t.
But one thing is clear: there is no skill, merit, or virtue in what they are doing. It is nothing but old-fashioned corruption and lies.