When Ben Domenech, Mike Krempasky and I founded RedState over five years ago, we spent much time discussing the new site’s mission: Would it be conservative first, or Republican first? What happens when the interests of conservatives and Republicans conflict? Are there lines that we as conservatives will not cross for the sake of Republicans; and are there lines that we as Republicans will not cross for the sake of conservatives? We settled on some answers to these questions that generally remain in effect for the site today — but we did not settle on the answers to those questions. The tension between movement and Party is, outside of foundational principles, the defining characteristic of our unwieldy, fractious, and beautiful union of partisan and principle: and I believe it’s a creative and necessary tension that anchors idealism to pragmatism, and preserves pragmatism from surrender.
It is in this light that we view the conflict between the National Republican Senatorial Committee, and the Senatorial campaign of California Assemblyman Chuck DeVore on which I am privileged to serve as communications director. Enough has been written about it here at RedState and elsewhere, and it’s sufficient to note two things: first, that the conflict was consciously chosen by the NRSC when it decided to recruit and sustain Carly Fiorina as a moderate-pragmatist alternative to the conservative stalwart; and second, that this conflict is not the foundation for conservative victory in California in 2010.
It is therefore over as far as we’re concerned.
This is emphatically not to say that the story is irrelevant. What the national Party and its organizations do matter a great deal, and they should be held accountable. Conservatives are right to critique their operations, and push back when they ill serve our cause. No entity or campaign gets a free pass — and that includes the campaign on which I serve. “Ye shall know them by their fruits,” says Christ in the Book of Matthew, and that’s as true for political endeavors as for souls. If conservatives approach office seekers and party functionaries alike with skepticism, a preference for action over words, and a focus on outcomes, we’ll have a healthy movement — and a majority to boot.
It is to say, though, that the story and its resolution are not within the purview of DeVore for California. Certainly we’re concerned at the pattern of support by the NRSC for the Fiorina campaign. Certainly we’re disappointed by the NRSC’s favoritism toward our opponent. Certainly we’re dismayed by the dissembling and rancor that accompany the exposure of these things. So be it. Who, to borrow a phrase from the former next President of the United States, is the controlling authority in all this? It’s not us. It’s the activists, the donors, and the grassroots. It’s you.
Mission-driven conservative warriors have a penchant for wanting to clean the Augean stables. But it turns out King Augeas has more than one stable. You, the activists who read and sustain this site, can and should focus your energies on the Augean stable that is our national-Party establishment. Here in California, we’ve got our own Augean stable to clean: the mess that Democratic governance and left-wing ideologues have created, bringing to ruin what by right ought to be the most prosperous spot on the planet. The impoverishment of California is the greatest act of policy-driven vandalism since the Fourth Crusade, and the human suffering that results is the sole moral burden of Democrats — of whom Barbara Boxer is the witless archetype.
That’s our fight. That’s Chuck DeVore’s fight. That’s the fight we at DeVore for California focus on every single day. And fighting that fight — not the fight with D.C. Republicans — is how we’ll win. We must earn the right to lead this fight in 2010, by beating Fiorina for the right to take on Boxer. You can help us do exactly that. What role the NRSC wishes to play in this is its choice. It may continue as it has, and that would be a pity, but also beyond our control. Or ….
Let me close by sharing with you news of an e-mail that NRSC spokesman Brian Walsh sent me yesterday. It’s a critique of Boxer’s ineffectiveness on the Obamacare Senate bill, and is actually a useful bit of information. “I wanted to make sure you were up to date with the latest,” wrote Walsh, “Let me know if you need additional information.” Well. If I quoted Christ from Matthew before, let me cite Him from Luke now: “[B]e glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.”
DeVore for California is moving on.